You know a movie is in big trouble when the sight of copious bare breasts becomes boring. Such is the case in Spring Breakers, a thoroughly detestable piece of gutter trash masquerading as some kind of abstract piece of pop art. Defenders point to its supposed satirizing of a material culture and the consequences that come with it, but count me out. The film takes itself with deadly seriousness and is filled with awful people doing awful things.
The story concerns four college girls. We have Faith (Gomez), who has a strong Christian background, and her friends Candy (Hudgens), Brit (Benson), and Cotty (Korine), who are all wild and “demons” according to Faith’s church friends. They’re all broke and desperate to fund a trip to St. Petersburg, Florida for Spring Break. So desperate they rob a local restaurant and take off for Florida. After getting into trouble at a hotel party they’re locked up in county prison, only to be bailed out by a mysterious rapper/gang-banger named Alien (Franco). With cars and money, he lures the girls in to a life of crime and excess.
Director Harmony Korine is known for bad taste and for being a “provocateur” of sorts, and that’s fine as long as you have something to say in the process. Spring Breakers goes absolutely nowhere, featuring a half-baked plot and a no-baked conclusion. Aside from Faith, the other three girls are completely interchangeable and have no distinguishable characteristics. There’s no reason to believe Korine doesn’t hate all of them, so why shouldn’t we? The subplot, which sets up the bloodbath conclusion, involving Alien’s underground competition is so glossed over that it’s delusional on Korine’s part to think anyone would care.
There’s been talk of James Franco being a Supporting Actor contender for his work as Alien. Is this some kind of cosmic joke? True, he’s the best part of the film by a long shot, but that’s like saying the cough is the best part of the flu. Bad taste, excessive nudity, drug use, and violence are all fine in movies, but you have to do something with them. Spring Breakers plays like a dirty old man’s pointless fantasy. It’s not fun, it’s not provocative, and all you’ll really feel like doing when it mercifully ends is taking a hot shower and getting a Chlamydia vaccine.
Length: 94 Minutes
Rating: R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout.
Theatrical Release: 2012 (International Film Festivals) / March 22, 2013 (USA)
Directed by: Harmony Korine
Written by: Harmony Korine
Cast: James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine