Augustine Frizzell's self-inspired story of youthful idiocy sounds a celebratory klaxon for dumb youth and its hopes and dreams.

In Never Goin’ Back, Jessie and Angela (Camila Morrone and Maia Mitchell) are behind on their rent, their dead end jobs are slowly draining the life from them and their parents are nowhere to be found. Having quit high school, their daily lives are made up of smoking endless bongs and snorting lines at 9am before their shift at the local diner. They’ve just booked a holiday when their ramshackle house they share with another bunch of layabouts gets burgled. The solution, obviously, is to rob the local sandwich shop to make bank to get them to the beach, pay off the rent and escape Jessie’s wannabe drug-dealer brother, Dustin (Joel Allen).

From Augustine Frizzell, Never Goin’ Back is based on the a first-time feature director and long time actress’ own experiences as a youth. It’s got the air of a female version of Superbad, only the main two characters are stunningly attractive. Considering they live their lives on burgers and bongs, they’re in remarkably good nick. It’s the kind of existence that most teens wish they had; a life with no parental overlords.

It’s not quite all its cracked up to be though, as the beach calls out to them. On their way to get there they find themselves ranting at old men about being paedophiles, drawing dicks on each other’s faces, and getting accidentally stoned on weed brownies before making off for work, from which they promptly get fired in what makes for the funniest scene of the film.

Older audiences might find Never Goin’ Back merely a tale of teenage frivolity. They’d not be wrong, but they’re also not right. Not technically a stoner comedy in the vein of James Franco and Seth Rogen films, there’s a delightful hedonism in Frizzell’s tale of lightheaded stupidity. It’s the kind of devil-may-care criminality that Spring Breakers tried to go for, but failed on account of trying to make the girls too hard. Despite the main characters being two potty-mouthed teenage druggies, Jessie and Angela are devilishly likeable, and realistic. Mitchell in particular is fantastic as the tougher of the pair with an eye for a fight. What’s refreshing is that there’s no story arc involving a boy who gets in the middle of the pair, and no need for an apologetic reconciliation. This is a genuine female friendship played by two strong, female leads, who carry the film from one dumb move to the next.

It’s not laugh a minute, but there are several moments of genuine comedy in Frizzell’s roman à clef. Yes, there is toilet humour, yes it plays to dumb, stoner laughs, but ultimately Frizzell’s teenage comedy reminds you how dumb you were when you were young, and makes you want to do it again.


Never Goin’ Back is showing as part of Sundance London.