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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Spring Breakers | Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, James Franco | Review

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2sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD Judy Thorburn

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2lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers is a far cry from the fluffy 1960 feature film “Where the Boys Are” which revolved around partying in Ft. Lauderdale during college spring break. That was over five decades ago.  A lot has changed since then. Letting loose and having fun takes on a whole new meaning in Indie writer/director Harmony Korine's (Kids, Gummo) indecent film about four young co-eds on spring break. The not so innocent quartet takes “Girls Gone Wild” to the extreme and Korine doesn't paint a pretty picture.

The setting is St. Petersburg, what one character refers to as a Magical Paradise, a mecca for college students to gather during their much anticipated break from studies. For some it leads to trouble and lewdness as the opening sequence focuses on closeups of sun drenched buffed young men and women frolicking in the sun with bouncing bare breasts, shaking booties and other hedonistic behavior filling the screen. These images testify as a foreshadow of things to come.

Best friends, Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), Cotty (Rachel Korine, the director’s wife) and the aptly named, religious Faith (Selena Gomez) can't wait to escape their boring life on campus and head off to St. Petersburg during spring break.  The four have saved up some money, but with not enough to pay for the trip, the brazen girls minus Faith, decide to steal a car, and armed with a squirt gun and sledgehammer,  their faces hidden behind ski masks, stick up the local Chicken Shack. "Just f---in’ pretend it’s a video game. Act like you’re in a movie or something," one girl says to the others.

Loaded with plenty of cash, the girls anxiously hop on a bus to Florida. Upon arrival, the bffs get into skimpy bikinis (which they parade in throughout the film) and begin partying it up in a hotel room where snorting coke, drinking, smoking pot and having sex with strangers are par for the course.

Soon, the girls are arrested and land in jail on drug charges, but are bailed out by a southern drawled, self proclaimed rapper and low life street thug/drug dealer named Alien (a stellar performance by an almost unrecognizable, James Franco beneath cornrowed hair, a shiny silver grill, and tattooed body). Fascinated by the attractive females, Alien takes them back to his seaside mansion filled with an arsenal of automatic weapons, blades, drugs and loads of cash.  “I am living the American Dream”, he says.  The girls, in turn, find this all very exciting and seductive and before you know it they are drawn into Alien's world where a lifestyle of partying, sex, all sorts of debauchery, crime sprees, violence and bloodshed eventually clash. Only “good girl” Faith, who hasn't yet forgone all of her Christian values, comes to her senses and realizes she needs to go back home, leaving her three buddies behind.

Meanwhile it becomes apparent that Alien doesn't have a monopoly in his illegal money making business after he and his “harem” encounter Alien's former friend, turned rival gangsta Big Arch (Gucci Mane). The dangerous Arch poses a threat, stating that he wants Alien to stay away from his turf and disappear.  No need to add any more. You can guess what happens next.

For Disney channel darlings Selena Gomez and Vanessa  Hudgeons, Spring Breakers is a complete departure from what they've done before, but not in good way. If they want to graduate into more mature, adult roles, this certainly is not the vehicle to showcase their range and capabilities.

Benoit Debie's cinematography is eye catching with the inclusion of  occasional hallucinatory and dreamlike images, and the music, a mix of rap  and pulsating dance beats are befitting. In fact, the entire film comes off like an extended music video.   

Regardless of how well it is shot and the electrifying performance by James Franco, I cannot recommend Spring Breakers. Whether filmmaker Korine attempted to make a social commentary or cautionary tale is unclear and that is a major problem.

What is clear is that this is a sexually exploitive, violence filled film that appears to glorify deplorable, immoral behavior by characters that have no care or thought of their action's aftermath, consequences or repercussions.

To reiterate what I stated earlier, Korine paints a sorrowful and ugly picture of today's youth. I wouldn't want my son or daughter to see this film.  Neither would you.


Spring Breakers is rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence

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