The Big Screen: 'Spring Breakers' exposes tribulations of youth

By Kevin VaughnApril 6, 2013 

Director Harmony Korine may be one of the most difficult filmmakers to follow.

Whether it be his writing debut with "Kids," which told the story about sexually promiscuous drug-addled children in 1990s New York City, or his feature debut about trailer park misery in "Gummo," even for the art crowd he is a hard voice to swallow.

"Spring Breakers" is his first foray into the "mainstream," although the film tries at every turn to break out of that barrier. It also marks the beginning of very adult roles for Disney kid stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. For all involved, it's a wonderful stray.

From the premise, "Spring Breakers" sounds like a ladies version of "Project X," the trailer touts bikini-clad girls romping around the beach.

It is complete and utter chaos, but it is sugary candy-colored chaos.

College best friends Candy (Hudgens), Faith (Gomez), Brit and Cotty decide to rob a fried- chicken joint to fund a trip to Tampa, Fla., for spring break. From the start, we are in for a wild trashy ride.

In Tampa, they meet Alien (James Franco), a drug-dealing gangster with a silver tooth and corn rows.

Franco's performance is electric, rarely is he afforded roles that let him act so freely.

He takes Alien into every direction possible.

When he isn't at war with his drug lord enemies, he is belting out Britney Spears ballads on the piano while the ladies dance in bikinis with alien masks and AK-47s.

There is depth to his performance, in what could've been a one-dimensional character, Alien is dangerous but Franco plays him like a little poodle trying to imitate a Rottweiler.

And I think that's a perfect summary of the film. On the surface, it's a simple exercise in teenage debauchery. Dig a little deeper and it presents a sordid tale of the confusion of figuring out what it means to be a young adult.

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