MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
James Franco as ALIEN
Selena Gomez as FAITH
Vanessa Hudgens as CANDY
Ashley Benson as BRIT
Rachel Korine as COTTY
Gucci Mane as ARCHIE
Directed by: Harmony Korine
BY KEVIN CARR
Before I started watching “Spring Breakers,” I was pretty unfamiliar with Harmony Korine. On the one hand, that’s a good thing because I wasn’t saddled with knowledge of his previous filmography. This movie didn’t have to hold up to anything I’d seen in the past. On the other hand, since I didn’t have any previous appreciation for his work, this was all new to me and had to stand on its own.
I know a lot of people thought this movie was fantastic, and I suppose I can see why to some degree. There’s a lot of interesting photography going on, and the focus on music (which is at a level I’m utterly disinterested in) was impressive if not appreciated by me. However, I couldn’t get past the feeling that this was basically the director’s spank material masquerading as a feature film.
The story follows a group of college girls who desperately want to go on spring break and escape from their humdrum Midwestern existence. In order to do so, they rob a local restaurant and use the money to fund their trip to Florida. Once there, they enjoy a life of drinking and debauchery, until they are arrested for drug possession. Because they have no money left, a local drug dealer and white rapper named Alien (James Franco) bails them out and brings them into his dangerous lifestyle. Some of the girls can handle it, but others cannot.
I can’t say that I hated “Spring Breakers,” but one you get past the first five minutes of butt-jiggling, I was bored with the movie. The characters are insipid and poorly constructed (even for the shallow entitled jerks that they were), relying on too much improvised dialogue by people trying to act rather than act naturally. The film suffers from a bulk of repetition, revisiting lines of dialogue, establishing shots and flashbacks to the point of boredom. Seriously, after the fifth time I saw the same set of boobs bouncing in slow motion from “real” spring breakers, I wanted to turn the movie off and make myself a sandwich.
There’s a certain point to be made about the entitled attitude of the younger generation (but then again, this isn’t a new concept to Korine, who I’m sure has been accused of this very thing himself). But the actions of the characters are sometimes nonsensical and ridiculous, like when Faith (Selena Gomez) leaves a message for her grandmother telling her how much she’d like her to be there to share the experience with her.
The ultimate problem is that Korine takes himself – and the entire movie – more seriously than he should. There’s not a shred of lightheartedness or humor even in the most ridiculous situations. Even the wasted days of the wayward youth are spend with such serious excess that it drags the movie down.
The only saving grace of this film is James Franco as Alien, one of the more colorful and bizarre characters you’ll see in a movie this year. Sure, the character still swirls the drain with self-importance and nauseating repetition, but at least he’s entertaining to watch.
Yes, Korine has a point, and it’s only slightly an excuse to feature his wife in a leading role and watch a bunch of hot, young girls bounce around in bikinis. But Korine’s point is lost in his love of his own material. “Spring Breakers” may be art in the strict sense of the word, but it’s art that has been wrapped up in its own brilliance that it fails to see that it really isn’t very brilliant at all.
The other saving grace to getting the Blu-ray of “Spring Breakers” is a nice assortment of special features. These include deleted scenes and outtakes, a three-part featurette “Breaking It Down: Behind Spring Breakers,” “Harmony’s Ear Candy” about the film’s score, three “Vice” feaurettes (“The ATL Twins Zone,” “The Redneck Riviera” and “Dirtona Beach), the theatrical trailer, TV spots and a commentary track by Korine.