Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, James Franco, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and Gucci Mane
On the surface Spring Breakers looks like the epitome of springtime teen/college party flicks. Girls in bikinis. White, sandy beaches. Neon colors. Alcohol. Inhibitions being thrown to the wind. Even the title eludes a certain regard to the one week of the year when even the most innocent frat boy or sorority girl can let loose.
Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo) doesn't hold back on delivering the images any parent would be afraid to see, but does so in a poetic and just way. I promise I'm not being sarcastic. The film plays out like a piece of art in the modern section of your big city art museum. At one turn we're seeing chaos and the next we're drawn into an odd, but beautiful, montage of a dreaded James Franco leading a piano-driven cover of Britney Spears' "Everytime". I'm not making this up.
Former Disney starlets Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens lead the group of four college girls (the other are the lesser known, as of now, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) who rob a restaurant to fund their spring break trip to Florida. Everything is going so well (as well as a drunken, drug-filled, topless trip to the beach can be) until they find themselves in jail after a party gets a visit from the local police. Just when they think their chances of "finding themselves" and enjoying some time away from their mundane college life, an east coast rapper named Alien (James Franco in an Oscar-worthy role...seriously) bails them out and sets the course for the movie's stellar second act.
Besides his grill and dreads and tats, Alien is loaded with money, guns, and charisma. The charm is enough to wrap some of the girls into his grasps and, before we know it, we're on a short and sweet electric ride of mayhem, mischief, and madness.
Korine works his magic here, never holding back from anything, but keeping everything at just the right pace. While we're shocked and maybe even slightly disgusted, we never feel like it's being put on or over the top. That's why this movie works. Everything we're seeing should be over the top. It should make you want to turn your eyes. It should make you want to call it trash. But, it doesn't. It's poetic in its mindlessness and poetic in its chaos.
There are some great cinematic attributes to it, as well. Driven by a soundtrack straight from EDM heaven, with Skrillex leading the way, the music and cleverly placed gun-cocking sounds keep the veins flowing and the ears in tune. The cinematography travels between Instagram filter heaven and artistic fodder. No aspect of the quality of the film ever feels cheap or uninspired.
The performances are all noteworthy. Gomez and Hudgens take what could be career killers (I'm sure there are some moms out there unhappy with the choice) and display mature actresses tackling immature characters. Again, it never feels forced or over the top, even when it should. Franco is clearly the scene stealer of the film, but even he keeps from drawing too much attention away from the distracting and overflowing sights and sounds that are Spring Breakers.
It's definitely not a movie for the faint of heart (or those easily self-convicted). There is rampant spring break-esque nudity and alcohol/drug use and language. Any parent of a high schooler or college aged kid will probably want to steer clear. While it's unrealistic in some regard, it's sure to elicit some intense feelings of fear if/when your kid wants to make a trip to the beaches of Florida.
It's hard to completely defend my A+ score without spoiling some of the movie's greatness. Just imagine glow sticks, hot girls, alcohol, Britney Spears, sunsets, electronic beats, and a sleazy motel all blended together. Add in some redemption and heart, and you've got the makings of the year's best film, so far. Seriously.
Spring Break! Spring Break!
Spring Breakers is now playing in theaters.