Monday, October 14, 2013

Spring Breakers Review

Spring Breakers Review
I had a gut feeling that I wouldn't be too fond of "Spring Breakers," however, what surprised me was how much I despised it.

"Spring Breakers," is an ugly movie, phony to the core. Its a incoherent mess of massive proportions. It lacks nearly everything required to make it memorable, important, engaging and most importantly, entertaining. You will read on websites and other reviews about how it evokes social commentary. Nope, sorry, it doesn't. This is just an excuse to get young actresses in bikini's and get them to pretend like their cool, that what their doing actually matters. It doesn't though, not in the least. 

I've been reading everywhere that "Spring Breakers" is a part comedy, part drama. Throughout the thankfully brief running time, I wondered, what part of any of this is suppose to be funny? As I looked at posters and trailers for the film, I thought it was going to be an edgy dark comedy that might work by whim. Don't be fooled like I was, "Spring Breakers" is not funny. The film doesn't gravitate toward anything resembling humor. The film obviously wants to be sleek and stylish and on that front it accomplishes its goal. Everything else about the film is grimy, mundane and vapid. 

The film opens to a huge beach party, filled with hundreds of college kids with a Skrillex beat hovering in our ears. Its a powerful scene, and it actually would have set the film up nicely had the film been more comedy and less whatever-it-is. I still haven't figured what this is suppose to be. The film focuses on four friends (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) who really want to go on spring break, but don't have the money to finance it. So they decide to steal a professor's car and rob a restaurant. With money in hand, the friends then go to Florida for break. Nevermind, that each girl was yelling out of the car directly after the robbery, they made it down to Florida and alluded authorities with ease.

After countless days of partying, the girls get in trouble with the law for narcotics possession. They are mysteriously bailed out of jail by Alien (James Franco) a white-trash rapper who also happens to be a gangster. For unexplained and possibly annoying reasons, the girls decide to hang out with Alien for the rest of their break, despite that Alien is raging a one-man war against rival drug dealers. Franco's work in "Spring Breakers" is absolutely incorrigible. I think he's a funny guy, but there is no humor at play here. I always thought Franco falls flat dramatically and that really shows in "Spring Breakers." He is also preposterously unbelievable as a white rapping, gangbanger.

Like I said, nothing about the movie is funny. Each scene from the beginning of the film to its end is shot with gloomy, murky cinematography. The film is very dark for its entire running time. The party scenes aren't particularly fun as the camera focuses on the darker corners of the partying, (and we aren't there partying with them.) which makes most of the first half very dull. After the girls get bailed out of jail, the film seems to change completely. The girls get escorted around town by Alien, meeting a bunch of criminals who look like they want to eat these girls for supper. Then the big finish at the end is the most uninspired, stupid ending to any film this year. It also doesn't help that it makes very little sense, barely anything is explained in this film so I was left dumbfounded. The film plays gritty and dark the whole way through, it would have been convincing if it didn't try so hard.

I guess the only thing that was laughable about this entire thing was Hudgens, Gomez, Benson and Korine trying to be little badasses. They all failed onscreen because they didn't make me buy into this film. I didn't buy their need to go on spring break, I didn't buy how overly-sexualized they were, I didn't buy their unexplained transition to crime, I didn't buy how a couple of them all-of-a-sudden became killers and murdered dozens of men without feeling anything afterward and I particularly didn't buy these girls as party-girls. Gomez and Hudgens got their start on Disney for crying out-loud, my guess is that they wanted to do something edgy just to be cool. But doing something like this doesn't score automatic points. There needs to be conviction that the audience buys into, which will make the audience look for these actresses in other films like this. It doesn't work though. They just smile and look pretty while they sport pink ski masks and machine guns, and we're just suppose to root for them.

At an hour and thirty minutes, the film drags. It moves at such a slow pace that the whole experience becomes mind-numbing. I guess director Harmony Korine wanted to give the audience the experience of a college spring break, but he failed. He takes the experience and literally bashes the audience over the head with it. I never attended a college spring break, but I went to many college get-togethers and I never saw anything remotely resembling what I saw in this movie. Plus the experimental, artsy touches this film makes are so far out of context that I rolled my eyes at many points in the film. There are so many repeated voice-overs and needless doublespeak that I wondered if the editor fell asleep on the job. The film does not make a single commentary on our society. I read somewhere that the four girls are suppose to resemble the falling Western civilization...hogwash. There is no deeper meaning to this film, everything is artificial, everything is meant to look cool, but none of it is cool. To make a film like this and try to take it seriously is actually insulting to me.

I wrote so much about this film tonight as a friendly warning. This is not the "college co-ed version of The Hangover." This is dark movie about a spring break gone wrong, but its made for the sake of being dark. There is nothing under the surface, there is no greater context, there is barely a story to tell. Its just style, artsy images and pretty faces that add up to nothing. Hollywood, please stop Selena Gomez from acting, she can't act to save her life and she is proactively ruining everything I see her in. Oh, and she looks like she's 12, never put her in a bikini again, its disgusting.  There is nothing more silly than a movie that can't accept its own terms, so it tries to be something its not. There is nothing but surface to "Spring Breakers" but they try to package it well. They failed. Miserably.

FINAL GRADE: F

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