Film Review: Spring Breakers

That lame, unimaginative title is pretty representative of this commercial wannabe that still suffers from the art-house pretensions and severe limitations of its auteur.

Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine’s closest attempt so far to make a so-called mainstream film, features some heretofore squeaky-clean actresses in in a wild and wooly update of Where the Boys Are, partying hard during their college vacation. Former Disney Channel teen stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens respectively play Faith and Candy, who are joined by Cotty (Rachel Korine, yes, the wife) and Brit (Ashley Benson), their friends since childhood. Faith is an upright Christian, while the other three are, to put it bluntly, unregenerate skank ho’s and totally interchangeable blondes, alternately whiny and sexually teasing with all the subtlety of a jackhammer.

The problem is they have no money, so the three sluts steal a car, rob a fast-food outlet and, with a somewhat reluctant Faith, head down to Florida to join the testosterone-fueled mayhem. There, they immediately run into trouble and encounter Alien (James Franco), the ultimate drug-dealing hustler, who bails them out of jail and proceeds to act as their mentor, little realizing that he is no match for their nymphet shenanigans.

With a throbbing, get-this-fiesta-started music soundtrack and splashy, often surrealistically tinged cinematography, this should have been a lot more fun than it is. Instead, it’s cadaverously thin, content-wise, and suffers from the basic numbing repetitiveness that is as sure a mark of Korine’s hand as MacGuffins were the province of Hitchcock. One’s enjoyment of the film will largely depend on your tolerance for Franco here, who, corn-rowed, tatted and sporting a flamboyant grill, hams outrageously, reveling in this lowlife turn. He works hard, proudly showing off his atrociously accoutered crib, flashing cash, bling and guns and even, at one point, fellating a pistol wielded by those naughty, naughty girls (who also like sucking on popsicles) But for all his considerable performance sweat, Franco basically is like another Matthew McConaughey at his most over-the-top (and, particularly after Magic Mike, do we really need another one?).

“Spring break…spring break forever!” Franco keeps intoning—Korine’s futile attempt at the elegiac—over endless montages of stoned, anonymous co-eds baring their breasts and being soaked in beer, at one point by a row of guys holding the cans over them as if they were penises. To call the film misogynistic would be like describing the Taliban as grumpy: It’s a jerk-off fantasy for horny yet contemptuous aesthetes and, I imagine, will generate some Maxim magazine-type interest in Gomez’s and Hudgens’ vanilla-bland careers. The more discerning among us, after enduring this witless farrago devoid of a single real human emotion and yet somehow scarily, snarkily representative of a generation, may simply want to weep for the future.