One imagines most people were interested in Spring Breakers to see if Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens’ edgy Harmony Korine movie would be a disaster. Well, to tell you the truth, it kind of both satisfies that train-wreck curiosity, as well as being a legitimately entertaining (and outrageous) movie.
A trio of college "mean girls" get their Catholic friend Faith (Selena Gomez) to help them finance a spring break trip to Florida. They still don’t have enough combined money, so the trio robs a diner with their squirt guns. Faith feels conflicts about it but goes to Florida anyway, where the quartet engage in college debauchery. Things get more serious when a real gangster, Alien (James Franco), bails them out of jail and takes them into the grown-up party of a gangsta’s lifestyle.
This is the story of a party that lasts too long. Sure, it’s fun to spend a week living in debauchery, but when you stay past spring break, you start to see real grown-up men treating women the same way and that’s not cute. I mean, it’s not really okay that 20-year-old guys are sexually taunting women, but it’s really not okay when 30-, 40-something drug dealers do it to college girls. These gangs are the real industry that fund the drug-fueled parties the tourists have, and that’s no fun. But the girls experience it in a surreal way, and that gives the audience a visceral thrill from a safe distance.
As such, the whole movie feels like one long party. There’s a plot in there, but the experience is an extended montage of images crazy enough that you can’t believe what you’re seeing and you can’t wait to see what happens next. From the beginning, Korinne is fetishizing the bodies of his cast, their little bikini butts and their jiggling dancing/handstanding in the halls of their dorm or their Florida motel. His camera sinks underwater to look at the bikini region when he can hear nothing above the water. Party footage is like MTV’s Spring Break coverage, only with nudity. I don’t know what beach in Florida lets topless women run rampant, but it exists in this movie.
Hudgens smokes a bong, squirts liquor in her mouth from a squirt gun and mimes fellatio. Gomez even takes a hit off the bong. By the time they hook up with Alien they’re having orgies and getting in gunfights. It's a lot of bad behavior that’s fun to watch, but the connection they form with Alien is real. It’s totally wrong. They should all do better and continue their education, but for now they’re perfect for each other.
Franco is glorious. Alien is like a K-fed wannabe who’s actually done well. He’s got grills in his teeth, tats, cornrows and a collection of Scarface guns. He seems like the bad influence but he’s actually the most harmless, sincere and loving character in the movie. Okay, that’s really sad, but that’s the through-the-looking-glass world in which this movie lives.
These girls are a terror but there’s never an unhealthy implication that they’re role models. I don’t think the worry should be kids seeing this movie. Don’t let any parents see this. They’d never let their kids go to college and have healthy formative independent experiences. For me, while I enjoyed the sights, Spring Breakers just made me glad I get to sleep in a bed and use a clean toilet. These pretty, rambunctious kids are fun to watch but also kind of gross.