Have you ever wanted to see a movie that starts off with a four-minute slow motion dubstep music video on a beach with a bunch of backwards hat wearing bros chugging beers and topless women swallowing red, white, & blue popsicles? I mean, OTHER than The Maltese Falcon, obviously. Then this movie might be right up your alley!
Spring Breakers tells the story of four college students who can't afford to go to Florida for spring break with the rest of their peers. So to get the money to party, they rob a restaurant. This, I guess, gives them kind of a crime lust? Once they hook up with a drug dealer/rapper/poet/entrepreneur named Alien (James Franco), they start to delve into the comically ludicrous underbelly of a Florida resort town. Real life rapper Gucci Mane is the main villain (unless you count THE ECONOMY). That's about the most I could come up with in terms of a functioning plot to the movie. Oh, and Skrillex created the music score. WUB WUB WUB WUB WUBWUBWUBWUB
There has been talk about how this film has a lot of socioeconomic relevance, being some sort of commentary on the state of America's college system, causing the young ladies in this film to resort to great lengths just to obtain money. I don't know if I'd go that far. Saying that Spring Breakers is making a grand statement about student loans or the downfall of educational values is kind of like saying that Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a huge metaphor for the inadequacy of standardized testing in high schools or something. I guess you could make a connection if you wanted, but it'd be a stretch, and you'd probably look like a weirdo. A lot of the first act features Faith (Selena Gomez) talking about how she wants to leave the dull college life for a "magical" getting-drunk-on-a-beach lifestyle. I guess that could be read into as a statement about how America's youth are abandoning traditional ideals for less flattering ones, but I kind of just saw it as bad dialogue.
But then I start to judge Spring Breakers solely on a low-brow level, and it's actually pretty decent. It has the violence, nudity, and dumb comedy I was expecting to see based on the previews. And it's all covered by a layer of hyper-stylized cinematography and editing reminiscent of Natural Born Killers or Requiem for a Dream. If Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez had somehow managed to keep producing Grindhouse double features every year, this movie would have been a great installment in the 2013 edition.
The movie is fun when it wants to be, yet kind of boring when it doesn't try to be crazy. James Franco is pretty great as Alien, as he furthers to continue his odd career choices in magical ways. I will say he acted the crap out of Spring Breakers, and it redeems him for his questionable delivery in Oz the Great and Powerful. I think it's because he was actually having a good time while filming this one. He got to perform oral sex on a handgun, and sing a full piano rendition of "Everytime" by Britney Spears, and he had his giant crinkle-faced smile the whole time. Only it was like real crinkle face, not forced crinkle-face.
I guess it was a test for America to open this movie in wide release, and try to bank on the fact that it's a movie about Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens strutting around in bikinis for 90 minutes, and America for the most part passed the test. It only made $5 million, and opened sixth in the box office. Hardly the "most talked about movie of the year" as the commercials claim it is. It's pretty much a film centered around gimmicky casting and the promise of nudity. Maybe America is less pervy than I thought we were? I'm sure you'd like to call me a hypocrite, because I'm part of the problem, as I gave Spring Breakers $7.50 of its $5 million... But I go to the theater every weekend, and I probably would have watched this if it had no hype and starred a bunch of nobodies. I just didn't want to see The Croods.
At the very least, Harmony Korine has finally made a tolerable film. I'm normally repulsed by his work, not on a shock value level, but on a terrible nonsense level. I still rank Gummo as one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It's so bad it's bad. That movie is unwatchable layer after unwatchable layer of hogwash. Even his best effort before this one, Kids, is still a terrible film because of the dialogue and the characters. That one had more of a message than Spring Breakers, but much less of a sense of humor, which Korine really needs to make his films tolerable. I think if you offered to pay me $100 to watch Trash Humpers, I'd probably refuse. I'm going to leave that one in the never-plan-on-watching list. A bunch of nitwits in old people makeup riding bicycles around a trailer park having sex with bags of garbage... EHHH, I THINK I'LL PASS.
But Spring Breakers is a worthwhile film in terms of entertainment. I think people hoping for a literal adaptation of Girls Gone Wild into a narrative film will be somewhat disappointed. There is a pretty consistent indie film art-house style throughout. The kind of "let's loop audio bites for no reason" style that usually turns off the very bros that they won over in the opening scene. If I try to think of Spring Breakers as a film with a message, it immediately comes across as a hilarious failure. If I just think of it as a celebration of carnal urges and over-the-top silliness, then it comes across as a respectable foray into the "chicks shooting machine guns" genre. It's not exactly a victory for women's lib, but it's not really trying to be. Or is it...?! That's why it's so frustrating!
7 out of 10
This is my favorite review of yours Scott, thanks!