Breaking the Barrier with "Spring Breakers"

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Four college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson & Rachel Korine) land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation, only to find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer (James Franco) who wants them to do some dirty work.
Photo Credit: Muse Productions
September 17th, 2012

Breaking the Barrier with "Spring Breakers"

-- Fans may still think of Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as the pretty, young actresses who first made it big in Disney productions, but their latest film is a far cry from "High School Musical." Their newest movie, "Spring Breakers," focuses on their attempt, along with a couple of friends, to have a spring break to remember. At first glance, it sounds innocuous enough. After all, spring break is an age-honored tradition. How bad could it get?

Gomez portrays the role of Faith, a confirmed party girl with a small problem; she has more than a few Christian beliefs and a conscience to boot. Still, she has managed to remain close to three friends since kindergarten, despite the fact they have strayed far from her own straight and narrow path. Together, the four are desperate to get out of town for spring break but lack the financial resources to make the trip. They come up with the idea of robbing a Chicken Shack while wearing pink ski masks and wielding fake guns in order to get the cash they need. Although Faith (Gomez) experiences some discomfort with the idea, she nonetheless goes along with it as they make their way to Florida and split the proceeds of the robbery.

The girls manage to accomplish their goals complete with plenty of booty shaking, pot smoking, nudity, coke snorting, and overall debauchery. Their plans go awry, however, when they manage to get themselves hauled into jail after they are arrested in a drug bust at a party. Once behind bars, they are forced to call upon a corn-rowed, grill wearing, tattooed gangster to bail them out of the slammer.

Judging from the response at the film's premier in early September, fans apparently love James Franco's portrayal of the gangster to the rescue, particularly his penchant for rapping Britney Spears. Backed by a heavy bass soundtrack complete with tunes courtesy of Nicki Minaj and a score completed by Skrillex, the movie will certainly be a hit if for no other reason than its music.

If Gomez manages to pull off a role that differs largely from her typical parts, her co-star Vanessa Hudgens takes it to an entirely new level. Coke, pot, guns, three-ways and bi are just a few eye-openers awaiting Hudgens fans in "Spring Breakers." When Hudgens was asked about her departure from typical family-friendly roles in the new film, she simply stated that at times it is nice to be able to transform and push yourself.

For her part, Gomez has warned her younger fans that the film is not for them. She has stated she is thankful for the Disney roles that eventually led to her stardom but has stressed it was time to branch out.

Writer and director Harmony Korine spent years collecting a small horde of photos of spring break. The basic premise behind the film was to tell the story of a new, stylized generation and their spring break experience.

That led to Korine breaking his own set rules and ultimately sending in an idea for the film first rather than the script. When James Franco, who appears as the corn-row wearing gangster of the film, received the idea by email from Korine, he instantly decided he was in. In order to prepare for his upcoming role, Franco even spent time with a local who goes only by the name Dangerous.

Voice-over is used heavily in the film while dialogue and images are repeated, to create an overall effect that is somewhat obsessive. With candy color washes, splashes of neon, and even pink skies, the film is somewhat reminiscent of a hallucinogenic dream on acid.

Will Faith manage to hang on to any of her Christian principles, or will she find herself lured into a den of hedonistic abandon? To give away that answer would be to give away a large portion of the film, but it is safe to say that viewers may well be shocked and somewhat comforted at the same time.

While it remains to be seen whether the film will be a hit or a miss, the biggest question regarding the film appears to be whether fans of Hudgens and Gomez will be able to accept such a dramatic departure from their typical girl-next-door personas. "Spring Breakers" premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The film also stars Ashley Benson as Brit and Rachel Korine as Cotty. Korine is the wife of the film's writer and director.