Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Spring Breakers

Sometimes something is so bad that it’s actually starts to seem good; or so outrageous that it actually makes sense.  And for about two seconds in the middle of Spring Breakers, I started to wonder if this was one of those instances.  But then James Franco went on a ten minute monologue about guns and Calvin Klein Escape and I was reassured that this was nothing more than cinematic refuse.  In fact, this film is so bad that there is no lens I can think of, through which this movie can be rationalized as anything more than terrible.  Sure, there are the apologists and contrarians who will look at the bright colors and the gratuitous sexual innuendo and convince themselves that this is art nouveau on crack, but then those are probably the same people who think dog poo smeared across a blank canvas is artistically meaningful.

The plot of the movie follows four incredibly misguided youths (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine) as they go to extreme measures to participate in the annual rite of spring break in Florida.  When a local drug dealing wanna-be-rapper (James Franco) bails them out of jail, they embark on a low-rent-low-level crime spree that puts them on a collision course with a local heavy. 

The problem then with the synopsis in the preceding paragraph is that it gives the impression that this movie has an actual plot when it is in fact a muddled mess of graphic sexual exploitation and every ignorant stereotype that you can come up with.  That is not the fatal flaw of this movie, as many a movie have been built on rocky foundations but still managed to entertain.  No, the problem here is that it looks and feels as though director Harmony Korine simply has no idea how to direct, cut, and score a feature film.  So then it should come as no surprise that this is his first time in the big chair. 

Rather than a movie, this set of scenes plays like the fetish fantasy of a seventeen years old boy who takes too many drugs and plays too many video games.  The visuals are a cheap rip off of Miami Vice with neon and pastels and the dialogue is so amateurish that the crowd spent half the film laughing through scenes that are unintentionally funny.  The edits are incoherent and sloppy, and the musical score completely bungled. 

As for the cast, James Franco follows up his subpar effort in Oz with a performance that is even worse.  I give him credit for taking a risk and going for it, but this character Alien is an unbelievable caricature of ten outdated stereotypes.  The stench of his performance may be as much a product of Korine’s writing as it is his performance, but there are just too many cringe inducing scenes to give Franco a pass.  As for the cast of former tween stars headlining this movie, Selena Gomez gets the nod for worst in show.  I’m not going to mince words here.  She simply cannot act.  Regardless of film or role, she simply does not have enough talent to convince anyone of anything.  My guess here is that her biggest claim to fame going forward will be as Bieber’s on-again-off-again girlfriend until his five minutes of fame mercifully come to an end.

Then there is the trio of Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine.  The three of them essentially delivered the same performance.  When they weren’t naked and participating in some kind of erotica, they were desperately overacting to convince viewers they were street ready and hardcore.  Was it embarrassing?  Yes.  Were they worse than Franco or Gomez?  No.  So in this context, that has to be viewed as a win.  As for the rest of the cast, there were a bunch of exaggerated stereotypes walking around with guns, bongs, and bibles but none of them bring anything to the table and thus are not worthy of a mention.

In my experience I have come to find that voices that are the most loud and obnoxious tend to have the least meaningful thoughts to express and that’s what this movie is.  It’s loud, bombastic, and over-the-top but it doesn’t have anything important to convey and doesn’t really have a compelling story to tell.  This movie is nothing more than a director (and I use that word loosely) indulging his own personal fantasies onscreen and does not need to be seen let alone paid for.  Watch pretty much anything else (yes, even Project X) and you will find yourself far more entertained.

Standout Performance: Anyone who passed on this movie.


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