Sunday, March 24, 2013

Not Exactly The Spring Break We Were Expecting: Our Review of "Spring Breakers" (2013)

Directed By: Harmony Korine (Kids

Starring: James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine

Rating: R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout

Run Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Synopsis: Four friends desperately want to go to Spring Break in Florida, so they rob a restaurant to fund their trip and head on down. After getting arrested along with a couple of guys for drugs they catch the eye of a local dealer/rapper named Alien (Franco), who bails them out and tries to seduce them with the seedier side of Spring Break, giving the girls more than they originally bargained for.


Sarah: Hello readers! Andrew and I caught an early evening viewing of one of this weekend's four wide releases, Spring Breakers, starring Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and James Franco. A story about four college girls who want to go to Spring Break but can't afford it so they rob a restaurant and then head down to St. Petersburg, Florida where they get into your typical Spring Break shenanigans...and some not so typical shenanigans. After getting arrested for drugs they're bailed out by a drug dealer named Alien who proceeds to show them a bit more of the darker side of Spring Break. 

We had been hearing a lot of things about this one, both good and bad. The director, Harmony Korine, has come out and said, "You know what? I don't care if you like it or not!" He's very outspoken and so this was kind of a "see it for yourself" film. So now that we've seen Spring Breakers, Andrew, what did you think?

Andrew: To be quite honest the best way I can put it is...I didn't like it, but I didn't not like it either. When all is said and done I'm kind of indifferent to the movie as a whole. There were things about it that I enjoyed and/or thought were really well done, but on the whole, I wasn't super impressed when the credits rolled. I want to hear your first impressions before I delve into specifics.

S: I looked at it as a super-pretentious culture film. That's what I got from it. It's a culture film where there's not a ton of dialogue necessarily; there are a lot of the same shots shown over and over again, or these artsy kinds of shots to try and hammer home the themes the director was trying for. The shots of Spring Break and of Florida were, in my eyes, supposed to show the deterioration of our youth and things like that. That's kind of what I got out of it.

Like you, there were things that I liked about it and there were things that I thought were just...just stupid. That were just ridiculous and plainly stupid.

A: What exactly did you think was ridiculous?

S: Like how four girls can be stupid enough to go off with some guy they've never met before. And I understand that their characters are kind of crazy to begin with, but come on. I don't know, I guess there are stupid people like that out there...

In a turning point in the film, after getting arrested during Spring Break, James Franco's eccentric
drug dealer/rapper named Alien bails the girls out of jail.

A: Well I think one of the things I liked about the movie is that this foursome, these four girls, while they're friends they also did have some differences. So something I liked was that a lot of the first half of the movie focuses on Selena Gomez's character, Faith, whom they very clearly get the point across of her being Christian. 

Faith was the only girl who didn't partake in the actual robbery, but she willfully goes down to Florida with them and indulges in all that. But when the proverbial crap hits the fan and Franco's Alien bails them out of jail, you konw, she's the one that doesn't feel comfortable about the situation and doesn't like where things are heading so she goes home.

S: And then we never see her again.

A: Exactly. And then the movie changes gears. So that was something I liked, but to quickly go back to your point about them being stupid about joining Alien, at least Gomez's character reacted in a normal fashion and bailed. And speaking of Gomez, I thought she did a fantastic job.

S: I did, too! Something I did not like was the beginning of the movie. I thought the beginning was painfully slow, uncomfortably so. And the repetition! I absolutely hated the repetition of phrases and imagery, these same sound bites over and over again along with these same shots we keep being shown. I was like, "Oh my God, okay! We get it! It was made clear the first time!" So that really bothered me.

But here's what I really want to talk about - and I've made it clear here before that I'm not a big fan of his - but I loved James Franco's character!

A: That's the thing that I was waiting to hear! That's the crux of this whole review and why we even went to see this movie.

S: Because we had heard really good things about Franco and I don't really like him, I think he's a bit of a douchebag, but he...was...awesome in this movie. It was right up his alley! He did a great job and was extremely believable.

A: Which is saying something because his character is batsh*t crazy.

S: Oh TOTALLY batsh*t crazy! He has dreadlocks and grills on his teeth and this weird way that he talks, like he pronounces "Alien" like "aleen" and he sings Britney Spears! He was amazing. The best part of the movie by far.

Seriously, James Franco is almost unrecognizable as Alien, what with his cornrows, grills and overall
weird mannerisms. And apparently Alien is based on a couple of actual guys named Dangeruss and Riff Raff.

I did not care for Vanessa Hudgens here. I didn't think she brought  much to the movie.

A: Honestly, outside of Gomez, I didn't feel like any of the other girls...they weren't so much interchangeable...

S: No, interchangeable is a good word.

A: They just didn't bring much to the rest of the film. And honestly, we're recording this review just a couple hours after having seen the movie, and I can't remember any of the girls' characters' names except for Gomez's. 

S: And once Gomez left the movie shifted to Franco as the main focus, which I liked. I felt like that was an interesting decision, and maybe that's a knock on the film that I so could not have cared less about the other girl characters that I was glad they focused on Alien, but oh well.

I get it, I understood the premise of the movie and it's purpose...

A: You did? See, because I didn't. That's my biggest knock on the movie - when all was said and done, I didn't get what the entire point was. There's a story that Korine is trying to tell but I'm not quite sure what it is.

S: Well I guess the part that I get is the whole Spring Break part and the focus on Gomez's character, but once it switched to the stuff with Franco I guess I didn't quite understand why it went there, either.

A: To be fair the focus isn't just on Franco's Alien, but it's on Hudgens and Benson's characters becoming infatuated with him and his lifestyle. I mean it kind of goes back and forth between Alien and the girls, but really I felt like the movie was all over the place.

And it wasn't very linear, either, which was both good and bad in my book. I didn't mind that they would do a jump-cut to a shot from later in the film really briefly and then kind of Tarantino it a bit, though Korine's insistence on showing earlier shots over and over again got annoying, like you've said. Overall...I don't know. And the ending!

S: Yes! Thank you! I was like, "What???"

A: Of everything in the movie, the end is pretty unbelievable to me.

S: So unbelievable. SO unbelievable. And just ridiculous. You can't help but go, "Come on..."

A: We don't want to say exactly what happens in the film's climax, but...

S: It was supposed to be bad-ass and it just wasn't. It was embarrassing.

A: I do want to say this about the movie though, because I know there are probably plenty of people who are curious about this aspect of it - the movie is very raunchy and vulgar, but most of the Spring Break debauchery, while it's certainly in there and in bunches, a lot of it is gotten out of the way at the very start of the movie.

S: All the raunchiness?

A: Well like the nudity and drinking and stuff, the movie literally opens showing that stuff for the first two minutes or so and then it disappears for a solid half-hour until the four girls finally get down to Florida. But again, Korine kind of just shows the same stuff over and over again.

S: True. And I want to say that I read somewhere that Korine actually filmed real Spring Breakers somewhere for some of that footage, or at least like that one overhead shot where there's a pool just full of college students. So I kind of like that idea that he used real footage for some of that.

A: Before we wrap this up, I'm curious as to what you thought Hudgens and Gomez's decision to be in this movie and kind of starting to shed their Disney Channel images?

S: Well Vanessa Hudgens has already shed her Disney persona, but Selena Gomez, I applaud her! I think so far so good, with her not turning into a crazy person. I think she gets it. I think she understands that the Disney machine is just that and is a springboard but that you have to make it on your own after Disney. I think Vanessa Hudgens and Miley Cyrus have kind of missed the mark there, but it seems like Gomez is doing okay so far.

A: Well this role, for Gomez, reminded me a lot of when Anne Hathaway she her Princess Diaries persona by doing that Havoc movie. Now granted Hathaway had nude scenes and stuff like that where it was like, "Oh wow, she's really trying to show that she's not a Disney princess anymore." Gomez didn't really have that per se, but the drugs and language and stuff like that still makes a statement. So I found it an interesting career choice, obviously a calculated career move...

Other than Franco, the only other interesting thing to us in Spring Breakers is the participation of
former Disney Channel stars Vanessa Hudgens (middle left) and Selena Gomez (right).

S: Oh definitely.

A: I hope that it works out for her and I think it will. But I just found it interesting that they would do a movie like this, at least for Gomez because she's still pretty young.

S: I think she's 20 or maybe turning 21 soon.

A: Hathaway was slightly older than that when she did Havoc and Brokeback Mountain...

S: Well and she was like 18 or 19 when she did The Princess Diaries, whereas Gomez was like 15 when she started doing Wizards of Waverly Place.

A: Exactly. I just think Gomez will probably lose some fans over this but over the long run this is the best thing for her career.

S: And a fair number of her fans from Wizards of Waverly Place will not be allowed to go see this without an adult...

A: But think of the parents who will hear about what this movie is like and then might not want their kids to look up to her anymore.

S: I read an interview with Hudgens and Gomez recently and they were asked about their Disney careers, and Hudgens seemed to really resent the Disney machine in her answers and Gomez didn't. She was very grateful to Disney and understands what they do and acknowledged the different paths different actors and actresses have taken and realizes the dangers. So it was interesting to me and shows a maturity that she has that Hudgens maybe doesn't have? The interview just made me think that Gomez is more likely to head down the path Hathaway took to where she's a respected, Oscar-winning actress now, instead of becoming the next Lindsey Lohan.

A: That maturity you just mentioned is something I think Gomez did a good job portraying in Spring Breakers. I felt she did a good job balancing her character's maturity and immaturity at the same time. Regardless, I was just curious what you felt about that. Sorry for the digression, readers!

So overall...?

S: I don't think you need to see Spring Breakers in theatres. I'm not even sure you need to see this one at all unless you're just dying to see it or you're a big James Franco fan. In a way it's more artsy than anything else.

A: It's definitely artsy. It looks great, I really enjoyed the score that was done by Skrillex and Cliff Martinez, so again there are things that I liked about it. But it's definitely artsy. I might say that it's worth checking out once it's on home-video, but probably don't waste your time seeing it in theatres.

FINAL VERDICT: Netflix it!

(Individual Scores - S: 2.5/5  A: 2.5/5)

Photo Courtesies: ColliderNew York Daily NewsColliderTHR


  1. On this article. You guys sound like 13 year old(s) part-taking in some new found pop-culture "hate" game attempting to sound reasonable. In the movie room I sat in--which was full, people REALLY enjoyed themselves. The movie even got an applause at the end. While MOST-if-not-ALL movies have flaws which we can point fingers at, we must not be so darn robotic and rigid. Yes, the end was eh, and what the girls said to their moms when they called them from spring break was a bit unreal. HOWEVER, Harmony made it clear that the three wild ones were NOT your typical "Spring Breakers." You guys stand on your own ground--which is praise-worthy, but this movie is too big for you two, and you stand in deep water. While James SHOULD win awards come next award season for his role in SB (considering all the noms and winners this past season), all four girls fulfilled their roles to the T. All the booty and such? That's exactly what happens on SB, and the additional "gangsta" booty (which must include Vanessa and Ashley for James)is also what "gangsta's" do. So many movies have "annoying" flaws, even those which win awards, but, the entire Production, as in Spring Breakers, is OUTSTANDING. ARTSY. Exactly!!! This means EVERY college student who loves to party and go on spring break, and every English major, and every film student, and every play and musical part-taker, should--MUST go see it. Spring Breakers is a 9/10 or 4.5 stars.

    Redundancy, many times, can be, and for Spring Breakers it was, creatively pleasing. You see, this was an "artsy" movie you said. Well, that happens all the time with art because its REAL:we repeat things in life. We think of so many same things over and over again. Its how the mind works. Harmony nailed it! He was superb! LOL! Please bash--as you did here for Spring Breakers, the amazing music for Star Wars (thank you John Williams) and Les Miserables! No, you wont. Why? ITS PO CULTURE. I shouldn't have to explain further. As I said, it's done SO MUCH in art, including music in MANY amazing movies, songs, paintings, plays, musicals, etc., etc., etc. You guys get a D+, and that's being nice.

    1. Sorry that you're not a fan of the unique way that we do our movie reviews. If it weren't for the fact that we were basically indifferent to the totality of Spring Breakers, we'd say this is the kind of movie that splits people into love it or hate it. We don't doubt that the crowd you saw it with loved it. The crowd we saw it with - which was about ten other people and three of them walked out halfway through - just kind of got up and left without saying a word when the credits rolled. To each their own.

      We appreciated your praise about us standing on our own grounds, but we do take slight offense that you think this movie is too deep for us. This isn't our first rodeo. We readily admit that Korine did some pretty good things, but he also did things that rubbed us the wrong way. No harm in that, it's just our opinion. You say, "EVERY college student who loves to party and go on spring break, and every English major, and every film student, and every play and musical part-taker, should--MUST go see it." That's your opinion and we respect it. Ours is the opposite of it.

      You make a solid point about repeating themes, whether it's a recurring musical theme or a visual theme (like Tarantino showing blood on white in Django Unchained), but there comes a point where repeating the phrase "Spring Break.....Spring Break Forever" gets annoying. Was it satire? Possibly, in which case kudos to Korine and I'm glad he got a laugh out of it. We didn't, and there's no harm in that.

  2. Selena Butt Kissers trying to pass themselves off as critics? Pretty funny. Lets see know Vanessa has Frozen Ground (Nick Cage, John Cusak) and Gimme Shelter (James Earl Jones, Brendan Frazier, Rosario Dawson) coming out - did critically praised Bandslam, the misunderstood but fascinating Sucker Punch - who is going down the Hathaway path? Selena? Well she better get going cause Hudgens is already cruising along. Further Vanessa has always said she was grateful to Disney and just in an article published a few days ago reiterated that. Can you guys read? Finally sorry but Selena's role was the easiest because she played the "good" girl and image she already is a pro at. And finally in a display of ignorance that borders on dazzling you mention Vanessa (with an actual acting resume ) and Miley in the same sentence. I'm going to tell you what moms all over he world tell lazy, careless children who can't be bothered doing any research or checking their fact "If you can't do it right don't bother" I don't care if you like Selena to the point you look stupid just don't print it.

    1. Not sure where we come off as kissing Selena Gomez's butt, all we did was praise what we found to be a mature acting performance.

      In regards to Hudgens' filmography, Sucker Punch was a mess though most of that goes on Snyder, and this is coming from Snyder fans. But we are interested in her upcoming slate to see what she brings to the table.

      As for the interviews, it's as simple as we talked about the interview Sarah read. You've read other interviews that contradict what we talked about and that's fine. We haven't read those interviews.

      Selena's role is arguably the hardest one to pull off of the four girls because she has to play it relatively straight compared to the others. Her scene with Alien was top-notch by both performers.

      And lastly, we mention Vanessa, Selena, Miley Cyrus, Anne Hathaway and Lindsey Lohan all in the same breath because they all got famous in Disney productions, and generally speaking as child stars. We posed the question of which path with Hudgens and Gomez go down and then talked about our take on it in a snapshot after we saw the movie. Nothing more, nothing less. We take it this is your first time reading any of our reviews, otherwise you'd know that our format is to hold an open discussion about the film immediately after we see it. You say we should do research and check our facts, and normally if this was a traditionally written, third-person movie review then you'd be absolutely right. But to come to our blog and tell us how to do our own reviews is ignorant. Sorry that you don't like the way we review movies.

    2. yes you are right sucker punch was a mess so is the other two selena's movies who were also a mess and they floped hard in the box office and i don't why everybody is blaming vanessa for that mess since she wasnt the main girl in sucker punch

    3. Please stop feeding the trolls. It only makes it worse. If Anonymous strongly believes in what they write they wouldn't hide their name. This person is nothing more than a hateful doucebag.

  3. I really enjoyed Spring Breakers. I recommend it. After watching it I wanted to watch it over again, which is what I might do this weekend. I absolutely LOVED James, he was fantastic. And I thought Selena did great but I wished her character would have stayed longer.

    1. We're glad that you got that feeling to watch the movie again ASAP! That's what movies are supposed to do, especially when they resonate with an audience. Franco was certainly our favorite part of the movie and we'd love to see more performances like this from him. And we agree, we wish Selena would have stayed longer because her character was the most interesting of the four girls to us.

      Thank you for your comment, Lydia!

  4. I like both girls. I respect your opinion/review or whatever but saying that Vanessa Hudgens resents Disney? Wow! I'd believe you really but I've seen most of her interviews where she's grateful when asked about it... And the Anne Hathaway thing? Let's see, so early to say who is who...

    1. Totally fair. We can only talk about the interview that we've read, but you're the second reader to say she's praised Disney in other interviews. We don't doubt it, and in fact we're glad to hear it.

  5. I am very mixed with this movie. I liked it and yet can't really think of any reason to recomend it. I don't think parents will stop letting their kids watch Miss Gomez's Disney shows because of this movie. That would only cause kids to look this movie up. I think her career will be just fine

    1. When I say that some parents might make their kids stop watching Wizards of Waverly Place or whatever else Gomez has done, I only mean those overprotective parents that associate what an actor does in one thing with everything else. Her career will most definitely be just fine, she's just growing up and so will her audience/fans.

  6. i don't think selena's career will be that great , she is just fine nothing special she is no that great actress or singer
    and the movie wasnt good actually i'am more excited for Getaway (selena) and the frozen ground ( vanessa ) some people watched the frozen ground and said the movie is great so i'am pretty excited for that one

  7. What the hell is going on in this comment box?!

    Despite your rating, I'm still super curious to check Spring Breakers out. Harmony Korine is such a weirdo, I kinda love him.


  9. After watching it a second time I got to like it a little bit more. I can understand how the repetitiveness can be annoying , but Korine was going for the look and feel of a techno song with instead of repeated hooks and lyrics he would use images and dialogue. I agree that both Gomez and Franco were great in this, and I hope that most parents will know that these girls are actresses. Thanks for contriuting your review to the LAMB. I nominated you for a versatile award