Thursday, January 18, 2018
Things To Do

Review: 'Spring Breakers' a brilliant, baffling Tampa Bay fantasy

By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

Spring Breakers is aggressively artful and unfocused, which would be a problem except it's also luridly fascinating throughout.

Would it be so if writer-director-provocateur Harmony Korine filmed this Day-Glo depravity anywhere other than our own suntropolis? Perhaps not.

But it appears Tampa Bay wears fringe nihilism well, including wet-fever dreams of trigger-happy angels floating on cannabis clouds and dusted with cocaine like beignets waiting to be licked clean. Or drug gangstas sporting cornrows and gold-grill teeth, living large and thinking three-ways. Film as a fetish tool, that's what Spring Breakers is all about, y'all.

It would be little more than soft-core porn except that Korine possesses hard-core talent. There are passages in this movie proving that, and nearly as many making us wonder why it emerges so erratically. Spring Breakers winds up going off the rails and over the trestle into deep, murky waters, but it's a hell of a ride.

The brazenness of Korine's vision leaves our beach communities recognizably misshapen, like a friend's face after a beatdown. This is a rampage fantasy, not only for its Disney Channel starlets posing dangerously but also for every college kid doing the same to buddies back on campus. There's enough beer-bonging, crotch-grabbing, lewd, lascivious and loving it action to fill a T-shirt shop with slogans.

The promise of such carefree carnality is what leads Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine, the director's wife) to finance a Florida trip by robbing a restaurant with squirt guns and a sledgehammer. It's a brilliantly executed scene, entirely filmed from the front seat of a getaway car circling the joint, making the audience accomplices. The girls entice good-girl Faith (Selena Gomez) to join them on the trip but she won't hang around long.

Faith is shaken by a beach party drug bust and getting bailed out of jail by the movie's wildest card, a blinged-out rapper/drug dealer named Alien (James Franco), who's a Halloween costume waiting to happen. "Truth be told, I ain't from this planet, y'all," says this foul-mouthed trailer trash satyr made good by breaking bad. Franco makes a repellent character engaging, instantly quotable and generally unprintable.

Alien makes these bad girls worse, grooming criminal instincts by putting real guns in their hands for a bracing crime spree montage set to Britney Spears. It's all fun and games until someone loses blood, a casualty of Alien's feud with another dealer (Gucci Mane). As something resembling a plot coalesces, the movie falls apart, repeating itself in dialogue and structure.

The first time through, maybe even the second, Korine's pervy touches are fun, the way his camera dips beneath a swimming pool waterline, peeking at girls like a horny, curious kid. Or his stylish foreshadowing: the sonic coda of bullets jacked into gun chambers, and time shuffles not quite spoiling what happens next. Dialogue and flourishes are repeated ad nauseam and get redundant, until nothing short of abrupt violence can suitably end the movie. And so it does.

The end won't come too soon for some people, the ones preferring our community image in movies to be where the codgers and dolphin play. Nothing about Spring Breakers reflects badly on where we live because, like Alien, Korine's movie ain't from this planet, y'all. It's just another close encounter with a Hollywood seldom allowing truth to get in the way of a good story.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow him on Twitter @StevePersall.

 

Comments

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosNASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony8 p.m.NBCSNCollege basketballBuffalo at Western Michigan7 p.m.ESPNUSt. Bonaventure at Davidson7 p.m.ESPN2Canisius at Manhattan9 p.m.ESPNUIllinois at Wisconsin9 p.m.FS1College gymnasticsFlorida at Kentuc...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

Peter Mayle, whose international bestseller A Year in Provence sent countless tourists to the vineyards and lavender fields of Southern France, has died.In an email, Mr. Mayle’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, reported that he died Thursday in a hospital...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Low temperatures led to frost Thursday morning

Low temperatures led to frost Thursday morning

A very small patch of frost formed in Palm Harbor where the temperature fell to 25 degrees at daybreak on Jan. 18, 2018. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TimesIce is seen on a hibiscus plant in a Clearwater garden Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Frost formed Thursday ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
'American Pickers' is coming to Florida, and wants to pick through your stuff

'American Pickers' is coming to Florida, and wants to pick through your stuff

Know someone with a cool collection of antiques, collectibles or dust-covered old “junk” they’ve been holding onto for years in the hopes of someday cashing in?The time may be now.American Pickers, the A&E reality series followi...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Is latest reboot a sign Hollywood is done remaking ’80s classics?

Is latest reboot a sign Hollywood is done remaking ’80s classics?

Here's some shocking news: The latest TV reboot from Hollywood ISN'T from the '80s. It's from – gasp! – the 1990s. Deadline.com reports that Party of Five is up next for a re-imagining.Party of Five, which ran on Fox from 1994 to 2000, ce...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Nancy Pelosi is going to be a guest judge on 'RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars'

Nancy Pelosi is going to be a guest judge on 'RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars'

She might be more familiar with democracy, but top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi is soon going to show her expertise on a certain kind of monarchy: The California congresswoman is slated to appear as a guest judge on RuPaul’s drag-queen competiti...
Published: 01/18/18
Voodoo Doughnut opening at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk this spring

Voodoo Doughnut opening at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk this spring

Get ready for Old Dirty Bastards, Grape Apes and Voodoo Doll rolls. Voodoo Doughnut is coming to CityWalk at Universal Orlando this spring.The now iconic doughnut shop was created by Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson and Tres Shannon in Portland, Ore. in 20...
Published: 01/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Steve Martin and Martin Short: The longtime actor-comedians and frequent collaborators present, An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life, featuring Martin’s bluegrass band, the Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko. 7 p.m., Mahaffey Theater...
Published: 01/18/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Published: 01/18/18
Gary Allan replaces DNCE as Florida Strawberry Festival’s opening night headliner

Gary Allan replaces DNCE as Florida Strawberry Festival’s opening night headliner

Got a concert crisis on your hands? Call Gary Allan.A couple of years ago, the country singer was a last-minute replacement for Kenny Rogers at Busch Gardens' Food and Wine Festival. Now he's doing the same favor for the Florida Strawberry Festival.N...
Published: 01/18/18