Spring Breakers Review
Harmony Korine Satirizes Gen Y
Here I thought The Last Stand was difficult to review. Director Harmony Korine (Gummo, Mister Lonely, writer of Kids) submits a film raising the issues of an entire generation’s addiction to constant partying unfortunately coupled with laziness. Our four femme fatale protagonists want to drink, smoke, party and fornicate but they don’t want to foot the bill or account for what they’ve done. There is a certain depth to this film, but it gets muddied at times by unnecessary scenes depicting an excess of any particular vice. Korine has so much to say (and it seems all valid), but artistic liberties with pacing get in the way of what could have been a classic art film.
The plot plays out like it’s always one joke away from turning into a Will Ferrell/ Adam McKay picture. We have four broke girls (including Vanessa Hudgens and Korine’s wife, Rachel) all alone on Mediocre Campus USA who can’t get to their Florida Spring Break vacation that they desire more than anything in the world. None of them have a job let alone the ambition or initiative to get a job. They just can’t take “no” for an answer. Three of our heroines decide to rob a restaurant in order fund their adventure down south. The fourth heroine (Selena Gomez) does not participate in the robbery as she is a member of her college’s Christian Bible study for youths. Despite her religious roots, Faith (Gomez) wants to join her friends for a week of Saturnalia in the South. This raises the second question of the film: is secular morality really that different from Christian morality? After marriage equality, abortion laws and execution of prisoners, both moralities tend to agree on most things. Can’t we all be civil to each other in our attempts to understand each other?
Here is where the film really gets going: a montage follows the girls gallivanting about Florida. They drink, smoke, snort and do most other things you expect spring breakers do until the police bust them and two incredibly close twin brothers for using cocaine. A mysterious stranger bails them out of jail following their court appeal. The stranger reveals himself to be Spring Break hip hop icon/hustla/ballr (sic) named Alien (James Franco). Alien has so much money that the girls just can’t help but ignore any questions regarding the “howsabouts” of his income. Alien has fast, foreign cars, shiny grills, stacks ‘o’ cash, an entire weapons cache and a growing rap career to boot. The same three girls who robbed the bank become fascinated with their Prince Charming who footed the bail as Faith becomes mortified by his very touch. Gucci Mane appears as Alien’s former best friend/ rival hustler.
Franco steals the show like it was his for the taking. As far as the writing’s concerned, it is. He gives an over-the-top-yet-somehow-believable rapper/ gangster right down to the Florida tattoo on his left bicep. Clearly Korine had Franco in mind for the role Alien. Franco’s reputation as a hard-working, trailblazing and fearless actor lends itself perfectly to Alien. His talent for improvisation is much-needed for the ridiculous, larger-than-life character. I haven’t laughed at a film so hard since Bruno in 2009 due to one scene in particular involving Alien boasting about his wealth and power. My laugh grew greater when Alien began playing a Britney Spears track on his white piano which transitioned into the real track playing over a montage of hustling in ski masks. The balance of Britney Spears and Skrillex in this film is more harmonious than you’d expect.
Korine had me calling this film a genius thought-provoker until the third act. The third starts out ridiculously unnecessary and then end feels tacked on due to a surreal shootout. The act begins with an unnecessarily lengthy sex scene intercut with quick shots alluding to the ending. There’s nothing artistic to this method — only the illusion of something artistic. The clunky finale left me feeling incomplete about the film, but maybe that’s the point of the film. Maybe we’re supposed to feel as empty as the girls at the end of Spring Break. We had high hopes that amounted to dashed potential. This being said, Franco’s performance and the raising of important issues still left me in a good humor when I left the theater. The opening credits were reminiscent of 2011’s Drive which really encouraged me to view it from a European perspective. The film felt like The 400 Blows meets Piranha at some points making Korine’s mainstream crossover a controversial one.