When Spring Breakers came out last spring, it was instantly controversial. It was too outrageous for sincere fans of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, and it was too sleazy for art house critics. Overall it seemed to have divided households, started civil wars and just ruined our economy… oh wait. It did none of these things, but it did appear on a lot of best of 2013 and worst of 2013 lists, the ultimate gage on just how controversial this movie was to critics and fans. So naturally I was intrigued by a movie I would normally just ignore. (I am not a huge fan of Harmony Korine and I actively hate any pop star celebrities) I was not prepared for what I would find.
Four friends want to make it in time for a rollicking Spring Break in St. Petersburg Florida, but they have no funds. They decide to don neon color ski masks and raid a diner in order to fund their debauchery. They make it to St. Petersburg and realize that it was everything they dreamed it was. Booze, drugs, boys, small bikinis, and montages of scooter rides abound. All the fun comes to a crashing halt once they eventually get busted (in their neon bikinis no doubt) with drugs on them. They cannot afford bail, but a wigger rapper who doubles as a drug dealer named Alien bails them out in order to have fun with them. One by one the girls either slip into the sleazy underworld Alien exists in or goes home on a bus never to come back into the story again. They steal from tourists, kill a few innocents, and sing along to a piano driven cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime.’
This movie felt like a dreamy, hazy movie long montage of debauchery and nothing else. There is little substance here, and very low stakes. But this seems to not worry the director, Harmony Korine, much. He seems content with editing together yet another sequence of Selena Gomez drinking in a neon bikini surrounded by like-minded individuals. Nothing felt earned or based in a movie reality. The girls can literally get away with murder. This is the textbook example of a mood piece. In order to achieve this, Korine employs a technique I am seeing everywhere in new independent movies (Sleeping Beauty was very guilty of this). He gives the camera a fluid flow that swoops in on a character not really doing much. He softens the edges of the frame and layers on a light jazz piano piece. This gives the impression of everything having a dream like quality, but doesn’t reveal anything about a character or their motivation. In fact he uses this technique so much in this movie, we should dub it the Korine effect. It is overkill. It seems like Korine didn’t want to make a movie at all, just a movie length commercial for neon bikinis. This effect gives no weight to the debauchery around them and numbs us to everything on the screen. No doubt Korine wanted to provoke and scandalize a reaction at every turn, but it fails to make a real impression on me. To sum up: this is a disappointment. I do not see how this movie could have made any best/worst movies of 2013 lists. There was nothing here to care about. I instantly forgot it the moment it was over. Maybe I should stop listening to critics who praise the most over-wrought dreck.