Spring Breakers (2012)
Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is both a crime film and a crime against film. The critical adoration for it puzzles me, for the indie is about as deep as the puddle of urine its largely vapid quartet squats to make on the pavement in broad daylight.
Four girlfriends are anxious to flee college for Florida for spring break, but don’t have enough cash between them for even one night’s stay (yet somehow, they are consistently able to afford cocaine). Problem solved: Rob a diner using squirt guns and sledgehammers, and it’s par-tay time! The young ladies then imbibe and engage in all sorts of 24/7 debauchery — always in their color-coordinated bikinis, presumably hand-picked to match Korine’s Sour Skittles palette — until cops bust up the fun. They’re bailed out of jail by Alien (James Franco, Oz the Great and Powerful), a white, cornrowed rapper/dealer with a fox’s sly smile … if foxes sported enough gangsta grills to nauseate four out of five dentists.
The skeevy Alien leads the ladies further down a slippery slope, headfirst into his trumped-up fantasy world of loaded machine guns and hot-tub threesomes and (I assume) vicious STDs. Halfway through, the God-fearing good girl named, of course, Faith (Selena Gomez, former Disney Channel princess of Wizards of Waverly Place) decides she’s had enough and flees. Viewers may pray they could go with her.
It’s not that I find Spring Breakers‘ content offensive — a recurring theme involves pornographically sucking everything from Rainbow Popsicles to gun barrels — but what I do find offensive is how empty that content is. It serves nothing but itself. Flirting with the mainstream, provocateur Korine (Gummo) is not framing his flimsy story as a morality tale; his leering camera is too busy focusing on the crotches of women whose faces are cropped purposely out-of-frame, reducing them to mere holes.
Franco’s on another level than the female cast (Gomez, Ashley Benson of TV’s Pretty Little Liars, Sucker Punch-er Vanessa Hudgens and Korine’s wife, Rachel), but his performance is hardly a saving grace when the movie revels in maddening repetition. One such instance is the oft-voiced rallying cry of “Spring break forever, bitches! Spring break forever!” The trip certainly feels endless. —Rod Lott