5 Non-Pervy Reasons To See Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers3 5 Non Pervy Reasons To See Spring Breakers

On the surface, Spring Breakers is some kind of gross wet dream for dudes salivating over the idea of former Disney Channel stars starring in a super raunchy movie when they reach the age where they’re old enough to do so. Because of this, it’s a movie to treat with some caution. If you decide to see it, maybe during a matinee showing, I would recommend keeping distance away from any old lonely guys you share the theater with. You know, just to be on the safe side. It’s a safe bet that they’re there for a fairly specific reason and it’s less likely that they’re Harmony Korine fans and more likely that they’re huge fans of being generally disgusting people.

Don’t let this deter you! Spring Breakers is one hell of a movie. It defies easy categorization or explanation, and it has had people talking about it since it came out weeks ago. It may be the most talked about movie of the year so far, which isn’t saying much given that it’s not even May yet. It will most likely be surpassed in the weeks ahead. Then again, maybe not. I haven’t felt this oddly compelled by a film since Drive.

Here are 5 things about Spring Breakers that make it at minimum worth seeing, at best maybe brilliant. They are meant to be reasons that will appeal to your brain rather than your penis.

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1) The music and general tone of the thing are really fun

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Spring Breakers has more in common with The Tree of Life than with Superbad. That’s something that should be understood up front. It also is completely different from either of those examples. It’s something of its own. Entirely. Anyone who’s seen it knows what I mean. It jumps around the chronological map, cutting scenes every which way, interspersing various lines and images from moments we’ve witnessed already or some we have yet to witness. It’s probably about as jarring to the linear mind as 3D is to the eyes, but like with 3D, you can get used to it after a while. And once you do, it really starts to pop.

The main aspect of the movie that jumps at you, though, is the soundtrack. From the opening shots, your ears are pounded with the sound of Skrillex accompanying these writhing images of bodies on a beach, gyrating in slowed down rhythms to make them look like grotesque dancers. The electronic sounds continue throughout thanks to music from Cliff Martinez, who wrote the fantastic score for Drive, with momentary Britney Spears interludes. In a bizarre way, it works, it pops. It jumps off the screen with life from start to finish, although it’s not the most pleasant life you’ll see represented on screen. Several critics have also noted that any time you feel like you’re starting to be drawn in to the world of these characters, the structure of the movie keeps you at an arm’s length. You are meant to observe this, not to revel in it. To think critically. This is unmistakable and makes the whole thing far more interesting and makes you feel less guilty for enjoying it.

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2) It has inspired some smart and interesting debate material

Spring Breakers 5 Non Pervy Reasons To See Spring Breakers

There remains a lot of disagreement and dispute revolving around a number of aspects of Spring Breakers. There’s talk about the extent to which we’re supposed to judge or pity or criticize or sympathize with these characters, and I’ll touch on that a bit later. One feature that has received its share of attention is the rather risqué roles being taken on by these former child stars. It seems like the prevailing conclusion on this is that it contributes to the thematic crux of the movie, playing into the criticism of the American Dream run amok. If Alien’s dream come true is disturbing and unsatisfying, presumably this is also true for child stars who grow up.

Others have pointed to the racial dimension of the movie, casting Gucci Mane as the antagonist gangster to James Franco’s more central criminal figure. It would seem they identify the black gangsters as being a reductive representation of crime in general, with these white girls being depicted as descending into Black America as symbolic of their fall from grace. There’s some merit to these points, but ultimately they seem to rely on James Franco’s identity as a “wanna-be black man” which is disregarding the backstory and primary motivation of that character altogether. It’s easy to slip into these complicated topics after seeing Spring Breakers, which is a testament to the surprisingly complex layering within the story and its storytelling.

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3) The words and images will stick with you

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This is likely true whether you want it to be or not. Spring Breakers is an incessantly quotable movie. Part of this is owing to the droning voiceovers that are repeated again and again, characters saying these lines that we hear in different ways and in different contexts with different intonations throughout. Basically anything Alien says is memorable, but the principal voiceover is delivered in the latter half of the movie a few times. Anyone who has seen the movie can hear Franco saying it in their heads. “Spraangggg braaaaaake.”

Some have gone as far as to liken Alien’s bizarre monologue, imploring his new soulmates to “look at ma’ sh*t” as he tours them around his crib. It’s a crazy scene, and he delivers it with such energy and exuberance that we are really close to getting sucked into his strange world. But again, we’re not allowed to revel. This is punctuated by the messed up scene that follows, involving a gun and somebody’s mouth. It’s such a striking contrast and eerie echo that makes it hard to forget. As hard as I may like, I can’t stop myself from saying “Spring break forever, bitches!” at every opportunity and I’m not at all proud of it. I shouldn’t even be admitting this in print. I ought to delete this whole thing right now.

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4) It blurs the line between exploitation and deconstruction

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That’s the description Village Voice writer Scott Foundas gave to Spring Breakers, and it encapsulated perhaps what I enjoyed most about the movie. A lot is made out of TV shows and some movies that have come out recently that play with the whole notion of what is real versus what only exists in the mind of the character on the screen. Louie explores this a lot. A second season episode of Girls sparked some debate over whether Hannah’s fling with an older man actually happened or not. There’s a couple of scenes in The Master where it seems like things are happening merely in the mind of the Joaquin Phoenix character but it’s hard to know for sure.

This not knowing is kind of exciting. It’s not just the intrigue that comes from not wanting to know one way or the other, because that can be a thrilling part of watching movies that confuse reality with fantasy. But it’s also in the details that make it hard to determine what’s real or what’s not—the nature of the worlds we’re dealing in that make this distinction virtually impossible to discern. That’s the kind of ambiguity that TV often gets praised for but for some reason movies tend to be more coldly received when they try things this bold. But it’s also the type of ambiguities we face in life all the time, when something can seem like two antithetical things at once, and can be thought of as both or neither just as easily. Sorry, but I dig that sort of thing being depicted in stuff I watch.

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5) James Franco is off the f’ing chain

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You could say James Franco’s performance as the character named Alien is out of this world! But if you did, you could also get strangled because that’s a stupid joke that deserves severe punishment. He’s seriously on another level in this movie though, and it will be interesting to see what sort of credit he ends up getting for it. It’s not the type of role that has traditionally garnered serious attention, but after Matthew McConaughey’s well-deserved praise for Magic Mike, odd roles like Alien are getting looked at in a serious way more now than ever.

There’s a lot of reaction to be had towards Spring Breakers: enjoyment, disgust, outrage, contemplation. It has inspired some really fascinating criticisms and some terrific intellectual defenses. Plenty of people just think it’s dumb and they have every reason to, really. Others think it’s one of the smartest movies of the year. It’s a bore and a revelation, a snoozefest and a mind-blowing experience. What seems to be the conclusion from all these disparate reaction is that it’s impossible to pin down as one particular thing. To me, that’s really cool. And for those just looking for something to polish their flagpole to, it can be that too I guess. But there’s a lot more to it than sour eye candy.

Do you have any opinions on Spring Breakers? Share them in the comments section below.

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  • Daniel

    this film is brilliant & probably doesn’t need to be praised quite so defensively. also the way this article is presented suggests it’s being written exclusively for straight males – not a good look if you’re trying not to be creepy about this film.

  • Ghoul

    …Still unconvinced. Because I hate Skrillex, James Franco, and if the most memorable line of the movie is the movie title, that’s really not saying much for the dialogue. Skip.

  • se123

    the movie flat out sucks…terrible pacing. I was very happy when it was over. It drags and drags and drags along. When you think it might become intersting or pick up a little, you will be mistaken. Spring Break in slow motion for the entier movie…what a great idea.