MRR Movie Review: Spring Breakers

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Four college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson & Rachel Korine) land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation, only to find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer (James Franco) who wants them to do some dirty work.
3.5

Selena Gomez and Harmony Korine are an unlikely pair, to say the least.

Gomez starred in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place for years, while Korine is best known for writing and directing dark and gritty features like Kids and Gummo. So when Korine set out to make a film about “girls in bikinis with guns,” it was surprising to hear Disney’s Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, and Ashley Benson attached to the project. (Ashley Benson stars in ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.)

Spring Breakers centers around a group of four girls, three of which are the aforementioned Disney stars. Interestingly, the fourth member of their group, Cotty, is played by Harmony Korine’s actual wife Rachel. Together the four women deliver a pretty entertaining performance. They are believable, engaging, and fun to watch.

When we first meet the girls they’re bored and broke, trying to figure out a way to get to Florida for spring break. Before there’s time to understand much about this group of girls--beyond a montage of drugs, recklessness, and a fixation on guns –things escalate.

Very quickly, the girls are stealing a car, robbing a restaurant, and thoroughly enjoying every second of the experience. It’s clear these girls are doomed from the start. That is, except for Faith (played by Gomez), who doesn’t find out until later how they got the money. But she’s quickly brought back into the fold when she isn’t bothered by the robbery once they tell her.

Together, the group of besties hop on a party bus down to St. Petersburg Florida, where we are greeted with scenes of the wildest spring break imaginable. Shirtless girls are bouncing on shoulders, Skillrex is bumping, and everyone seems to be chugging, snorting, or smoking something. It’s wild. It’s reckless. It’s alive… it’s Harmony Korine. And although it’s never clear whether Korine is belittling or celebrating this extreme notion of spring break, it feels closer to the former than the latter.

The party comes to a halt when the girls are thrown in jail, getting dragged out of a party and locked up in nothing but their bikinis. With no money to make bail, they are left sitting in jail for a couple of days, and again all seem eerily ok with the whole situation. Luckily, the girls had been partying with some sketchy locals, who knew some more sketchy locals, who were interested enough in four young girls in bikinis to bail them out of prison.

And just who is the knight in shining armor that saves the day? None other than Alien, a local drug kingpin played by James Franco. Franco keeps the movie light and fun, while playing one of the darkest seediest characters of his career. Along with Franco comes a comedic turn for the movie, which crescendos beautifully to Britney Spears’ Everytime in a scene so funny you forget how sordid the whole situation is.

Once again, things escalate and Spring Breakers becomes less about girls getting wild on spring break, and more a gritty story of girls coming entirely unraveled by the world the seemed destined to embrace.

The final scene is a wonderfully dark surprise, leaving the lingering question: Was any of this worth watching in the first place? The short answer, probably.

SPRING BREAKERS opens nationwide March 22nd, and will also be releasing at AMC Empire 25 as well as Regal Union Square Stadium 14 this weekend.