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Spring Breakers

Well, count me among the group that feels that Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” finally just runs out of steam. I like it enough and all, but it has garnered an extraordinary amount of effusive praise since opening earlier this year. Am I missing something? I mean, it certainly appears to me that Manohla Dargis from the New York Times is all but ready to place it in her top ten films of 2013. Is it that good, or are some critics going out of their way to applaud Mr. Korine for finally helming something that they didn’t find outright awful, after breaking through with his screenplay for “Kids” almost two decades ago? We’re not going to anoint Harmony an auteur now, are we? It seems it would be somewhat disingenuous, because this could just be a one-shot. “Spring Breakers” is good, but is it really that good?

Four pretty college girls(Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel “yes, he’s my husband” Korine)don’t have enough cash for a Florida spring break, so they decide to put on ski masks and rob a local restaurant. So, after their very first criminal venture they are loaded with expendable dough—and soon bus it to St. Petersburg and get involved in every type of reckless partying imaginable. Along with hordes of wild vacationing students, the girls drink, smoke pot, snort coke, engage in sexual activity and finally trash a rented room. This last act gets a bunch of them thrown in jail—including our “heroines”. They are eventually bailed out by a stranger named Alien(a wild, invigorating, almost unrecognizable James Franco), a Florida gangsta rapper, who quickly pulls the young ladies even deeper into a life of crime.

Yes, I get it. There’s social commentary here and a raw naturalism that makes a lot of critics go “wow”. The film skewers this kind of lifestyle pretty darn well, but the scenes depicting the frivolity do get a bit repetitive. Didn’t I see a condensed version of this behavior in the recent remake of “Pirahna”? I got the idea then, and I still understand it now. These kids act craaaaazzzyyyy. Okay, okay, you’ve made it clear already. When a couple of the girls make calls back home describing the “good, clean fun” they’re having, it’s palpable to ponder how many of these real-life kids dupe their unsuspecting parents. And Franco is a trip in an atypical role for him. There’s frank sexuality and simulated fellatio, and it turns all violent and bloody and cautionary before long. It’s a comeback, I guess, for Harmony Korine. But you can count me in the camp that finds the girls performances interchangeable and the enthusiastic praise going a bit too far. Sorry.     Grade:  B

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