By Steve Persall
Times Movie Critic
What James Franco's zoned-out character Alien says (usually unprintable) and does (often criminal) in Spring Breakers might be imitated by rowdies anywhere there's a beach, bikinis and big booties, y'all.
Where he does it with the posterity that movies bestow is here. Just like in Dolphin Tale, Magic Mike and Cocoon, local audiences will recognize lots of locations around St. Petersburg, Tampa and Sarasota in Spring Breakers, filmed here in 2012 by writer-director Harmony Korine.
Keep in mind that Hollywood often employs free-form geography. Sharp-eyed locals will notice the young women Alien takes under his skeevy wing hail from an unidentified college north of Florida (but filmed in Sarasota), crossing the Sunshine Skyway bridge to reach "St. Petersburg," a community stretching all the way to Tampa and Bradenton, patrolled by St. Pete Beach police cars using Gulfport's jail.
It's enough to make you dizzy, or maybe that's just a contact high from Korine's ambitiously amoral movie. Here's a guide to sort out what's where:
Ringling College of Art and Design, New College, both in Sarasota:
Characters played by Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine sure are dumb for literally attending two colleges. Classroom and dormitory interiors were filmed at Ringling, along with most outdoor campus shots. New College's campus was used for a short nighttime stroll, with identifying lamppost banners briefly glimpsed.
B & M Country Cooking, St. Petersburg:
Spring break road trips cost money, which the girls obtain armed with water pistols and a sledgehammer, robbing this Lealman district diner that's supposedly out of state.
The Molloy, Treasure Island:
The girls check into this mom-and-pop motel on Gulf Boulevard, spending introspective moments between binges floating in the swimming pool out back.
Coral Reef Motel, St. Pete Beach:
Party central for the Spring Breakers crowd. But don't try to crash it because the building was abandoned before filming began, and the pool is still owned by the Coral Reef Resort next door.
Behind the Undertow Beach Bar, St. Pete Beach:
We get our first look at Alien while he and real-life St. Pete rapper Dangeruss perform Hangin' wit da Dopeboys at a beach concert. Instant Alien catchphrase: "Bikinis and big booties, y'all. That's what spring break is all about!"
Sunshine Discount Food and Gift Corner, St. Pete Beach:
Things begin turning dark when the girls enthusiastically recount their robbery experience in this market's parking lot. You can spot the landmark Twistee Treat ice cream stand in the background and Wings beach shop across the street.
Gulfport Police Department, Gulfport:
After one hotel party goes too far, the girls are busted and briefly detained inside this facility. The securely enclosed parking lot is where they meet Alien and his blinged-up sports car after he bails them out.
Lake Maggiore Park, St. Petersburg:
Alien lays out his drug-thug philosophy of life to the girls at a shelter in this recreation area.
Hollywood Nites, Tampa:
This bootylicious strip club on N Howard Avenue is where Alien tries showing the girls a good time, and tempers flare with his drug dealing rival Archie, played by rap musician Gucci Mane. Remember the roadhouse scene in National Lampoon's Animal House? Maybe you should before visiting.
Ninth Street Pool Hall, St. Petersburg:
Formerly located at 1149 Martin Luther King St. S but closed now. This is the joint where Gomez's character gets skittish about Alien and his intimidating friends.
Private Residence, Crystal Beach:
Located just a few blocks off Crystal Beach Avenue, this waterfront home serves as Alien's crib, complete with a piano on the patio on which he serenades the girls with a Britney Spears song and later composes a dirge for their relationship. Inside is where Franco takes off on a memorable rant, urging the girls to appreciate everything he owns.
Private residence, Pinellas Point:
Formerly owned by pro baseball player Gary Sheffield, this luxurious St. Petersburg waterfront mansion belongs to Archie in the movie, and is the scene of its ballistic climax.
Keep your eyes peeled for cameo appearances in Spring Breakers by: Whitfield Estates Presbyterian Church in Sarasota; Sun Country Cleaners on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg; a courtroom in Bradenton; the Redington Long Pier in Redington Beach; and an arcade, alleyway and room at the Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach during a robbery montage.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow him on Twitter @StevePersall.