Spring Breakers no Disney Girls Gone Wild

Harmony Korine’s new flick is a sunny trip to the dark side of today’s youth culture

Most people, including some long-term Harmony Korine fans, had a similar reaction to Spring Breakers: “Why would I pay to see a movie about skinny white girls shaking it to Skrillex?”

It can hardly be called an unreasonable response — everything about the movie, from posters featuring young women clad in neon bikinis to the film’s Disney Channel cast, screamed ‘just another teen party movie’. It was just too cliché to be true.

Following the American premiere of the movie, it seemed like a requirement for all reviews to have a line about girls leaving the movie in silent shock.

Spring Breakers will defy the viewers’ expectations — precisely because, whether the audience members knew it or not, the expectation itself was carefully constructed by the film’s director, Harmony Korine. And the sneaky genius did it just so he could reach the right audience without making them feel preached to.

The film follows four friends (played by Ashley Benson, of Pretty Little Liars fame; Selena Gomez, the Biebs’ long-term GF; Vanessa Hudgens, who rose to fame through the High School Musical series; and the director’s wife, Rachel Korine) who rob a fast-food restaurant to fund a trip to Florida for spring break.

Their adventures take an unexpected turn after the girls get arrested at a hotel party and bailed out from jail by local rapper and hustler Alien (based on the notorious rapper RiffRaff and brilliantly portrayed by James Franco).

Despite the initial scathing criticisms about Korine’s choice of actresses for the lead roles, Disney Channel and young adult television

Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures

Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures

stars are a perfect fit for the bored/temporarily-badass characters.

Moreover, the girls’ short foray into the local crime world beautifully demonstrates an average Saturday morning cartoon-raised suburbanite’s ability to deal with experiences they have only been exposed to through hip-hop lyrics.

The brilliance of Spring Breakers is showing experiences familiar to most Gen Y members through a different lens, as if daring them to take a moment and think about the reasons behind their ordinary activities.

Tracks from Skrillex and Britney Spears are highlights of the film’s peculiar soundtrack, which also takes the viewer on a musical journey of an average twenty-something’s life. Many girls who grew up dressing in schoolgirl outfits to mimic Spears’ “Baby One More Time”-era style are now sneaking joints into [pullquote align=”right”]”Why would I pay to see a movie about skinny white girls shaking it to Skrillex?”[/pullquote]dubstep shows and mouthing lyrics to the latest A$AP Rocky track.

The more one considers how deliberate each element of the movie really is, the more cinematic “Easter eggs” can be found. The biggest one is in the tagline — “Spring break forever” — which is also one of the most repeated lines in the movie.

The irony of the line is revealed when the viewer realizes that spring break’s very nature is to be temporary. Taken in the context of the movie, it is as temporary as the main characters’ crime spree: although it affects all the local players in a very permanent way, Spring Breakers Candy and Brit are able to go back to their “real” mundane lives, and have a chance to “be better”.

One of the many beautiful things about Harmony Korine’s movies is his ability to take a common element of current culture trends and expose its grotesque nature. Spring break, an experience aimed at a very narrow group of people, is a perfect target for Korine’s scrutiny.

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