Spring Breakers’: Unconventional and Unforgettable
Will Neal | Monday, March 25, 2013
Oh, “Spring Breakers.” Where do I begin? Well, I’ll start by saying that, like it or not, this is one film you are never going to forget. From the crazed mind of Harmony Korine, the story of four wild college girls and their adventure down to Tampa, Florida, reaches the point of dream-like insanity from the opening montage. It’s hard to sum up my feelings for this movie, but I can say with complete certainty this is one of the funniest and most outrageous films I’ve seen in years. If the sheer hilarity of the movie wasn’t surprising enough, “Spring Breakers” offers a rather bold underlying reflection on the current state of youth in America. Who would’ve guessed?
Before we get into breaking this film down, let’s quickly jump into what this movie is all about. “Spring Breakers” follows the misadventures of Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) – four girls just looking for a good time.
As much as these girls are dying to go to Florida to join in the March madness, they don’t exactly have the funds to pay for the trip. So, what do they do? Steal a car, put on ski masks and rob a Chicken Shack, of course. Next thing you know, the girls are packing up to go down south and cut loose from the “boring” and repetitive college lives they’ve been suffocated by for too long. From the bus ride to their beach party destination, their world transitions into slow-motion, booze-filled montages to the tunes ofpdubstep.
From here, “Spring Breakers” breaks into an art-house style music video as we see hoards of party-goers getting trashed on the beach, at the pool and on hotel balconies. The girls participate in every moment of the madness, from keg-stands and foam parties to neon raves and hotel-room trashing (everything you could ask for in a quality spring break, right?). Things get a little too out of hand after all four of the girls (yes, even Selena Gomez) are caught with cocaine and sent to jail. You’d think the party would be over, but everyone knows that when four pretty girls are in distress, there’s always a knight in shining armor to come along and save the day. Thankfully, we get something FAR better than the standard upstanding gentlemanly role. We get James Franco in cornrows playing a wannabe rapper and straight-up gangster named Alien (“My real name is Al, but truf be told, I am not from this planet, y’all”). Alien then decides to take the girls (minus Faith) under his wing and show them the hustler lifestyle. From here, the storyline becomes dangerous and hysterically quotable (“Some people tell me I got to change. I am ’bout STACKIN’ change!”) as the three remaining girls enter the adrenaline-fueled lifestyle of drugs, guns and gang wars. I won’t go into the ending, but just be aware the movie gets progressively crazier from start to finish.
Sure, the movie is out of control, but writer and director Harmony Korine is a madman who sought to create a movie-going experience that comes off as a “poetic video game.” It’s certainly a bizarre intention for his film, but go on YouTube and search for one of Harmony Korine’s interviews with David Letterman. You’ll get a great idea of where the insanity of “Spring Breakers” is coming from.
There’s a moment in the movie’s beginning where Faith tells her friends she’s “tired of the same old thing” and wants to experience something new and different. This definitely reflects what Korine hopes to and does accomplish with his film, as it’s an experience that certainly isn’t familiar. He’s been a part of the movie business since the age of 18 with his wild screenplay for the movie “Kids,” but even as a grown husband and father, Korine still strives to bring to life his chaotic concepts, which are always far from the norm.
His bold filmmaking styles alternatively work for and against the film. Nearly every piece of dialogue you hear is repeated and on loop two to three times over to set a dream-like tone for the audience. The pacing of the movie is spastic as almost half of the movie is made up of montages that are strung together with overlapping dialogue. While most of the film is ridiculously entertaining, there are several moments that drag on for far too long and disrupt its fast-paced style.
While he certainly isn’t conventional, Korine creates some incredibly impressive moments, such as the Chicken Shack robbery where in one take, we see from the get-away driver’s perspective the whole robbery as she drives around the restaurant. What is even more bizarre than Korine’s directorial style is the film’s dialogue. Aside from Alien’s endlessly quotable lines (“I’m made of money! Look at my f***in’ teeth! They should call me ‘money!'”), the girls often get into extremely and unnaturally deep conversation topics about finding purpose in life … right after drunkenly dancing in a parking lot in bikinis and high-top sneakers while singing Britney Spears. These characters have aspects about them that seem genuine at times and completely exaggerated at others.
The four leading actresses give highly entertaining (if not overblown) performances, but ultimately they stand out stronger as a group than individually. Ashley Benson as Brit is probably the weakest link in this ensemble due to a rather stale performance, even when energetic. Selena Gomez, though her character departs from the movie sooner than the other girls, gives a needed dose of emotion to her roll as the paranoid, good-hearted Christian, appropriately named Faith. The roles of Hudgens and Gomez will frequently make your heads spin when you ask yourself, “These girls used to be on Disney Channel?” Even with their G-rated starlet backgrounds, these two girls certainly shed away much of the personas we used to know them by.
While this movie is by no means everyone’s cup of tea, I urge you to see “Spring Breakers” solely for James Franco’s performance. The guy completely transforms himself into the low-life Alien as he steals every scene he’s in with a hysterical performance and delivery of his dialogue. The greatest scene of the film (and perhaps out of any movie this year) comes when the girls ask Alien to play and sing them a “sensitive and inspiring song.” His song choice is Britney Spears’ “Everytime,” which leads into a crime-filled montage with bed-jumping and gun-coddling. This scene is laugh-out-loud hilarious and may be enough of a reason to push people to see this movie.
So, do you think you can handle the madness of “Spring Breakers?” Just be ready for a movie so weird, risquÃ©, violent and ridiculously entertaining that you will consistently be turning to your friends asking what you are watching. This movie is not for most people. It’s frantic and all over the place, but because of its entertainment value, its crazed look into today’s youth culture and James Franco’s hysterical performance, it may still be worth checking out. Like it or not, you won’t forget “Spring Breakers” after watching it. Spring break foreva’, y’all.