Is Spring Breakers About More Than “Big Booties and Bikinis”?

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 17 2013 2:22 PM

Trailer Critic: Spring Breakers

Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine in Spring Breakers.
Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine in Spring Breakers.

© 2012 - Muse Productions

The new trailer for Spring Breakers, the most SEO-friendly movie of the year, is anything but boring. Exploitative? Maybe, with starlets including Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens somehow finding a way to spend every scene—whether on the beach or appearing before the court—in a skimpy bikini. Stylish? Extremely, with an all-neon look—including the latest Enter the Void-style credits—that makes Magic Mike look drab. Brilliant? Or just trashy? That, as with so many of director Harmony Korine’s films, including 2009’s Trash Humpers, is still up for debate. For Korine, walking the line between art and trash often seems to be the point.

There is, at least, a little more to the plot than just beach-town debauchery. The wild ride begins when our bikini-clad heroes realize they don’t have the money for the spring break of their dreams, so they do as any needy college babes would do, of course: They rob a bank. While blowing their haul on their spree through St. Petersburg (“spring break forever!”), they have a run-in with the law, and a gold-toothed gangster named Alien (James Franco—who else?) comes to the rescue. But is he there to take advantage of them, or just show them a good time?

Franco delivers most of the trailer’s real gems, all of which are punctuated by either “y’all” or “yo.” “You can change who you are, yo,” he promises the vixens. “This is the American dream, y’all!” It’s both hilarious and grating, which is presumably exactly what Korine was aiming for.

Spring Breakers looks most reminiscent of another Korine-penned partier, Larry Clark’s 1995 movie Kids. That movie, which didn’t flinch at depicting young teens having sex, doing drugs, and getting into just about every other kind of trouble imaginable, became one of the most controversial movies of the ’90s. Spring Breakers seems directed at provoking a similar stir, especially in casting former child stars. (When Gomez and Hutchens break out into an impromptu “…Baby One More Time” in the trailer’s kicker, it’s a likely reference to how they, like Britney, are both Disney Channel alums.) That said, it’s worth remembering that these aren’t kids anymore: They’re young women with machine guns.

There’s a line towards the beginning of the trailer, in which Alien declares, “Bikinis and big booties, y’all, that’s what life is about!” I’ll wait to decide for myself whether the movie is about anything more, but this dazzling trailer has me looking forward to it.

Previously from the Trailer Critic:
Pacific Rim
Man of Steel
Star Trek Into Darkness
World War Z
House of Cards
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Oz: The Great and Powerful

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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