Like countless frat boys before, Harmony Korine came to Tampa Bay for a spring break bacchanal, got what he wanted and now barely remembers who we are.
Korine wrote and directed Spring Breakers, a Day-Glo fantasia of sex, drugs and EDM making St. Petersburg appear like an epicenter of decadence. James Franco plays a cornrowed, rapping drug dealer, with former Disney starlets Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens falling under his seamy-seductive spell. Their presence made the movie's production, mostly in Pinellas County, one of the top entertainment stories locally in 2012.
Yet on the Blu-ray version of Spring Breakers debuting July 9, Tampa Bay's involvement is hardly noted among the disc's special features, while Daytona Beach and Panama City Beach are the subjects of featurettes spotlighting their reputations as spring break destinations. Even Atlanta gets more notice in the bonus materials, with a lengthy profile of the creepy ATL Twins, who played small roles in the movie.
To be fair, Korine didn't design the Blu-ray's special features package. However, he was fully in control of a director's commentary track only slightly less neglectful of Tampa Bay's involvement. Korine doesn't even pay much attention to St. Petersburg rapper Dangeruss, who inspired Franco's portrayal and participates in several scenes.
"I think a lot of this came from hanging around Dangeruss," Korine says during a Franco monologue, without explaining who Dangeruss is on the first reference. Unfamiliar viewers probably will wonder what dangerous thing Franco hung around. Later the filmmaker says "that's Dangeruss" but doesn't explain who he is, or what he meant to the movie.
Korine's most detailed comments about Tampa Bay locations he used are reserved for seedier locales. He loved the strip club Hollywood Nites — "a shake joint we found right outside of Tampa" — comparing the club's interior where dancers strut their stuff to a cockfighting pen. He describes Lake Maggiore Park as being "kind of a sketchy area," where a dead body was discovered before filming, and maybe a finger during the shoot. St. Petersburg's former Ninth Street Pool Hall was one of Korine's favorite locations, with "a more scary, authentic" vibe of pit bulls and pot smoke.
Not exactly bulletin board material for chambers of commerce.
A few choice nuggets emerge from Korine's commentary, that the Highwaymen's Florida landscape paintings were used as references for some Spring Breakers images, and extras hired for party scenes at the Coral Reef Hotel were steadily nauseous ("I think they ate 10,000 pizzas. Everyone was puking out in the sun."). Korine also recalls watching a one-armed fisherman at 3 a.m. on Redington Long Pier trying to haul in a 200-pound shark.
Mostly, his Spring Breakers commentary offers Korine stating the obvious ("We shot this with an underwater camera," he says, when the lens dips below a swimming pool's surface) and neglecting to thank his hosts. Just like any other frat boy brushing off a one night stand. He didn't even take us to breakfast.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.