Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
OK, I’ll admit it, I wanted to see Spring Breakers because of the seemingly epic combination of Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez, and Rachel Korine, running around in bikinis, doing drugs, and robbing people. I thought it might be something along the lines of a girls gone REALLY wild. After watching Spring Breakers I will say there are parts of the film definitely have that quality about them, but the real star of movie is James Franco, who steals the entire thing.
Spring Breakers starts off with boobs, and I mean LOTS of boobs, in your face. Even for me, who loves boobs, it started to get a little uncomfortable with the way writer/director Harmony Korine was zooming in on certain areas, and the way in which the women were treated almost purely as sex objects. I think the discomfort was intentional, because the viewer’s initial discomfort would be mirrored in the film by Selena Gomez’s initial discomfort when the girls first meet Franco’s character, a white rapper/gangster named Alien. I’m skipping ahead a bit with that, though.
Much like From Dusk Till Dawn, Spring Breakers seems like two completely different movies. There’s the portion of the film that involves getting to spring break, and the girls enjoying themselves, which includes robbing a restaurant and everyone in it to fund their trip, and then there’s everything that happens after the girls meet Alien, which is when the movie gets really interesting. This is when the guns, drugs, and nihilism get cranked up to eleven. We’re never really given a reason for why the girls enjoy it all so much, but after their first robbery, they seem to get high off of it.
Where I start to have a small issue with the movie is that we aren’t really given reasons to care about the girls, except for the scared Selena Gomez, who is the closest thing Spring Breakers has to a good girl, even though she immediately lights up a cigarette after a night with her church group (which, in a really strange cameo, was led by pro wrestler Jeff Jarrett), and eventually enjoys some less legal things. The girls are beautiful, some of them are bad, but as a viewer you really don’t care what happens to them.
Franco’s Alien is the only truly well rounded character in the film. We know his past, both through his own story telling, and through his arch rival, played by Gucci Mane. Franco also plays Alien so over the top that you can’t wait to see what he does, or says, next. At one point his incredibly random singing of a Britney Spears ballad segues to a montage of violence that completely alters the meaning of the song in a fairly disturbing way.
This is what makes Spring Breakers work. It may not have an incredible plot, and most of its characters may be one dimensional, but it harnesses the beautiful and the disturbing at the same time. There is the beauty of the girls, and there are the disturbing things they do. It simultaneously makes you feel excited and uncomfortable. It’s a strange viewing experience, but in the end it’s one you’ll definitely talk about.