Spring Breakers is the type of movie we usually would ignore at Parent Previews. After all, the majority of families reading our reviews already know an R-rated movie stuffed to the credit roll with sex, drugs and violence isn’t suitable for kids. However Spring Breakers is a little different than the many college-themed clones that have preceded it. And that’s because it stars teen favorites Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez in a script that has absolutely nothing in common with the franchises that made these girls household names (High School Musical and Wizards of Waverly Place).
Opening with a wild montage of spring break images—mainly a Florida beach covered in topless women, drooling guys and streaming booze—the shred of story begins further north with the lives of four young college women stuck with nothing to do during the holiday. Faith, Brit, Candy and Cotty (Gomez, Ashley Benson, Hudgens and Rachel Korine) can’t stand being cooped up while there is so much world to see. Yet they don’t have enough money to get the four of them to the land of white sand. It seems the only alternative is to rob a restaurant, which the girls (minus Faith) do with the fearless perspective of, “It’s like playing a video game.”
While Faith (a professed Christian struggling to keep on the straight and narrow) doesn’t participate in the burglary, she still merrily joins the group. Her pals don’t fill her in on the violent cash grab until after their arrival in Florida. By that time she has bought into the thrill of the sunshine, booze, drugs, parties and lewd behavior that frames the iconic spring break experience.
Not surprisingly all the romping and snorting leads to the quartet being arrested when the local cops raid a party that is turning a hotel into a demolition zone. Appearing before the judge in their bikinis, the girls manage to escape drug charges because they don’t have any illegal substances on their persons (one of the benefits of being nearly nude). However they are still guilty of mischief and put in jail because they can’t pay their fines. (That’s the downside to having no pockets).
Little do these innocents know that they are being watched in court by a guy called Alien (James Franco). Recognizing a good deal when he sees it, he puts up the dollars to buy the bikini club their freedom. And oh so foolishly, they hop into his car and let the predator begin to direct their lives. Only after a discussion that details some sexual fantasies does Faith’s slightly more sensitive conscience prompt her to decide she’s done with spring break and beg her captor for release. Amazingly Alien concedes and Faith gets on the bus for home. Meanwhile the others eagerly become his three amigos in drugs, sex and crime, which result in further violent and bloody confrontations involving guns.
With restrictive ratings in the U.S. and Canada, Spring Breakers will be slightly difficult for pre-adults to access—that is until it releases to home video. Then its siren call of stylish editing, use of contemporary music and chic cinematography will mix with this story of good-girls-gone-bad to attract many who are curious about seeing former Disney stars in a state of drugged undress. So let me save you some time and money—neither Gomez or Hudgens are seen with explicit nudity, however they are in the minority. Dozens of other “extras” swarm the beaches and parties in topless reveling. Booze and drugs literally pour across their flesh and, after our story moves from the beach into Alien’s pimped out crib, blood replaces the liquor as the three remaining women join their protector in a crime rampage. Many other scenes feature drug use, including toy water guns filled with some substance that is ingested either by sucking on the barrel or by squirting it into people’s mouths.
Some critics are swooning over this movie’s artistic merits. Parents, on the other hand, won’t be fooled by the eye candy. Instead, they will need to be prepared to explain—yet again—why their kids should avoid seeing their childhood icons depicting the most deplorable of adult behaviors.