Saturday, March 23, 2013

Single Dad's Movie Review: Spring Breakers

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Film Noir comes to Spring Break. Well, almost.

Anyone who has a teenage daughter will likely hear the question this weekend, “Can I see Spring Breakers?”
Why not? The cast includes a virtual Who’s Who of Walt Disney Studios actors: Selena Gomez (The Wizards of Waverly Place), Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars), and Rachel Korine, whose brother, Harmony, wrote and directed the film. However, a fun frolic on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale this is not.
Faith (Gomez), Candy, (Hudgens), Brit (Benson), and Cotty (Korine) have a problem: it’s spring break at their northern university and they don’t have the funds to escape. All but Faith, who is apparently too busy attending a church youth group, resolve to rob the patrons at a local restaurant using water guns and a hammer. Flush with cash, the girls start to discover “who they really are” once they arrive on the sunny beaches of South Florida.
The revelry takes a harsh detour when the girls are arrested at a party where cocaine is snorted from the beer soaked breasts of many of the participants. Certainly for impact on the target audience, the girls remain in their bikinis while having a sleepover in an otherwise private cell. When sentenced to a fine or two days in jail, not one even considers contacting a parent for the money. However, Alien, an aspiring gangbanger and drug dealer played by James Franco, shows up and pays their fine. ostensibly to garner favors from the foursome.
Franco, by the way, is on the verge of becoming the Kevin Bacon of his generation of actors; eventually everyone will know someone who's been in a film with James Franco. Unlike Kevin Bacon, however, Franco never quite seems to have the chops to make his character credible.
Writer/director Korine attempts to create an art house effect using the overplayed style of filming quick candid camera shots of free styling actors and brief contrasts to out-of-context scenes, in this case featuring topless girls being fed beer bongs from riotous beach boys. If the technique wasn’t overused before Spring Breakers, it certainly was by the time the final credits rolled.
At times, Spring Breakers appears to be on the verge of making a salient point, but repeatedly and unrealistically fails. After finding themselves with Alien in a gang hangout among some clearly hardened characters, the four pretty little white girls who are still wearing their bikinis are simply allowed to leave. In comparison to the 2005 film Havoc, for example, when the characters played by Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips find themselves in a similar circumstance, one of the girls, well, isn't.
While Spring Breakers could have made an important commentary about any number of topics, from drug use to the immediate gratification generation to our throw-away society, Spring Breakers simply doesn’t. Characters dangle, only partially developed and resolved. Ideas are started, but like a child diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, not one is finished.
A film without a point is a film without a soul, and no amount of jiggling breasts or extraneous vulgarity can give it one. If there was a moral to the Spring Breakers, and I simply don’t think Harmony Korine had any idea that he was creating one, that moral would be that there is little or no consequence for an action. In the real world, that simply isn’t the case.

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