When he was 18, Harmony Korine wrote a screenplay about irresponsible, sexually accessible girls who become involved with a violent scumbag and ruin their lives. Few people cared about Kids, except for some critics who found it shocking and raw.
He continued to explore the lower depths of society with ever-decreasing public awareness, through movies such as Mister Lonely and Trash Humpers. But after 20 years, he got smart: He wrote another screenplay about irresponsible, sexually accessible girls who become involved with a violent scumbag and ruin their lives, and he cast sweethearts made famous by Walt Disney Corp.
Voila! Spring Breakers, a movie everyone will talk about until they realize how empty and clumsy it is.
Look! Theres Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical, writhing carnally in a pool with Ashley Benson of Pretty Little Liars! Look! Theres Selena Gomez of Wizards of Waverly Place, wiggling her booty and smoking pot!
Dont look! Theres a nonsensical plot that ends in an absurd fantasy. Dont listen, either, or the flat, repetitive speeches will kill brain cells. Theyre delivered in monotones by all four actresses, including Rachel Korine as the other member of the quartet. (Shes five or six years older than the others and a marginally less good actress, but shes also Korines wife.)
The four indistinguishable college students, stifled by suburbia, talk about finding ourselves at spring break. They steal money from a restaurant to get to St. Petersburg, Fla., where they begin living our dreams by snorting cocaine, sucking on beer bongs and staggering to the side of a road, where they flip the bird to drivers going by.
Eventually, they end up in the county jail. A slimy drug dealer with dreadlocks, silver-crowned teeth, more tattoos than a circus freak and the reasonable nickname of Alien bails them out so he can have sex with them. One goes home, while the others go gangsta and become expert shots without ever learning how to aim a gun.
The film has two assets. The first is the performance of James Franco as Alien, a part he understands and embodies far more convincingly than the smiling Wizard of Oz. When hes not around, the movie sags like a mattress in a rent-by-the-hour motel.
The other is the cinematography of Benoit Debie. Hes a clever choice: He specializes in films that are lurid, hallucinatory, violent or scary, including Gaspar Noés Irreversible and Enter the Void. No matter how droning Korines dialogue may be, no matter how static and clunky Korines direction remains, Debie enlivens the film with angles, colors and effects that mitigate boredom.
If youre still reading this review, I assume its because you want to know whether youll see the starlets naked. Ill save some of you the ticket price by providing a scorecard. Hudgens partially, briefly. Benson, partially, about the same length of time. Gomez no.
Many other women strip for the camera, including Rachel Korine. Why Harmony Korine asked his wife to drop trou for this film or she accepted I have no idea. Perhaps they thought they were making a profound comment about social stagnation or disaffected youth. Instead, they give us a kind of American Idiot in which the main characters simply remain idiots.
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