Beauties and the Beach: Six Spring Break Movies

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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.
Photo Credit: A24
April 7th, 2014

For many, the words "spring break" instantly bring to mind sunny beaches, wild parties and beautiful young people having the time of their lives. Movie-goers have Hollywood to thank for this. Movies have taken the week-long break, which generally serves as a rest and relaxation period for students, and turned it into the party to end all parties. These six films serve as the best examples of a movie incorporating spring break into its plot.

"Spring Break"

spring-break.jpgPhoto Credit: Columbia Pictures

The success of films such as "Animal House" and "Porky's" spawned a bevy of teen sex comedies in the early 1980s, many of them of dubious quality. The 1983 movie "Spring Break" serves as a prime example of the trend, telling the story of four college students spending a week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Spring Break" attempts some assemblage of a plot that involves one of the characters' domineering father and commercial real estate property rights. Needless to say, the movie is fully fleshed out (pun intended) with montages of babes in bikinis soaking up the Florida sunshine. Interestingly, the film's director, Sean Cunningham, was also at the helm of  the horror classic "Friday the 13th."

"Where the Boys Are"

where-the-boys-are.jpgPhoto Credit: MGM

Once again, Fort Lauderdale serves as the setting for this spring break-themed movie. This 1960 film revolves around four young Midwestern girls as they experience romance and adventure on the sandy shores of Florida. Given the time period of its release, "Where the Boys Are" is decidedly less raunchy than many other movies on this list. Over the years, the film has gained a solid reputation as a strong coming-of-age film indicative of the times in which it was made. A 1984 remake gives in to the hackneyed trappings that the original avoids.

"From Justin To Kelly"

justin-kelly.jpgPhoto Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

 

While "American Idol" is now just another reality singing competition, it was once a major pop culture phenomenon, particularly after its widely successful first season in which Texas bartender Kelly Clarkson triumphed over Justin Guarini in the finale. With "Idol" earning record TV ratings during its first season, 20th Century Fox looked to cash in quickly to build on the momentum. Thus, the studio lured Clarkson and Guarini into a spring break-themed musical that was filmed in the span of a few weeks in Fort Lauderdale. "From Justin To Kelly" proved to be a notorious box office bomb, thankfully putting an end to "Idol"-related movies before the trend could begin.

"Spring Breakers"

spring_breakers.jpgPhoto Credit: A24

Whereas the other films mentioned here employ a lighter tone when detailing the adventures of their main characters on spring break, director Harmony Korine takes a dark approach with his 2013 film "Spring Breakers." In the movie, four bored college girls head to Florida in the hopes of finding adventure. What separates this movie from the others on this list is the fact that the girls are ready to commit major crimes just to feel a rush of excitement. Spearheaded by a bizarre performance from James Franco as a rapper named Alien, "Spring Breakers" proves to be an insightful indictment of its main characters and party films in general.

"Revenge of the Nerds II"

revenge-of-the-nerds-ii.jpgPhoto Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The beloved nerds of Lambda Lambda Lambda hit the road in this 1987 sequel. The movie finds the Tri-Lambs once again suffering degradation and humiliation at the hands of the bullies from Alpha Beta at the national fraternity convention at (where else?) Fort Lauderdale. "Revenge of the Nerds II" may change the setting from the first film, but the plot is essentially the same. There is even a musical number at a pivotal point in the plot, just like in the first film. While this "Nerds" did not prove to be as successful commercially and critically as the first movie, it did allow the franchise to continue on in a string of direct-to-video sequels.

"Girl Happy"

girl-happy.jpgPhoto Credit: MGM

At the peak of his popularity, Elvis Presley proved to be a force in music and movies. In 1964, Presley starred in one of his best films, "Viva Las Vegas," with Ann-Margaret. Presley opted to build on that box office momentum with a 1965 spring break-themed movie called "Girl Happy." In the movie, a mobster hires singer Rusty Wells, played by Presley, and his band to keep an eye on his vacationing daughter. Naturally, Rusty and the daughter fall in love, leading to many musical numbers and one of the most vibrant spring break movies ever produced.

Spring break is an event that immediately conjures up images of adventure and excitement, which is why Hollywood is likely to continue to use it as the backdrop for movies involving teens and young adults. While past films involving spring break have varied widely in quality, each has embodied the entertaining vibe of the occasion.