Comedy doesn’t get much darker than controversial auteur Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” The “Gummo” filmmaker’s most mainstream effort to date, “Spring Breakers” is at once sexy, unsettling, thrilling, and funny. Cinephiles longing for unusual, highly stylized fare need not look further than Korine’s captivating new flick.
“Spring Breakers” depicts the sordid adventures of Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine, the director’s wife), and Brit (Ashley Benson), a tightly-knit group of girlfriends who attend an unnamed Christian university. They cannot stand their school’s clean-cut culture. Desperate for a temporary escape, the trio robs a restaurant so they can afford the debauchery-ridden Spring Break trip of their dreams. Following the heist, they drag their goody-two shoes classmate Faith (Selena Gomez) out of bed and head down to Florida for a week full of sex, drugs, and depravity. Things take a sour turn for the gals after meeting James Franco’s Alien, a sleazy wannabe-rapper with a sinister agenda.
It should come as no surprise that much of the entertainment value in “Spring Breakers” is derived from witnessing teenybopper stars Hudgens, Benson, and Gomez engage in lurid activities that you’d never see them do on Fox Family or the Disney Channel. While their acting here is far from stellar, watching these tween idols rip bongs and fire guns is pure fun. As expected, it’s James Franco who ultimately steals the show. His over-the-top white trash gangster is easily the most compelling personality in “Spring Breakers.” One of the film’s most memorable scenes has the “127 Hours” and “Pineapple Express” star performing an eerie piano cover of Britney Spears’ “ Everytime.” The moment exemplifies “Spring Breakers”’s comical yet ominous tone.
Clocking in at a breezy 94 briminutes, “Spring Breakers” moves along at a brisker pace than most new releases. From beginning to end, Harmony Korine’s script will keep audiences on edge with its slow-burn approach to building tension. The film’s intensity is complimented quite nicely by Korine’s bizarre sense of humor as well as a lively party soundtrack that features several tunes by EDM icon Skrillex.
Despite a recognizable A-list cast, “Spring Breakers” does not have any mass appeal. Many will find the movie’s in-your-face depiction of violence and sexuality to be off-putting or trashy. Others will be repelled by Korine’s disjointed art house style. However, adult movie goers looking for a cleverly offbeat take on the crime genre should rendezvous with “Spring Breakers” immediately.