Spring Breakers is a weird movie. It’s weird because I hated it while I watched it, but the more I thought about it on the bus ride home, the more I actually appreciated and enjoyed this movie. Harmony Korine has directed and written some cult classics such as Gummo and Kids, but this may be his most mainstream movie to date. Spring Breakers involve four friends named Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez) who all want to go to spring break, but don’t have enough money. So Brit, Candy and Cotty decide that they should rob a store to get the money for Spring Break.
The concept of Spring Breakers is a good one because when you think of spring break, you don’t think of a violent robbery, but it works so well here. This sequence is one of the BEST moments of the entire film. Korine shoots the initial robbery from the perspective of Cotty who is driving the car. We can only see the action through the windows. Brit has a squirt gun disguised as a real gun and Candy has a sledgehammer. We see little bits from the car and then the girls come out laughing because they pulled it off. The whole scene is chilling because they take such pride in robbing everyone and Korine makes it seem like the robbery wasn’t a frightening thing, but later he shows the actual robbery and we see tears and screams from the unsuspecting victims. Scenes like this really show how intense the situation was.
Upon heading to Florida, the four girls spend their days partying, drinking, doing drugs and covering Britney Spears. After they’re thrown in jail, the four girls are bailed out by Alien (James Franco) who sees promise in the girls. This is James Franco at his wildest. Alien is a Scarface loving Gangsta rapper who loves his guns, money and his girls. Selena Gomez is only in it about 30 minutes and once Alien shows up, she decides to leave her friends behind because it’s all too much. Brit, Candy and Cotty decide to stay with Alien and they get all caught up in his Gangsta lifestyle. They’re his “Girls” and they would do anything for him. One AMAZING scene involves something that I would never have imagined would go together. A shooting/robbery spree while flashbacks to a poolside scene show Alien playing “Everytime” by Britney Spears on the Piano. Alien and the girls sing while they dance suggestively together with shotguns. It shouldn’t work, but intertwining the scenes makes it irresistible. It’s funny, it’s disturbing and it works.
The acting in Spring Breakers isn’t amazing, but it’s pretty good. Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine are very convincing as three friends who want to embrace the party lifestyle. They’re tired of a boring life and they are looking for an escape, for a good time. Benson actually replaced Emma Roberts who dropped out of filming due to creative differences and I’m glad that she dropped out because Benson was perfect for the role of Brit. Selena Gomez was also well cast as Faith, the Christian girl who wanted to let loose a little. While she didn’t go as wild as the other three girls, she was a moral compass in a way for the others. She symbolized being pure before being corrupted by the world (her three friends). James Franco will be remembered for his role as Alien. He steals EVERY scene that he’s in. You never know what his character will say or do and that’s the joy of Alien. He’s psychotic, funny, dangerous and an all around well written character.
I have a few negatives for Spring Breakers though. The pacing is all over the place. Korine likes to flashback A LOT. Sometimes when the movie transitioned to another scene, it was at the end of the scene and then the movie walked us through what we just saw. It was cool for some sequences, but it happened way too much. The movie should’ve had more standout scenes. Sometimes, I thought that there were just so many filler scenes. They didn’t advance the plot, but were just put in the movie to add to the runtime. When the movie showed the girls bragging about robbing the restaurant and when the movie showed how they became worse and worse when it came to partying and Alien’s dark lifestyle, the movie shined. I wished for more of that.
The last problem that I had with the movie was the fact that some of the scenes were just a little too excessive. I understand that it’s spring break and that a lot of people are running and partying on the beach naked, but the movie totally glorified this. Within the first 3 minutes of the movie, I had seen more nudity than in any movie I’ve ever watched and that’s only in the FIRST THREE minutes. What follows, are sequences where all you see is partying. The moments with Benson, Gomez, Hudgens and Korine were okay because it showed their progression as characters, but when the partying dealt with random people, it got over the top. In an interview with Selena Gomez, she said that mainly all the spring break scenes were unscripted and that while they were filming, actual spring breakers were just doing drugs and more and that a lot of what is seen on-screen is real.
Spring Breakers had a lot of moments where you really start thinking about real life. Is this movie so over the top that it’s not believable or can we picture a world where partying leads to nonstop drug use, killings and more? The more I sat through Spring Breakers and its occasional ridiculousness, the more I realized that this can entirely happen. Brit tells Candy when they’re plotting to rob the restaurant… “Do this like a movie! You’ve seen it done before.” “You’re playing a video game, point and shoot, that’s all you need to do!” Lines like this are surprisingly realistic and Korine is trying to say something about teens’ mindsets in terms of life, being outgoing and more. They act like adults so many times that I forget the main characters are all teens. When they’re not in class or doing drugs, they are watching My Little Pony and chilling. These small moments bring us back to the fact they are young.
Spring Breakers seems like a comedy and in a lot of ways it is, but I feel that this is also a drama/thriller. This movie asks a lot of questions about society. It makes me think about how the world around us actually is. The movie is a metaphor about how we want it all. These girls are going to spring break for the fun, but after meeting Alien, they know that they can get whatever their heart desires. They can have money, possessions, guys/girls and happiness. There are moments when they say that everything is great when it’s certainly not. At what point is it too much? If we cross the line, can we be forgiven? Can we turn back? As the girls go deeper into this world, can they escape?
I love the fact that Harmony Korine is such a daring filmmaker. First off, he made a movie like this. Second, he casted three girls who don’t do mature roles. With the exception of Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson all have huge preteen and teen fan-bases. They’ve only really done ABC and Disney shows. It’s actually pretty awesome to see them try to further their careers by stepping away from the people who gave them their big breaks. They wanted to make older fans and I think that they really succeeded. They take their images to new extremes and while they’re doing crazy things, these girls prove a point. They’re older girls and they can’t always stick around playing high school kids. While their shows have premiered a while ago, their fans are getting older. So they made a movie that will appeal to their fans who no longer like the younger shows as well as adults who may have never seen these girls before.