'Spring Breakers' is one wild party

Rachel Korine (from left), Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens star in “Spring Breakers.”

Rachel Korine (from left), Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens star in “Spring Breakers.”

Movie Review

‘Spring Breakers’

Rated R for strong sexual content, violence, nudity, profanity and drug use throughout.

4 Stars

Brit, Faith, Candy and Cotty are best friends anxious to cut loose on their own spring break adventure, but they lack sufficient funds. After holding ...

Rating: R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout

Length: 94 minutes

Released: March 15, 2013 Limited

Cast: Selena Gomez, James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Heather Morris

Director: Harmony Korine

Writer: Harmony Korine

More info and showtimes »

“Spring Breakers” already is famous — notorious, even — as the movie that places former Disney tween princesses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens into (a) bright bikinis and (b) a deservedly R-rated party rampage of drugs, sex, machine guns, beer bongs and beachside booty bouncing.

Party-hearty moviegoers lured by this lurid promise may find the laughter choking in their throats like a death rattle and the blood curdling rather than rushing through their veins. This is MTV’s Spring Break as a prophecy of the end times, the American dream as a nightmare of self-involvement, exploitation and racial alienation.

If there’s a precedent, it may be “The Devil in Miss Jones“ (1973), the pornographic film that imagines hell as a place of eternal sex and no pleasure. What did you expect from radical grunge auteur Harmony Korine, whose previous movie as a writer-director was the accurately titled “Trash Humpers”?

Impressionistically edited, to fracture the chronology of events and give the material the dreamlike unreality of random memories, “Spring Breakers” is the story of four young college women determined to join their peers and have the time of their lives in Florida.

Three of the women (Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine, the director’s wife) are blondish and almost indistinguishable; the fourth, named — with jokey obviousness — Faith (Gomez), is a brunette, and a self-declared Christian.

We see them in class, before their spree, where a professor discusses civil rights and “the radicalized individual.” A photograph of Emmett Till is shown on a screen. If college students in the 1960s went South to support oppressed African-Americans, these girls will “radicalize” by committing an armed robbery to finance their spring break trip; their idea of black culture is personified in the form of a white “gangsta” rapper named Alien (James Franco), a devil figure with a metal grill and braided hair and “Scarface” on repeat in his crib. “I ain’t from this planet, y’all,” he raps, as if to acknowledge his hellish origin. “This lasts forever, y’all.” Yes, there is at least one shot of a serpent.

Intercut with the story of the girls are scenes of all-out public and private hedonism. Both Alien and his black drug-dealing rival (Gucci Mane) say they are living “the American dream”; is it any wonder the girls suck on red-white-and-blue Rocket Pops? The oral fixation suggests these women are as infantile as their figures are full.

When the girls are arrested during a wild party, Faith protests: “We were just having fun. We didn’t do anything wrong.” This is the claim of the bully, the “gay basher,” the sexual assailant. Looking out over the ocean, Alien tells his new acolytes: “The water looks real pretty, but the sharks are waitin’.” You might offer the same warning to the teenagers standing in line to see “Spring Breakers.”

© 2013 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.