In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “There’s a fine line between commenting on something and indulging in it.”
“Just pretend it’s a video game. Like you’re in a fucking movie.”
Harmony Korine might not be the creepiest old perve in Hollywood, but he did get his start in the industry as an apprentice to the creepiest old perve in Hollywood, Larry Clark. Way back in the mid-90s, Korine, then in is early twenties, wrote the screenplay for Kids, Clark’s feature film debut telling the story of sex, drugs and aids in New York, as perpetrated by teenagers. Takeaway the aids, move it to Florida and ad a whole heap of fluro, body glitter and Skrillex, you get Spring Breakers.
Korine moved into the director’s chair pretty soon after Kids and has stayed in the ultra low and micro budget world, building an ultra micro cult following. But with Spring Breakers, he was given the budget and cast to go for the mainstream. And that’s exactly what’s he’s done… Or at least, attempted.
Did you know people in their late teens / early twenties can be dumb, selfish and narcissistic? Of course you did, so you don’t need a ninety minute movie to tell you that. Did you know that hot girls in their in their late teens / early twenties look even hotter in bikinis? Of course you did, so even that will wear a little thin over ninety minutes.
Spring Breakers is the story of four college girls trying to fund a boozy, drug fuelled Florida holiday. Selena Gomez plays Faith. I remember that, because she’s religious. I know Korine was being pretty sneaky and subtle when he named the religious one “Faith”, but I’m pretty switched on saw what he was doing there. Then there are three others. They wear bikinis, commit crimes, play up and whatever. We know they’re too broke to get to Florida because they pool all their cash on the floor of a dorm room toilet. Why do they do it there when they’ve already told each other they have the entire building to themselves? I think the only reason they do it there is because Korine likes the harsh, florescent lights, bouncing off the cold, dirty tiles. Sure, go for interesting visual choices, but at least have some reason for the characters to be there while you’re at it.
After the three non-Faiths rob a fast food store, all four are cashed up and on their way to Florida. It’s heaps of fun until they end up in jail, only to be bailed out by James Franco’s drug dealer named Alien. Now, when Spring Breakers came out in cinemas a few months ago, everyone was banging on about how amazing Franco was. I just don’t see it. More than once, I heard or read critics mention his “look at my shit” speech as a highlight. So I finally see this thing and what do a I get? A scene that looks the first take of a weak adlib that isn’t even good enough to be a DVD extra. James Franco gets a lot of credit for the interesting choices he makes, but it’s important to remember that “interesting” doesn’t always equal “good”.
I’m sure Korine, Gomez, the three non-Faiths, Franco and everyone involved think they made a scathing comment on youth and entitlement, or whatever. But there’s a fine line between commenting on something and indulging in it. If the people you’re attacking see you as a high fiving, beer bong chugging, line snorting, dub step listening, body shotting bro, are you really attacking them at all?
(Review originally posted July 16, 2013)