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Spring Breakers - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Spring Breakers
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B

Okay, let me paint you a picture. James Franco in cornrows and silver-capped teeth, singing a Britney Spears ballad to three machine-gun-toting girls in pink ski masks. At a white piano. In the sunset.

Not all of Spring Breakers is this very special blend of preposterous and bizarre (did I mention the ski masks have unicorn appliqués on them?), but it's all hurtling inexorably toward that point. There's some genuine entertainment value here. But it's certainly not for everyone.

"Not for everyone" is probably a good descriptor for writer-director Harmony Korine, who wrote the very low-budget but highly acclaimed Kids in 1995. Spring Breakers feels a little like what happens when unlikely early success goes unchecked, you know, for about two decades.

The title is slightly misleading. This is about Spring Break turning into something much darker. And at its core, it's about some Very Bad Girls who basically use this week-long foray into drunken debauchery to realize their potential. That is, violent potential.

Korine had specific actresses in mind for the film, in the hopes of turning their good-girl Disney reputations on their heads: Ashley Benson from the TV series Eastwick and Pretty Little Liars; Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical; and Selena Gomez from the TV series Wizards of Waverly Place and previously Hannah Montana. Together with Rachel Korine, who was seen in Korine's previous feature Trash Humpers, these four play college kids convinced they are desperate to leave the monotony of their home life for the exotic excitement of St. Petersburg.

They have been friends since grade school, but only Faith (Gomez) is involved in church group activities, which both makes her the most moral of the foursome and still does the most to twist Gomez's good-girl reputation. Faith is the only one not involved in the successful scheme, by the other three, to knock off a local diner in order to get the money they need to go to Florida. They wear ski masks in this scene, but not the pink ones -- those come later.

At first, Faith takes this news like her three other friends are just lovable nuts. It's not until they all get busted by the police in a drug-laden party in St. Petersburg and spend the night in jail that she begins to have a change of heart. It's a guy who calls himself "Alien" (James Franco -- in easily the film's best performance) who bails them out of jail, and Spring Break goes in some very strange and violent directions.

Until then, it's all about stereotypical Spring Break debauchery. We get lots of slow-motion shots of shirtless guys and shirtless women screaming and chugging and spraying beer all over the place. In one brief sequence, a couple of the guys -- presumably straight -- are hanging out at the party in nothing but jock straps. Does this shit actually happen? I honestly can't speak to how realistic these depictions are. I never did the Spring Break thing. I suspect, however, that it's an exaggeration -- if the later activities of Alien and the girls are any indication. Alien should really be wary of these girls who, of course, don't exist in the real world. He doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.

Spring Breakers is not exactly predictable; I'll give it that. The writing veers from nearly inspired to nearly hacky in regular intervals. The cinematography is exemplary, especially for a movie this odd, but the editing is a tad too snappy for its own good. Lots of intercuts with flash-forward scenes and a propensity toward repeating dialogue, each time said slightly differently, that grows tiresome. At first it seems clever, until it gets done so much it feels like a tick.

I'm not sure this movie is trying to be anything but twisted fun. The "fun" part kind of comes and goes. There's certainly never a dull moment.

Rachel Korine, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez take things a little far in SPRING BREAKERS.

Overall: B
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