From the opening slow-motion shot of teens partying and drinking in the sun and sand in their swimwear, Spring Breakers might seem like a typical teen party movie -- or, with the women flashing their breasts, a Girls Gone Wild video.  But despite the repeated shots of spring break hedonism, and the notoriety of several ex-Disney stars as sexy bad girls, Spring Breakers proves to be a memorable, surprisingly moving film.
In a dreary unnaned college, everyone is dreaming of spring break.  For religions Faith (Selena Gomez), it's a chance for a change, to see and experience something new.  For her friends Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson), and Cotty (Rachel Korine), it seems to be a chance for more of the partying they enjoy in their dorms.  When the women don't have enough money for the trip Candy, Brit and Cotty rob a restaurant with mallets and spray-painted squirt guns.  Then it's on to Florida to party!

At first, spring break seems like a dream come true, from riding mopeds and hanging out to massive drinking and more drugs tna before (now it's not just weed -- it's coke). But a party the girls are at gets busted, and they wind up in jail.

Enter Alien (James Franco, unrecognizable with metal teeth, corn rows and tattoos), who bails the girls out.  Alien is seductive, dangerous presence in the vacation.  With a seductive southern drawl and careers as a rapper, DJ, and drug dealer, he seems to be the thrills and dangers the girls were after.  He describes himself as having the American Dream -- and having broken every law there is to get it.  His home is an extravagant mix of art, cash, drugs, and guns, and he seems to be living in a state of permanent vacation.  (Often through the movie his voiceover proclaims "Spring break... spring break forever.")  He even has a nemesis in Archie (Gucci Mane), a fellow drug dealer and former brother, current enemy.  What does he want with the girls -- and what do they want with him?

Spring Breakers is an unusual movie, with few long shots and many cuts of flashbacks, slow-motion, or other breaks from standard movies (or reality).  While sometimes the scenes are obvious (like the justaposition of teen hedonism with Faith's innocent description to her grandmother), others are original and striking, from the robbery shown from the point-of-view of the getaway car circling the building, to girls in pink ski masks and holding rifles to a piano version of a Britney Spears song.  Writer-director Harmony Korine has a created a vacation world that may appeal to thrill-seeking teens -- and which will terrify their parents.  The women all do well in their roles -- from innocent to wannabe gangsta to truly dangerous -- but Franco steals the show as the serpent in paradise, offering escape and pleasure and peril.

Spring Breakers may look like a typical beach movie at first, but once you get past the bikinis and partying it proves to be an original and pretty powerful movie.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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