Is Spring Breakers Terrible or Amazing? Honestly, We're Still Trying To Figure That Out.

Spring Breakers.
Harmony Korine,
Writer: Harmony Korine.
Cast: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Gucci Mane.
Where's it playing? Various Metroplex megaplexes.

I'll be frank with you guys: It took me some time after first seeing the above trailer for Spring Breakers to even come to terms with its existence.

Was it something I dreamed? Were repressed memories of my own high school senior trip in Cancun resurfacing? Was I just suffering from Oz-like effects from the everlasting James Franco craze? Had I just seen High School Musical too many times and watched too many MTV Spring Break shows in my younger years?

Nope. None of the above. Spring Breakers, as it turns out, is no fever dream. It's very real — and probably the most insane movie-going experience you're likely to have at the cinema this year, if not the last few years.

Yes, this movie is the cinematic equivalent of tripping balls.

And, yet, for all its anarchy, Spring Breakers is actually quite the simple tale — well, in concept, at least. We've seen this movie before, really. In the late '80s, we called it Heathers. Around the turn of the millennium, it was called Sugar & Spice.

In execution, however, Spring Breakers is like nothing else we've ever seen.

Here's the plot: Four college co-eds (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine), bored with the stale American Dream that life has handed them, decide to carpe the effin' diem and head to Florida for Spring Break. But the beckoning calls of a little carefree fun-in-the-sun bring out their dark side. With no money to get them to their destination, they decide to rob a restaurant with nothing more than a squirt gun, a mallet and a lot of #SWAG at their disposal. Then, when their novice criminal effort proves a successful one, it's off to SPRIIIIIING BREEEEEEEEEEEAK! It's their paradise. Partying 24/7 fills the voids in their heart-shaped tan-toos. Eventually, though, their sun-bleached dream — an all-out sex, drugs and dubstep- and hip-hop-fueled brodown/hoedown — soon becomes their neon nightmare. That is, until fate unites them with their ethereal spirit guide in the form of a Hawaiian shirt-clad, corn-rowed, chrome-grilled gangster named Alien (James Franco).

I could tell you where the film goes from here, but why spoil it? Plus, you probably wouldn't believe me.

Still, for all its craziness, questions remain: Does director Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo) actually form a good film with this effort? Is it at least decent enough a reactionary thought to the Jersey Shore zeitgeist and its self-destructive ways? Or is it just “Bikinis and big booties, y'all — that's what life is about!” and all that such Alien-delivered mantras entail? Is Spring Breakers just — gulp — an exploitative product geared toward the MTV generation?

I'm not yet sure I've made up my mind on this front. Consider the following: Within the first ten seconds of the film, the screen is filled with bouncing bare breasts; within the first minute, our female stars are smoking copious amounts of pot; within the first five minutes, they're snorting cocaine. And yet Spring Breakers somehow does feel significantly deeper than a simple sex-romp with a dangerous side.

It's a confusing reaction this film elicits, there's no doubt about that. In an A.V. Club interview posted yesterday, even Korine seems to acknowledge that.

“It's crazy,” he told that non-satirical arts-and-entertainment arm of the The Onion about the reception his film is already earning, both positive and negative. “I don't know what's going on. I'm still trying to figure it out myself. It's like throwing a stick of dynamite into the zeitgeist or something. It's strange, the whole experience.”

Considering the notorious director's previous work (he wrote 1995's Kids when he was nothing more than one himself), you've got to think there's more at play here than meets the eye.

The honest truth, however, is that Spring Breakers is most likely whatever each member of its audience wants it to be. It's a mirror in that regard.

Is it an observational mockumentary? Is it a serious narrative whose funniest moments are completely unintentional? Is it repetitive, sexploitative schlock that does little more than capitalize on its stars' Disney-backed pasts? Is it genius social commentary, a scathing look at the suburban white America's glorification of black street culture? Is it purely a fantasy, given that our heroines don't necessarily pay much for their crimes? Or, on the other hand, is it a genius snapshot look at a thrill ride, given the open-ended way with which the film concludes?

Yes. All of the above.

If what you see in the film alarms or horrifies you, then it's one type of film. If what you see in the film makes you want to book a one-way ticket for Florida for March 2013, then, hey, that works, too. Because, after all, YOLO.

But I have a feeling that with time — and probably not that much time — Spring Breakers will be viewed as a tent-pole film of this decade. It will become a cult classic. Film students will write piles of essays about it — maybe even whole chapters of film analysis. James Franco will earn awards that don't yet exist for his incredibly captivating portrayal of Alien.

In the end, Spring Breakers isn't so much a film as it is a fully encompassing experience of the senses — both in film-making and film-viewing.

No, we've never seen anything quite like it before.

Spring Break 4EVA, indeed.

Rating: 8 out of 10 bottles of dark tannin' oil.

Also in theaters around town this week…

Olympus Has Fallen.
Antoine Fuqua.
Writers: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt.
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman.
Where's it playing? Various Metroplex megaplexes.

From the director of Training Day comes this politically-infused action flick starring Gerard Butler as a defunct presidential guard who faces his moment of redemption when he's entrusted to rescue the President from inside the White House, which is now under the control of terrorists. I would've preferred this film under its original title, Bad Dudes: The President Has Been Kidnapped By Ninjas! Are You a Bad Enough Dude to Rescue the President?

The Croods.
Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders.
Writers: Chris Sanders, Kirk De Micco.
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone.
Where's it playing? Various Metroplex megaplexes.

From one of the dudes who did How to Train Your Dragon comes The Croods, an animated film about the world's first prehistoric family taking a road trip. Something tells me that it will be very different from the other road trip movie released this week.

On the Road.
Walter Salles.
Writers: Jack Kerouac, Jose Rivera.
Cast: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart.
Where's it playing? The Magnolia, Angelika Plano.

Based on the classic 1957 novel of the same name from Jack Kerouac, this story is inspired by the author's cross-country travels with other icons of the beat generation, including Neal Cassady, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. This film has been trying to get off the ground since the late '50s, with Brando famously turning down a personal letter from Kerouac, begging him to star in an adaptation. Other iterations were rumored to star Ethan Hawke, Brad Pitt, Billy Crudup and Colin Farrell from such directors as Francis Ford Coppola and Gus Van Sant. Instead, we get the version starring Kristen Stewart and featuring her various nude scenes. So, I guess that's a trade-off.

Paul Weitz.
Writers: Karen Croner, Jean Hanff Korelitz.
Cast: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff.
Where's it playing? Various Metroplex megaplexes.

Tina Fey stars as a Princeton college admissions officer faced with admitting or denying a kid that may or may not be the one she gave up in a secret adoption years prior. Paul Rudd stars as that kid. Just kidding! Paul Rudd does star not as that kid. Boy, would that movie have taken a turn for the weird!

Ginger & Rosa.
Sally Potter.
Writer: Sally Potter.
Cast: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Annette Bening.
Where's it playing? Angelika Dallas.

Set in 1960s London during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the film centers around two teenage girls whose friendship has a rift ripped through it due to the impending doom the world potentially faces. My best friend and I encountered a similar experience when we were teenagers, if you just replaced “Cuban missile crisis” with “stop putting your fingerprints all over my Weezer CD.”

The NeverEnding Story (1984) in 35MM.
Wolfgang Petersen.
Writers: Wolfgang Petersen, Herman Weigel.
Cast: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach.
Where's it playing? Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24, at The Texas Theatre,

Atreyu! Falkor! If you're a baby of the '80s like me, then the luckdragon is on your side this weekend. The Texas Theatre is showing the 1984 classic about a boy transported to the fantasy world of Fantasia via the pages of mysterious book — and in its original 35MM print, no less.

The ABCs of Death.
Writers: Various.
Where's it playing? Friday, March 22, through Thursday, March 28, at The Texas Theatre.

15 writers. 26 chapters. A sick and sadistic collection of shorts from some of indie horror's top talents. Having seen The ABCs of Death for myself at Fantastic Fest last year, I can tell you that this is one you'll want to see on the big screen, and in the perfect setting of midnight at The Inwood. Just prepare yourself: This film is like learning your letters of the alphabet on Sesame Street — if all the muppets were covered in blood and were horribly offensive.

The Room (2003).
Tommy Wiseau.
Writer: Tommy Wiseau.
Cast: Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero.
Where's it playing? Friday at Midnight at The Inwood Theatre.

The Room, the greatest worst movie, is back at The Inwood for you to throw plastic spoons at. If you've never experienced this cinematic disaster-piece on the big screen — or at all — you owe it to yourself to rectify that this weekend. If not for yourself, then do it for Johnny.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
Jim Sharman.
Writer: Jim Sharman.
Cast: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick.
Where's it playing? Saturday at Midnight at the Inwood Theatre.

Do the time warp again. Maybe this time in costume.


















































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