The most divisive movie ever made about spring break, Harmony Korine’s dark comedy starring Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez opens in limited release on Friday.
The story centers on a group of college girls who end up partying in Florida, where they befriend an over-the-top drug czar (played by James Franco). But this isn’t just another teen romp a la American Pie. Korine (the screenplay writer of Kids) stages his film like an experimental narrative, with obscene dialogue, threesome scenes, glorification of firearms, an impromptu Britney Spears musical number and other general weirdness (like Franco simulating oral sex on a handgun).
Here’s what the critics have to say:
The New York Times: Manohla Dargis offered a rave, writing "Mr. Korine, a pasticheur and cultural vulgarian (part Dada, part European art cinema, part MTV’s Jackass), isn’t interested in making up your mind for you. Instead he tosses out his ideas like puzzle pieces and lets you see how or if they fit. The women want to go on spring break and want to have fun, and he seems to want the same."
Associated Press: Christy Lemire said that while watching the film, she “found it numbingly repetitive, even boring at times: an obvious juxtaposition of sex and violence, of dreamlike aesthetics within a nightmare scenario.” But she still gave Spring Breakers film a good review. “This is the rare movie that I actually found myself liking more the longer I spent away from it and the more I thought about it—mainly because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Rolling Stone (2.5 stars): "If you want to stop hating on James Franco for his 2011 Oscar-hosting debacle, the time is now. Spring Breakers, beach-party fluff done as an art film by the reliably bizarre Harmony Korine, is a return to form for Franco. As Alien, a gun-crazy Florida drug dealer with tats, beaded cornrows and a grill any rapper would envy, Franco is a bug-fuck blast."
The New York Post (1.5 stars): "Besides Franco, the only actual acting going on here comes from Justin Bieber’s ex-girlfriend, Gomez.”
USA Today: “Spring Breakers is an exploitative display of bacchanalian excess, casual sex and rampant nudity that’s more tedious than titillating. Things perk up when James Franco appears about halfway through the movie, sporting cornrows, gold teeth and a dollar-sign neck tattoo. But when the focus is on various permutation of wild partying, it’s a monotonous blur of beer bongs and bare breasts.”
The Daily Beast movie critics Ramin Setoodeh and Marlow Stern debate "Spring Breakers."