Some movies basically don’t have to spend a dime on marketing. All they need is a trailer, some shots from the movie and word of mouth does the rest. Spring Breakers is such a movie as the promotional material mostly features four fine looking young women in bikini. Two of them Disney-channel alumni even. Nothing like a former child-actress looking hot in a bikini and starring in an R-rated movie to receive publicity. Since the movie is explicitly gratuitous, my review will be the same.
Spring Breakers is about four college girls who go on Spring Break. Hence the title. Since they’re short on funds they rob a restaurant in one nicely shot sequence which we view from the perspective of the getaway driver. These girls all have a knack for wearing skimpy clothing and are very, very tight with each other. All except Faith (Selena Gomez) who’s religious, not a part of the robbery and has her doubts about going on Spring Break.
But they do go on Spring Break and have the time of their lives. Driving around on scooters, partying and such. All is fine until they’re at the wrong party at the wrong time. Suddenly cops burst in, find large amounts of illegal narcotics and the girls are taken into custody. This results in one of the funniest scenes in the movie: four girls in bikini standing in front of a judge. When they can’t pay their fine local underground rapper “Alien” pays for their bail, leaving them clueless as to why. They hook up with him and increasingly get involved in his shady dealings.
The best way I can describe the first half of Spring Breakers is simple: Boobs, butts, tits, drugs, ass, breasts, ice cream, belly shots, booties, boobies, guns, bosoms, buttocks, knockers, bums, hooters, nudity, fun bags, etc. And don’t you worry about this being some PG-stuff where everything is just insinuated and all the clothes stay on. The opening montage of Spring Breakers plays like a girls gone wild video. Within five minutes I had seen more bare breasts than there are in the average porno. The large amount of nudity together with the small amount of story reminded me of old sexploitation beach movies from the 50s where a beach setting was a mere excuse to have girls in bikini titillate the mostly male audience.
The movie shifts in tone when Alien is introduced. James Franco has the time of his life as a crazy rapper who’s also a small time drug dealer. Every aspect of him is incredibly annoying: his appearance, the slang he uses and the way he apparently is proud of all of his possessions even though he’s small time compared to old friend/now rival Archie (Gucci Mane). As annoying as he might be, Franco is magnetic in this role and outshines everybody. Especially the four female leads who come off as rather bland.
Despite the cheap subject of girls in bikinis hanging out with a gangster, director Harmony Korine adds a touch of art-house to project. The movie is drenched in over-saturated neon colors. It also features someone performing fellatio on a gun with a silencer, strange voice-overs like James Franco whispering “Spring Break forever” many times in a row and never explaining the reasoning behind the choices these girls make. Having no money is one thing, but robbing a restaurant is a clear case of “Boy, that escalated quickly”.
If you take away all the nudity all that is left is a pretty short and rather boring story. At some moments it’s clear Korine went to the “Larry Clark” school of film making. I can understand all the scenes of semi-nude teens partying. It’s justified to create the atmosphere of Spring Break. But occasionally the director includes unnecessary lengthy nude and sex scenes that serve no real purpose to the story. This isn’t a complaint, but these scenes do degrade the movie by making me ask myself: should I be masturbating? It’s sometimes that close to venturing into soft-porn.
It justifies talking about the four female leads as being nothing more than eye candy. That is their main function here. Their acting chops don’t seem to matter. They’re like a movie equivalent of the Spice Girls. People will probably not rate them by their performance, but by who they think is the hottest. I personally found the director’s wife(!), Rachel Korine, to be the most “interesting”. She has a curvy physique, the biggest boobs and is the only one to show actual nudity. The other three keep either their bikinis on are shown from behind. All of the other nudity is supplied by numerous anonymous girls. Some of them are probably no strangers to the porn industry.
If this movie was made 20-30 years ago it would have become one of those classic VHS movies of which certain parts became worn after a while. The scene with Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Erika Eleniak in Under Siege would have never become so legendary if it had Spring Breakers to compete with.
I don’t think Spring Breakers is a really good movie, it’s decent and entertaining but nothing more, though I do think it has the potential to become a cult movie. A movie about girls in bikinis shooting up an entire mansion of thugs before driving away in a Lamborghini will always appeal to the general male audience. It’s also a great excuse for guys to watch something with their girlfriends that isn’t porn, but will have them end up in the bed with their girlfriend afterwards.