Monday, April 1, 2013


As surrealistic and subversive as Harmony Korine's dark comedy Spring Breakers can be at times, it's not so much as a provocation but an explosion of candy colored hedonism. It follows four college girls who really, really, realllllly want to go to Miami for spring break. Unfortunately they're broke. No matter, armed with nothing but liquor filled squirt guns and the creed  "pretend it's a videogame," they rob a restaurant.

Flush with funds, the girls (played by clean cut Disney-esque starlets Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) make their way to Miami and have what might be one of the best times ever had in the history of cinema: they drive scooters to massive beach parties, drink, swim, smoke weed, shop, let well-oiled men snort cocaine off their nethers and dance in hotel rooms overfilling with bubble bath. Ke$ha would be proud of these girls. But eventually the party stops and the girls are arrested, only to be bailed out by the films most interesting character, a silver grilled wigger drug dealer/DJ named Alien (James Fanco). The girls don't know him, and wonder why in the world he'd want to help them as he whisks them into his car.

Later, at his pad, Alien shows off the numerous spoils of his thug life, which notably include "Scarface on repeat," and "shorts in every color!" Later the girls turn the tables on him and, at gunpoint, demand that Alien show off his sensitive side, leading to a spirited Britney Spears rendition while the girls dance like ballerinas with their matching pink ski masks and assault rifles.

For all it's surrealistic imagery and cheeky, if slightly outdated, jabs at the superficiality of youth culture, the film isn't interested in saying too much about it, apart form a few moments where the girls tell their parents, with complete earnestness, that all their activities constitute a divine spiritual experience. Stylistically, the film is a colorful update of all those 50's moral panic exploitation movies, only instead of biker gangs eroding our society, it's spring break. Like those films, Korine often tries to play it both ways as to whether he's approving or condemning all the debauchery on display.  Unlike those films, Korine paints everything in psychedelic, day-glo hues that make the movie feel like Russ Myer's Blade Runner.

I was probably too sober to enjoy Spring Breakers fully. The use of lighting, music and editing try their best to replicate the feeling of a drug trip. Sometimes it's very effective, sometimes it feels like Korine want's his audience to meet him half way. Not that I condone it, but if one were to see this movie under the influence, I imagine they'd have an amazing time and miss nothing. The plot is fairly minimal, as it should be, and the points that do exist are repeated often enough via non-linear editing. It's an art film for pot heads. Korine doesn't have quite enough Hunter S. Thompson in him to pull that off completely, but it's still an admirable effort.

Grade: B+

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