Fluffy just had the misfortune to sit through Harmony Korine’s ode to modern youth excess, Spring Breakers, and I am being completely honest when I tell you that I may never recover. I kind of never want to watch another movie again. Before anyone starts sniping that I “don’t get it,” “it’s an art film”, and “the performances are really strong”, let me lay down some truth for you. I get it. I have watched and appreciated various thematically similar films– Blow, Natural Born Killers, Blue Velvet. All strange movies about bad people. I may not have enjoyed a lot of what I was watching, but I understood the intent and the effort. I really liked Thirteen for its portrayal of the rottenness at the core of youth’s so-called innocence. The “art-film” excuse doesn’t hold water either. I’ve watched numerous art-house flicks, some of those really difficult to watch, some in foreign languages even, but it’s still plain to see the craftsmanship that goes into such movies and recognize their merits, even if you’re a plebeian who would rather be watching car-crashes, Lifetime movies or reality television. Strong performances? Not so much. Annoying accents, bad-girl and gangsta posturing, and random acts of stupid don’t make a good performance. Shall I go on in detail? Yes, I shall.
The movie focuses its gaze on a quartet of small-town college girls played by Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine (the director’s wife). We get that they’re bored with their lives, and we also get that at least a couple of these girls Fail at Life Forever. Their misplaced and overweening need to go to the beach for spring break leads to their robbing a restaurant so they can use the money to cruise around on Vespas in bikinis and get wasted on substances legal and illegal. The latter lands them in jail, where they are conveniently bailed out by a nearly unrecognizable James Franco in hideous white-boy micros and a tinfoil grill. This is the point where an already vapid film gets just plain asinine. Why would any sane person join their fortunes to this irritating, unsavory and obviously nasty character? Well, a few of the girls just aren’t sane– or very smart. Selena very wisely hightails it home about ten minutes after getting sprung from the clink, but we don’t see her again; instead we get to follow the exploits of her friends who choose to stay and play cops ‘n’ robbers with Franco’s terminally icky drug dealer. There is literally nothing grosser than wannabe thug culture, especially when the wannabe thug in question sports a thick and grating accent that wavers between Deep-South Rube and White-Guy-Trying-to-Sound-Black, drives an ostentatious Chevy with “BALLR” vanity plates, worships at the altar of Scarface, has an annoying habit of jumping up and down yelling “Look at mah s–t!”, and worst of all, considers Britney Spears the finest musician of all time. One of the girls gets shot in the arm by Gucci Mane (!) and decides she wants to go home too, leaving the two baddest girls to shoot up everybody, including Franco and Gucci Mane, and run off in their bikinis and My Little Pony ski masks into the sunset. Okay. Whatever.
The filming style is deliberately incoherent, I think; scenes are repeated, voiceovers are repeated, disjointed crowd images and scenes of hedonistic behavior pepper the proceedings, and there is an extended musical interlude set to a Britney Spears song which is so pretentious and stupid that I was stifling laughter. I mean, it was unintentional hilarity, which is sometimes the best kind, so if you do check out this movie, just fast forward to that part and laugh your butt off– you’ll know you’re there when Franco sits at a white baby grand piano inexplicably placed next to a pool and the girls in their bikinis and pink ski masks start doing a little interpretive dance with their assault weapons. You’ll either get a kick out of that part or your eyeballs will bleed. I can’t promise which. I was doing a little of both.
If the film is supposed to be a cautionary tale about the glamorization of violence and drugs in teen culture, it fails; we never see the remaining spring breakers get their comeuppance. If we are supposed to find the characters relatable, they aren’t; most of them are varying degrees of village idiot. Their actions are utterly random and unmotivated. The only level on which it succeeds is showing the seamy side of life, which I suppose is populated with such extreme examples of unintelligence. (I actually cheered when one of the girls got shot.) And don’t blame boredom for such prime stupidity– for Chrissakes, get a dog or a hobby or something. (Rolls eyes, facepalms.) None of the characters still onscreen at the end have even a shred of self-respect and among them might have one firing brain cell. If this is the future of “art film”, I think I may take up watching reality TV. The SeriouslyFluffy Final Grade: F