What’s a cute-as-a-button teen actress supposed to do when she grows out of the roles and cheerleader outfits that made her famous? There’s always the real-life meltdown option (Hi Lindsay! Hey Britney!), though the safer path is to let your wild side loose on screen.
And who do you call to expedite your cinematic deflowering? Why, Harmony Korine, the enfant terrible (though let’s drop that tag now, given that he’s 40) who wrote Kids for Larry Clark and directed Gummo and Mister Lonely.
Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place), and Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars) are the unlikely stars of Spring Breakers, alongside Korine’s wife Rachel — who though 26 years old could pass, somewhat troublingly, for 17 — playing four renegade college girls who rob a chicken shop to pay for a trip to Florida for the annual student migration.
Anyone who’s seen MTV’s Geordie Shore (the Cancun series. No, just us?) or Channel 4’s What Happens in Kavos will know the gist of what spring break is about: neon swimwear, jiggling flesh, hell-sent club anthems, drinks consumed through hoses. In short: virtually everything an ex-Disney princess could dream of.
Hudgens, Gomez and gang duly snort, cavort and gyrate their way through the movie, all the while reminding us — out loud — that this is the kind of spiritual odyssey of which the American dream is made.
They do have names (Candy? Mandy? Mitzy?) and vague back stories (one loves Jesus!), but given that the camera consistently drifts from their faces to their nubile munchkin bodies, let’s just say that authentic characterisation was never a priority here.
But whoa! Who’s this?! Why, it’s a rapper/drug dealer called Alien (played by James Franco, in cornrows and a dental grill) whose arrival in the movie is the cue for everything to go a bit wrong, and brilliantly silly.
To tell you what happens next is superfluous partly because it would spoil it, but mostly because the plot is so daft that it seems unlikely anyone involved was taking it seriously, so why should we?
Essentially, Spring Breakers is a sordid satire of the kind of coming-of-age movie that Disney princesses make when they want to grow up.
Britney Spears’ Crossroads comes to mind, and she is very much the patron saint of this film — referenced several times and indirectly responsible for one awesomely stupid/funny musical number. Go and see it if you’re prepared to embrace its wilful inanity, or if you’ve got a Gabriella Montez* crush you just can’t shake.
*Hopefully this is not a reference you will get.
Out April 5