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SPRING BREAKERS tells of college freshmen Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez), best friends since grade school who are hungry for adventure. They rob a restaurant to finance a spring break trip to Florida where they encounter a drug dealing rapper named “Alien” (James Franco) who provides the girls with all the thrill and excitement they could hope for and a week they will never forget.

Of course, that’s not really what SPRING BREAKERS is about. The appeal is the sexual chaos of nihilistic teens with wasted minds and teeny bikinis and what the movie is really about is the perverse enticement of watching Disney TV princesses, the stars of Wizards of Waverly Place, Pretty Little Liars, and High School Musical, looking slutty while dancing, drugging, firing automatic weapons, and making out in skimpy outfits for 90 minutes. Three of these young actresses were clearly were looking for a project to shed their wholesome image and with SPRING BREAKERS, they’ve achieved that goal all too well (the fourth, Rachel Korine is the director’s wife and has no such clean-cut presence to shed). Their established fan base won’t be seeing this R-rated film and it’s a bit startling to see them behave this way, but that’s the film’s gimmick, and once the viewer has taken the bait and wiped the drool off of his chin, the question is – is the movie any good?

The answer is yes, this Girls Gone Wild meets SUGAR AND SPICE is a funny, violent, neon-colorful thrill ride. With SPRING BREAKERS, Director Harmony Korine presents the bacchanalian excess of what we all dreamed our high school Spring break would be and what we fear our kids Spring break will be. Korine is indie cinema’s reigning bad-boy auteur-mogul, and though SPRING BREAKERS is as close to a coherent, mainstream work as he has created, it’s still as impressionistic and satirical as his 1997 white trash masterpiece GUMMO. Korine wrote KIDS 20 years ago and his desire to shock hasn’t lessened. In SPRING BREAKERS Korine repeats dialog and entire scenes, weaves in a variety of film stocks, flips time, and pads his film with endless shots of young girls thrusting their pelvises and lifting their tops. It’s a twisted drug-warped fairytale I hope is not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s loaded with vulgarity and is brutally honest in its depiction of young girls who don’t care about anything except having a good time. SPRING BREAKERS contains scene after scene of teens drinking, stripping, doing drugs, shooting guns, and having sex. It embraces carnal binging and doesn’t shy away from profanity and hedonism. All four actresses are good in their roles but the film’s guiding spirit is James Franco as Alien. All cornrow braids and gold grill, Franco maintains his singular genius by updating Gary Oldman’s Drexl Spivey character from TRUE ROMANCE, perfectly balancing danger and mischief. Franco is gonzo brilliant and it’s just bizarre seeing him in this the same week I saw him as Oz. A lot of modern teenage films are similar (PROJECT X, 21 AND OVER), but come off being forced and staged. SPRING BREAKERS does not. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger, and badder, until it wipes out everything and leaves a bullet-strewn path of destruction in its wake. In other words, SPRING BREAKERS is a must see.

4 1/2 of 5 Stars

SPRING BREAKERS opens in St. Louis Friday, March 22nd at (among other places) Landmark’s Tivoli Theater




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