Spring Breakers

Mar 23, 2013

Phantasmagoric and fleshy, but a slight bit more substantial than you'd think.

Spring Breakers
Grade: B-
Director: Harmony Korine (Trash Humpers)
Screenplay: Korine
Cast: James Franco (Oz the Great and Magnificent), Selena Gomez (Monte Carlo)
Rating: R
Runtime: 94 min.
by John DeSando

It’s not Stravinsky, but it is all about the rites of spring, college-wise, that is. Spring Breakers’ title suggests the ambivalence of an annual romp in Florida, suggestive of young adult revels that promise as much heartbreak as sensual delight. The opening montage reminiscence of MTV with a harsh techno score and bountiful breasts is more fantastic than realistic, and liberally licentious enough to suggest girls are gone wild and guys, well, they are minor players in this distaff odyssey.

The surprisingly droll story of four teens who go wrong on their way to and during spring break in Florida is at the least an amusing comment on the brainless bacchanalia of youth and at most a cautionary tale about the effects of weed and beer on the rational processes of the mind. While breaking the law and hooking up with a Charles Manson-type drug pusher, arms dealer, and rapper, Alien (a creepy stoner played effectively by James Franco), the girls grow from small college slackers to shockingly minor outlaws, with only Faith (Selena Gomez) leaving early as she listens to her Christian faith.

Director Harmony Korine, reputedly accustomed to provocative images, infuses the  close-ups of body parts and pleasure  tools with a bright color palette that suggests all is not bright and good while riddling the mise en scene with phallic symbols, mostly guns and big bongs,  regularly sucked to no good effect. It reminds me of Natural Born Killers come to  think of it.

For those parents in the audience fearing for the lives of their college-bound teens, not to fear, most spring breakers just end up drunk in jail. Given what happens in this surreal romp, that’s mild.

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel. Contact him at