Spring Breakers

Movie Review #655

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Studio: Muse Productions – O’ Salvation – Division Films – Annapurna Pictures – Iconoclast – RabbitBandini Productions – Radar Pictures
Distributor: A24
Country: USA
Spoken Languages: English

Directed by Harmony Kormine. Produced by Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Jordan Gertner, Chris Hanley, and David Zander. Written by Harmony Kormine.

Rated R by the MPAA – strong sexual content, profanity, nudity, frequent drug material, frequent violence. Runs 1 hour, 34 minutes. Premiered at Venice Film Festival on September 5, 2012. Limited release in the USA on March 15, 2013. Wide release in the USA on March 22, 2013.

Starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and Gucci Mane. Also starring Heather Morris, Ashley Lendzion, and Emma Jane Holzer.

Cinemaniac Reviews three stars

Selena Gomez.  Vanessa Hudgens.  James Franco.  These three make up the bulk of the main cast, and they were all on the Disney Channel.  Which many of you probably knew, anyhow; I’m just throwing it out there to begin with, because you’d never think these people knew what “wholesome” meant.  Part of the movie’s irresistible nature, in fact, comes from how hard R [SEE FOOTNOTE] it is–“hard R” being a film rating, but moreover an attitude of style.  The movie is filled with full-frontal nudity, profanity, drug use, and all around partying.  Add in some dubstep, which is the score.  Now the cinematography, which switches liberally between the hallucinogenic, the VHS-ish, the Hollywood.  Don’t forget the clever script, the enthused acting.

With all that in the mix, what we have here is a party, in and of itself.

“Spring Breakers” is a precursor to this August’s “The Bling Ring”, except this one tells a much heavier moral tale.  The movie is a sly blend of egalitarian drama and tragicomedy, where Selena Gomez plays a Christian college girl perfectly.  She’s been warned about sin all her life, but as it’s surrounded her forever, she’s also become desensitized.  So when her sorority friends team up and rob a few gullible folks to pay for a spring break, she doesn’t feel guilty, ’cause she ain’t the one who stole somethin’.  She’s constantly keeping her worried relatives posted about the vacation, and she’s having guiltless fun meanwhile.  After all, she’s just watching people drink and snort cocaine; she hasn’t done so herself.

Lo and behold, the cops find out about the illegal acts her friends took part in.  Gomez is guilty by association.  She goes to court, then gaol, clad in a bikini alongside her three friends.  They’re bailed out by a gangsta, the role into which James Franco transforms himself.  Where her trip in California was once Heaven, it’s now Hell.  Now that she’s out, she’s dying to get back home.

“Spring Breakers” never once loses its fun.  Even ending on a huge minor chord, the movie feels exhilarating every step of the way.  My single, true complaint is that the “Material Girl” story falls apart after an hour of film time.  The script loses focus of its main character (Gomez) and tries a bit roughly to give its other antiheroes morality, at this point.

Still, we’re left with a message, and if the movie manages to pull that off for its time, and to entertain the whole way through, I wouldn’t shrug it off so quickly.

FOOTNOTE: The MPAA rates this R “for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout.” Indeed these guys did stuff for Disney, but if you’re interested in a Disney experience, I advise you to steer clear of “Spring Breakers”. The nudity, for example, is so frequent and graphic, it might be worse than the a stereotypically risqué foreign film.

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