Sunday, March 24, 2013

Movie Review: Spring Breakers

When it first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival Spring Breakers seemed like it would get a limited release but there wasn’t much to it.  But after  its showing at the SXSW Film Festival it found it audience and the buzz grew quickly.  After getting an amazing 270,000 from three theatres it became one of the first must see movies of the year.  With all the talk about nudity, drugs, and guns with some former Disney stars the movie piqued my interest and I headed out to see what all the fuss was about.  The movie delivered what it had promised there is a little debauchery in here for everyone. 
The plot of the movie is really simple. Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and Faith (Selena Gomez) want to go to St. Petersburg Florida for spring break.  At first they don’t have money and three of the girls decide to rob a diner.  Once they have the money and make it to spring break the craziness continues.  After being arrested they are bailed out by a drug dealer and wannabe rapper Alien (James Franco).  Once they are a part of Aliens entourage he learns these girls are really not the average spring breakers. 

Harmony Korine’s big breakthrough came as a screenwriter came in 1995 with Kids.  That movie was a disturbing look at sex obsessed youth in New York City.  Even though it was directed by Larry Clark the praise for that movie allowed Korine to start directing his own movies.  I have not seen any of his other movies (Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy, or Trash Humpers) but have heard they are all pretty disturbing and odd.  Which makes Spring Breakers his most mainstream movie but that isn’t saying much. 

The movie is more style over substance.  It has an unconventional story narrative with lots of montages and dialogue spoken over random images.  Certain lines of dialogue are repeated over and over and the movie jumps back and forth in time.  It has a similar story telling as The Tree of Life just with boobs, drugs, and guns.  Despite all the nudity and guns there is not much sex or violence going on in the movie.  But there is a whole lot of drug and alcohol use.   The score by Skrillex and Cliff Martinez (Drive) with the some cool looking shots keeps you entranced.  

As far as the acting goes not much is asked from the girls except to be pretty and shake their asses which they do very effectively.  Selena Gomez as Faith the good Christian girl of the group has the most interesting role of the four girls but  it is James Franco as the drug dealing rapper with Alien that steals the show.  Franco gets to let loose and play a crazy character with cornrowed hair and platinum teeth.  He seems to have a lot of fun with the role which makes him a lot of fun to watch. 

Who would like this movie? It is hard to say who will like this movie.  It is somewhere between an arty independent movie and a trashy Cinemax movie.  It is not for the average movie goer and definitely not for teens.  While the allure of sex, drugs, and violence will appeal to the younger crowd the bizarre narrative structure is going disappoint them.  This is not a raunchy party movie like 21 and Over or Project X.  It is like a Terrence Malick movie on acid.  If you like linear stories then you will probably not like this one. 

Overall: 3.5/5
Even with the unconventional narrative structure I got sucked in.  There is just something crazy about the whole thing.  You get the idea that Harmony Korine is trying to make a statement about youth culture but it is not clear what that statement is.  It is one movie that I will probably be thinking about for a while and change my mind a few times about.  And any movie that makes me think is a movie I like. 

Here is the Red Band Trailer

  And here is a short clip showcasing how crazy James Franco gets to be.


  1. Nice review Stephen. It's a film that keeps you alert, awake, and shifting in your seat for the duration of its run time, and whether or not that’s a good thing; is totally up to you. For me, it was good.

  2. Thanks, it's a hard movie to label as it straddles the line between different genres, but it kept me engaged and any movie that makes me either uncomfortable or leaves me thinking has done its job.