Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2012. Muse Productions, Division Films, O’ Salvation, Iconoclast, MJZ, RabbitBandini Productions. Screenplay by Harmony Korine. Cinematography by Benoit Debie. Produced by Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Jordan Gertner, Chris Hanley, David Zander. Music by Cliff Martinez, Skrillex. Production Design by Elliott Hostetter. Costume Design by Heidi Bivens. Film Editing by Douglas Crise. Independent Spirit Awards 2013. New York Film Critics Awards 2013. Toronto International Film Festival 2012. Washington Film Critics Awards 2013.
College is boring and the north is drab; what could possibly be better than heading to the Sunshine State for Spring Break? Even better, get your adrenaline going by pulling off a fast-food robbery when you and your friends realize that there isn’t enough money to get you there! Four young ladies illegally amass their dough and head to Florida where tanned bodies and explosively promiscuous behavior abound under tropical conditions, and the times are so good that they do not want them to end. For the most proper of the bunch (Selena Gomez), turning over to unbridled desires is easy enough until they hook up with a metal-toothed rapper/drug dealer (James Franco) and he suddenly has them surrounded by far shadier individuals than they originally met. For Gomez, this constitutes the point where the visit to Pinocchio’s island has turned them all into donkeys, but the other three only see more opportunity in the venture and decide to stay with him. Pretty soon they are all loading up their weapons and unleashing their adolescent rage on the locals, the whole time looking fabulous in their tiny neon bikinis. It’s hard to say where Harmony Korine is going with this one; there is neither enough glee in the nihilism nor enough judgment on the bad behavior to say that it is either an unapologetic indulgence or an eye-opening expose. It’s the kind of film that allows the fantasy of excess without getting any hands dirty, ogling young naked flesh while at the same time feeling morally superior to it. I’ll leave the ethical conversations to people more invested in having them, since for me the film is a dragged-out bore that overkills its few plot points and stretches a minor story out to feature length with very little energy or charisma (despite the attempt at irony, it’s hardly above the experience of watching The Real Cancun). Franco’s one-note performance is a joke that stops being funny after his first scene, and after that both he and the screaming, opaquely drawn female characters become tiresome.