What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that even though former Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens are in Spring Breakers, it's absolutely not appropriate for teens. This is a hard-R film from controversial director Harmony Korine (Kids), and it explores the naivete of college students who expect spring break to be an otherworldy, life-changing experience. There's constant, overt sexuality (including three-way sex scenes and lots of toplessness), substance abuse (mostly marijuana and cocaine), swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and much more), and violence. People die from being shot and are injured with bullet wounds. Underage men and women are arrested and indulge in sexual acts with strangers they've just met. Bottom line? Every terrible thing that a parent could imagine happening during spring break is unflinchingly on display in this envelope-pushing satire of teen comedies.
What's the story?
College party girls Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and their straight-edge best friend Faith (Selena Gomez) are desperate to make it to Florida for spring break. When they realize they're low on funds, the wilder trio decides to rob a restaurant with ski masks and squirt guns. Now flush with cash, the girls head down to the sunny beaches of St. Petersburg, Fla., where the SPRING BREAKERS are letting loose with a seemingly never-ending supply of liquor, drugs, and promiscuity. During a particularly hedonistic room party toward the end of their trip, the girls -- now broke again -- get arrested and are subsequently bailed out by Alien (James Franco), a local drug gangsta with a gold grill and a serious adoration of Scarface. While he doesn't demand that the girls do anything specific in return for his help, Faith gets a bad feeling and flees, while the other girls stick around and delve even deeper into a world of crime and debauchery.
Is it any good?
Director Harmony Korine (Kids) can't seem to help but push buttons, cross boundaries, and generally make his audiences ridiculously uncomfortable with realistically graphic scenes of adolescent sex and substance abuse. For adult viewers, the movie's salacious close ups of bouncing breasts and gyrating bikini bottoms, the repetitive scenes, and the general plotlessness make sense, because Spring Breakers is ultimately poking fun at the misguided nature of the spring break party scene and the college kids who think this that a week of booze, booty, and getting high is what they're meant to experience -- and what they deserve.
But teens -- who may well be drawn to the movie by the idea of Disney starlets doing their version of "Girls Gone Wild" (Gomez less shockingly than Hudgens, who's startlingly sexual as wicked Candy) -- won't necessarily understand the cliches that Korine is skewering. They'll be too distracted with the nonstop titillation (no matter how uncomfortable it is) to see the film for what it is -- a subversive treatise on the naivete and downright idiocy of this out-of-control rite of passage. The young actresses hold their own, but it's Franco who chews up the scenery with his hilarious minor kingpin who loves to shout "Look at my s--t!" and sing "Spring break, spring break, spring break forever!" Adults able to deal with the movie's carnal excess will be able to see its clever messages, but if an audience just wants to see breasts and beer and coke-snorting, then they've proved Korine's point.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families whose teens do see Spring Breakers may want to discuss how it portrays teenage sexuality and substance abuse. What message is it intending to send? Do you think that message gets through to teen viewers?
What do you think of Hudgens and Gomez starring in this film when they still have tween and young teen fans? Does it change how you think of them as actresses? Do you think actresses who start out acting in kids' programming have a responsibility to be careful with their career choices?
What alternatives are there to the "booze and booty"-filled spring break scene? Talk about some guidelines for high school and college spring break trips -- and real-life cases of spring breaks going terribly wrong.