Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Harmony Korine|
|Written by||Harmony Korine|
|Edited by||Douglas Crise|
|Box office||$31.7 million|
Spring Breakers is a 2012 American crime film written and directed by Harmony Korine. It stars James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine and follows four college-aged girls on their spring break in Florida where they meet an eccentric local drug dealer named Alien who helps them in a time of desperation, and their eventual descent into a world of drugs, crime, and violence.
Korine had devised the concept for Spring Breakers over several years prior to production, with fleeting ideas about the plot and what should transpire. His initial desire was to create a "sensory film" that was more about feeling than action and placed little importance on narrative or plot, the idea for which came later. Once Korine developed the backbone of the story, which takes place around the American spring break period, he travelled to Florida to write the screenplay. Production began in 2012, on an estimated budget of $5 million–a relatively small amount in today's film industry, albeit Korine's second most expensive film to date. The film is also one of Korine's first theatrical works to receive a wide release.
Spring Breakers was released on March 22, 2013 in the United States by A24 and grossed $31 million worldwide, making it a resounding success considering the small budget. It received generally positive reviews from film critics, with some calling it a potential cult classic. The film was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival. Critics and scholars have read deeper meaning in the film's plot, commenting on its reflection of modern-day superficiality and the younger generation's obsession with highly stylised, disposable pop culture media and sensory ephemera. It ranks in BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century. A sequel, under the name of Spring Breakers: The Second Coming, was announced for an undated release. Jonas Åkerlund was confirmed to direct with Irvine Welsh penning the script, without the involvement of Korine or the original cast.
College students Brit, Candy, and Cotty spend their time partying while their friend Faith attends a religious youth group. As their classmates head to spring break, they are stuck behind due to a lack of money. Desperate to make the trip, Brit and Candy, after getting high on cocaine, don ski masks and use hammers and realistic-looking squirt guns to rob a local restaurant. They are assisted by Cotty, who drives (and later burns) the getaway car stolen from one of their professors.
In St. Petersburg, Florida, the girls attend wild beach parties fueled by alcohol, drugs and sex. Cotty, Candy and Brit divulge the details of their crime to a horrified Faith, who keeps quiet about it. After a particularly wild party, all four are arrested. They spend the night in a holding cell, but are bailed out by Alien, a local rapper and gangster. Alien charms Cotty, Candy and Brit with his wealth and "bad boy" swagger, but Faith feels uneasy.
Alien takes the girls to a local club frequented by gang members, where Faith becomes even more uncomfortable with his lifestyle. Despite Alien's attempts to convince her to stay, Faith decides to leave and begs the others to come with her. They refuse, however, and she makes the trip home alone. Alien takes the remaining girls to a strip club owned by his rival, Big Arch, who warns Alien to stop selling drugs in his territory. The girls return to Alien's mansion, where he flaunts his drug money and cache of weapons, describing his life as the "American Dream". Brit and Candy suddenly grab one of his guns and threaten to kill him; turned on, Alien fellates the gun and declares that he has fallen in love with the girls.
Alien arms the girls with pink ski masks and shotguns, and they perform several armed robberies. While in Alien's car they are approached by Big Arch and another member of his gang, who threaten them and execute a drive-by shooting, wounding Cotty. Alien promises to retaliate, but a traumatized Cotty chooses to return home. Brit and Candy stay behind and begin a sexual relationship with Alien. The three of them decide to take revenge on Big Arch. In a flashforward, the two girls call home, promising to work harder and become better people.
Back in the present, the three travel in a motorboat to Big Arch's mansion. After they dock at the pier, Alien is shot and killed by one of Big Arch's guards. Brit and Candy carry on, killing Big Arch's gang before confronting and killing Big Arch himself. During the assault and its aftermath, the camera pans over the dead bodies of Big Arch's gang while the girls speak in a voice-over, first heard earlier in the film, describing the beach's beauty and musing that they have discovered who they truly are. Brit and Candy, silent and wearing pensive, ambiguous expressions, drive home in Big Arch's Lamborghini. A final flashback shows the pair kissing Alien's dead body.
- James Franco as Alien, a drug dealer and rapper who takes the girls under his wing.
- Vanessa Hudgens as Candy, a party girl who is irresponsible and uncaring.
- Selena Gomez as Faith, a young-looking twenty-one-year-old who devotes her life to Christianity, but is also friends with party girls, Brit, Candy, and Cotty.
- Ashley Benson as Brit, who much like Candy, is irresponsible and uncaring.
- Rachel Korine as Cotty, a party girl who is a little more careful than Candy and Brit.
- Gucci Mane as Big Arch
- Heather Morris as Bess
- Jeff Jarrett as Youth Pastor
- Russell Stuart as DJ
According to Harmony Korine, he wrote the film partially to make up for his own spring breaks, as he had been fully devoted to skateboarding, and therefore missed out on what he saw as opportunities for hedonistic pursuits. Korine has referred to the film as a "beach noir". The original lineup of lead actresses was announced as Emma Roberts, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens. Director Korine had purposely collected a group of well-known young actresses with a similar reputation to Roberts in Hollywood. Ashley Benson was ultimately cast. The film was shot in March and April 2012 in and around St. Petersburg, Florida. The exterior shots and some interior shots of the college Selena Gomez's and Ashley Benson's characters attend were filmed at New College of Florida, while the dormitory and classroom shots were filmed at Ringling College of Art and Design..  Skrillex produced the film's score.
Korine announced in 2013 he planned to "remix" the film's unused footage and alternate takes into an entirely new cut.
A three-minute preview of Spring Breakers was released at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival in May 2012. The entire film premiered at the 69th Venice International Film Festival on September 4, 2012. The film was released in New York and Los Angeles on March 15, 2013. The film was released nationwide on March 22, 2013. The film had a limited release in the U.K. on April 5, 2013. The movie was also released in France on March 6, 2013 and was scheduled to be released in Australia in early March, however was pushed back to a release date of May 4.
On February 15, 2012, Korine contacted rapper Riff Raff about appearing in an upcoming film of his which would turn out to be Spring Breakers. Once the trailer was released there was speculation that the character Alien was based around Riff Raff. According to Franco, his character is based on the underground rap artist Dangeruss, who has a cameo in the film. "Of course Harmony and I looked at some of Riff Raff's videos as inspiration, but he was one of a number of people we looked at. I would say the biggest influence on the role was this local Florida rapper named Dangeruss. He's fairly unknown, but he was down there in the place, living the life, and he became the biggest model for me, and he's in the movie." After much back and forth between both camps about the issue, during July 2013 Riff Raff announced he was suing the creators of Spring Breakers for $10 million for "sampling" his life without his permission or a proper producer credit. However, a search for court documents by LA Weekly in September 2013 resulted in no findings.
Portrayal of women
Spring Breakers has generated debate and controversy among critics, with some regarding the film as sexist due to its objectification of women, while others viewed the film as a feminist or female empowerment film. In regard to the former perspective, The Guardian suggests that the film "reinforces rape culture" and "turns young women into sex objects", while other reviewers state that it "pushes booze-and-bikini hedonism to the extreme", as the "camera glides up, down and around these women's bodies like a giant tongue." According to Rolling Stone, the film presents "a kind of girl-power camaraderie that could almost be called feminist", a result of the director's intent to "do the most radical work, but put it out in the most commercial way (...) to infiltrate the mainstream". In his review of the film, Richard Roeper wrote "Korine's camera is nearly an intrusive weapon as he lingers over the soft, limber bodies of Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and his wife, Rachel Korine.... I think that's sort of the point. When a pre-med student on spring break loses her top, drinks to the point of passing out and grabs a willing lugnut by the ears for six hours of anonymous fun, is she setting the woman's movement back 40 years, or taking charge of her life like any man would do at that age?"
The film received generally favorable reactions from critics. The film holds a 67% approval rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 179 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Spring Breakers blends stinging social commentary with bikini cheesecake and a bravura James Franco performance." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating from film critics, it received a rating score of 63 out of 100 based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Xan Brooks of The Guardian said the film is Korine's "most fully realised, purely satisfying feature film since Gummo." Emma Seligman of The Huffington Post described the film as "Scarface meets Britney Spears." Oliver Lyttlelton of IndieWire gave the film a B, stating that the film would be a future cult favorite for "midnight moviegoers".
Guy Lodge of Variety gave it a negative review saying, "this attractively fizzy pic may be a shock to the system for fans of teen queens Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, but remains pretty toothless titillation by its writer-helmer's standards." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter noted that James Franco gives one of his more bizarre performances in his unpredictable career, saying "he's a cross between Bo Derek in 10 and Richard Kiel in Moonraker." Andrew Schenker of Slant Magazine gave the film 3 out of 4 stars. Jamie Dunn of The Skinny gave it 4 out of 5 stars, saying: "If Michael Mann was to take a lot of hallucinogenics and shoot a Girls Gone Wild video, it might look something like this." Richard Roeper gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, praising the character of Alien and the film's sense of humor.
Spring Breakers has since appeared on various retrospective "best of" lists, including one honouring the best films of the 21st century. In 2016, British film magazine Little White Lies placed the film at number 40 on their list of the 50 best films of the decade (so far). In August of that same year, BBC Magazine conducted a poll on the 21st century's 100 greatest films so far, with Spring Breakers ranking at number 74.
Top ten lists
Spring Breakers was listed on many critics' top ten lists for 2013.
- 1st – Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
- 2nd – Nigel M. Smith, Gabe Toro, & Katie Walsh, Indiewire
- 2nd – Cahiers du cinéma
- 4th – Ben Kenigsberg, The A.V. Club
- 6th – David Ehrlich, Film.com
- 6th – Gregory Ellwood, HitFix
- 7th – Drew McWeeny, Hitfix
- 8th – Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
- 8th – Kristopher Tapley, HitFix
- 8th – Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast
- 10th – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
- 10th – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
- Best of 2013 (listed alphabetically, not ranked) – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Spring Breakers grossed $14,124,284 in North America and $17,600,000 in other countries for a worldwide total of $31,724,284. In North America, the film opened to #6 in its first weekend with $4,858,944, behind The Croods, Admission, The Call, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Olympus Has Fallen.
Oscar campaign for James Franco
A24 Films began a campaign in September 2013 in support of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Franco's performance. This was preceded by the Hollywood.com website that produced a "For your consideration" poster in support of a nomination for Franco in March 2013. On December 2, 2013, A24 published a YouTube video titled "James Franco - Consider this Sh*t" and also released print advertisements following the "Consider this Sh*t" theme. Originally, Internet chatter considered the campaign a joke, but A24 has since made it clear that the campaign was indeed serious. He has received the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor (tied with Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, and San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, while the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association nominated Franco for its Best Supporting Actor award.
The film score to Spring Breakers was composed by Cliff Martinez and Skrillex, marking the first scoring assignment for the latter. Skrillex was contacted after Korine sent music supervisor Randall Poster links to the electronica artist's music on YouTube. "I'm accustomed to being the oldest person at a gig," said Poster, "but when I went to see Skrillex at Roseland this year, it was dramatic. There were a lot of kids that looked like they were 15 years old. But I loved it. I truly loved it."
Brooklyn rapper, RiFF RAFF collaborative partner Magneto Dayo released a song titled "Spring Breakers" (Simpsonwave) featuring Sage Odessa which references the Spring Breakers movie as well as the spring break real life experiences.
|Soundtrack album by Various artists|
|Released||March 19, 2013|
|Genre||EDM, southern hip hop|
|Label||Big Beat, Warner Music|
|Consequence of Sound||C-|
|Tampa Bay Times||A|
|1.||"Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites"||Skrillex||4:04|
|2.||"Rise and Shine Little Bitch"||Cliff Martinez & Skrillex||0:35|
|3.||"Pretend It's a Video Game"||Cliff Martinez||3:46|
|4.||"With You, Friends (Long Drive)"||Skrillex||6:29|
|5.||"Hangin' with Da Dopeboys"||Dangeruss & James Franco||3:51|
|6.||"Bikinis & Big Booties Y'all"||Cliff Martinez & Skrillex||2:05|
|7.||"Never Gonna Get This Pussy"||Cliff Martinez||4:07|
|8.||"Goin' In" (Skrillex Goin' Down Mix)||Birdy Nam Nam||3:38|
|9.||"Fuck This Industry"||Waka Flocka Flame||5:09|
|10.||"Smell This Money"||Skrillex||1:46|
|12.||"Young Niggas"||Gucci Mane & Waka Flocka Flame||3:24|
|13.||"Your Friends Ain't Gonna Leave with You"||Cliff Martinez||5:25|
|15.||"Big Bank" (featuring French Montana)||Meek Mill, Pill, Torch & Rick Ross||4:44|
|16.||"Son of Scary Monsters"||Cliff Martinez & Skrillex||2:04|
|17.||"Big 'Ol Scardy Pants"||Cliff Martinez||5:30|
|18.||"Scary Monsters on Strings"||Skrillex||4:03|
A sequel, under the name of Spring Breakers: The Second Coming, was announced in May 6, 2014. Although the storyline will have connections with the previous film, it will include a new cast in addition to the original. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund, The Second Coming, which Irvine Welsh has been attached to script, will focus on a set of Spring Breakers coming into conflict with Christian extremists.
Upon the announcement, Franco released a statement saying that the sequel was "not being done with Harmony Korine or my consent" and that the producers were "capitalizing on that innovative film to make money on a weak sequel" and attempting to "make money off someone else's creativity."
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Spring Breakers is either an inspired satire of the youth movie or the most irresponsible comedy mainstream Hollywood will never make.
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