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Article by Teddy Durgin

Spring Breakers Breaks Wrong for Durgin

Lets face it. Theres not a lot of grace and decency left in theworld. Case in point, in 1939, Frank Morgan played the title role in The Wizard of Oz. The great character actor was a charming huckster in thatfilm, endearing himself to generations of moviegoers for years to come. He probably had his pick of eccentric supporting parts after that. Now, I dont have his filmography handy. But Im pretty sure that shortly after that films release, Morgan didnt feel the need to stretch by playing a violent, profane drug dealer with corn-rows and an eye for drunk college girls in need of bail money. But thats what our current Wizard of Oz, James Franco,plays in the new movie Spring Breakers OK, OK. Lets be fair here. The two characters are not that far off. One day, Francos wizard will bestow the gifts of a home, a heart, a brain, and courage on four travelers in need. Here, Francos tatted-up criminal is also a wizard of sorts, bestowing the gifts of ... well, cocaine, liquor, assault rifles, and a vintage Camaro on four other travelers similarly out of their element. Weve comeso far as a people. Spring Breakers is the latest calculated, in-your-face button pusher from writer-director Harmony Korine, who cinema enthusiasts have come to consider either a daring auteur or a creepy pervert thanks to such past flicks as Kids (which featured the endearing Virgin Surgeon) and Gummo. This latest film of his is not a throwback to the care-free cheapies of the 1980s like Spring Break, Fraternity Vacation, Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise and Where the Boys Are 84. This is more like if Darren Aronofsky shot a Girls Gone Wild video. Yes, it does have artful intentions in following four bored college co-eds (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine) who don ski masks and use toy guns to knock over a restaurant back home to get the money they need to go to Florida for Spring Break. To psyche themselves up for the crime, they chant over and over again, Pretend its just a video game! Once in the Sunshine State, they get busted at a cocaine party and tossed into the ol pokey. Enter Alien (Franco), a local low life who bails them out and introduces them to a life of real crime. You see, Florida is full of good drug dealers. Alien doesnt want tobe a good drug dealer. He wants to be a great drug dealer. Three of the four girls jump into his gangsta lifestyle with both feet and soon become embroiled with Alien in a turf war with a rival dealer (Gucci Mane). The whole time, they rarely change out of their bikinis or stop drinking. A final shootout before returning home for finals is inevitable. And thats the flick in a nutshell, folks. Im sure Korine thinks he is delivering some deep message or sly social commentary here. But what is it? Is he saying that the video-game generation is really a bored, thrill-starved de-generation who cant distinguish between the real world and the virtual one? Or, is he saying that the young people of today are growing up without morals, without values, without disciplineor boundaries and this is the inevitable result? Or, is he just saying, Hey, if you can take a week or two off mid-semester, go down to Florida, coke out, get lit, and arm yourself to the teeth ... DO IT! Its a more fun ride than any of the ones at Epcot! The problem is, for anyone who needs a story and dialogue, this is a pretty poor effort. No matter how artful your intentions are, I still think you need characters to draw you in. The four lead females here are as vapid as they come. And Korines love of repeating lines and moments and even entire scenes over and over again like he is making some kind of weird, feature-length tone poem or something just gets tedious. Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Teddy, youre a man, right? The flick is wall-to-wall breasts! Who cares if theres no script?! You got me there. On that level, I give it four stars ...two thumbs up a grade of A+. Its the Chest Film of the Year. Andif I am beingperfectly honest, I cant dismiss Spring Breakers entirely as a work of cinema. Korines visual eye is extraordinary. The cinematography here is darn-near dream like. And, yes, Franco is outstanding as Alien. He is the onlyactor in the film allowed to play a full character, and its one that might become iconic to some. Sure, hes basically the Devil on these girls shoulders. But Alien has a back story and a point of a view (his name isAl, but he boasts that he is from another world). A better film might have been one told entirely from hisperspective with the four girls used as sounding boards for different parts of his personality. However, by focusing on them, Spring Breakers comes across as artsy exploitation and little more.

Spring Breakers is rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use, and violence throughout.

 

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