When the pastel-colored opening title sequence erupts on screen to a bass thumping dub-step soundtrack, you begin to think you’re in for some fun in the sun.
Then the slo-mo images of spring break partiers comes on screen, pouring alcohol all over their toned, tanned, scantily-clad bodies as they dance on the beach, and you realize there’s something a little seedy about the movie.
Then the bikini tops come off, and you realize this isn’t your parents “Beach Blanket Bingo” movie.
The movie follows four female childhood friends in college, most notably Selena Gomez (Disney channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place”) and Vanessa Hudgens (Disney channel’s “High School Musical”) who have been saving up to get out of their small town for spring break and plan on heading to the beach.
Well, they soon discover that, between all of them, they haven’t saved enough. So what do they do? Hold up a fried chicken restaurant with toy guns to fund their weeklong trip.
And it works. And soon, they are off living the young teen girl American dream of beaches, booze and boys.
But they get busted while on their little vacation and soon are in police custody, alone and scared.
Enter James Franco’s character, Alien. A local drug and arms dealer who’s a mix between Vanilla Ice, Eminem and every gangster you’ve seen wandering the streets after midnight.
But it’s Franco that made everyone sit up in their seat and start really paying attention to more than just the scantily clad cast, who by the way, spend the majority of the movie in bikinis.
He sees the damsels in distress while they’re in court and decides to bail them out because he believes they’re his soulmates.
And then the movie turns violent, strange, surreal and poetic. Especially the scene where Franco plays an ivory grand piano by the beach for the girls as they sing a Britney Spears tune.
The film’s director, Harmony Korine, is probably most known for his controversial indie hit from the 90s “Kids”.
“Spring Breakers” is by far his most commercial effort, but that doesn’t mean he toned down his art house sensibilities. Probably having Disney channel exes boosted his budget a bit and allowed him more freedom to play with the audience and allow all the actors to release any and all vices they’ve ever held inside for the world to see.
Vanessa Hudgens clearly was ready to shake off her family-friendly image and seems to relish in the fact that she’s in a rated R film made by such an off-kilter director. It should be interesting to see what other movie roles she takes after this.
The movie as a whole is sort of a strange, lucid dream and gets really seedy and grimy halfway through, and you begin to feel scared for the girls as they end up being dragged into a world of drugs, guns and violence.
And that’s part of the beauty of the film. It’s girl power to the 10th degree as they hold their own, never get taken advantage of and eventually take control of every situation thrown at them. These girls are tough; they just never knew it until they got tested and prevailed.
It gets violent and dirty. So much so that, towards the climactic ending, people began walking out.
The movie flows like a fever dream of vices and violence, but is beautifully shot and artistically crafted.
Dub-step master Skrillex provides most of the soundtrack, which thumps it’s way in to your head, and sometimes you think you’re watching a music video instead of a film, but it fits the vibe of the film.
All of the actors are believable and are pretty outstanding. Franco will more than likely garner another Academy Award nomination for his performance, which is par with any Johnny Depp role.
He’s that good in this film. You actually forget it’s Franco, with his silver grill and dreadlocks and cheap tattoos. It’s really amazing to observe.
It’s a beautiful escapist, poetic trip, and after watching the movie you’ll never think of spring break the same.
And, fathers, you’ll want to lock up your daughters.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.