Friday, 5 April 2013

Spring Breakers (18)

I don't ask for a lot out of life - regular cups of tea, Richard Parker to not pinch my seat, a football team that wins  more than it loses, The Darkness to stop making records and for films to be entertaining.

They don't all have to be Citizen Kane, I get that - variety is the spice of life after all - but it should, as a bare minimum be engaging and hold my attention. And I'm not a complex man. Some guns, some bikini-clad beauties, some sunshine and a mad gangster with over-sized braces should do it. Not gonna trouble the grey matter, but should be an enjoyable way to pass 90 minutes, surely. I mean, with that little lot, you'd have to be a Boris Johnson-sized idiot to screw things up.

So hats off, then, to Harmony Korine, who has indeed taken all of the above ingredients and made a complete hash of the whole thing. I mean, how the hell do you make what should be a gritty, nasty, sleazy, grimy nuts-n-bolts hormone-fueled actioner tedious? It takes real skill.

Going by the trailer (which actually makes a lot more sense in two minutes than the film manages in 90), it should be a blast. Loud music, nasty rapper sort, drugs, teenagers robbing diners to pay for a holiday, it's got the lot. Sadly, it's also got a man who really doesn't know what he's doing.

Let's start at the beginning. The premise is simple. Four girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) need more than the $300 bucks they have scraped together to get pissed in Florida. Such are the woes of the modern teen in middle America. So, what to do? Well, a quick hold-up, obviously. Yup, that does it. Loads of money now - Florida-ho!

Only, that's not the actual beginning of the film. It should be, but it's not. Korine needs to spend time setting up his characters. So he starts there. And we learn that two are bored in college, one's a miserable happy-clappy church-goer and one spends all of her time stoned while a mysterious female is passed out on her couch. She's there so long I began to think she might be dead. She could be. We'll never know. Korine figures she's important enough to feature in several lingering shots of her slumbering, be-knickered body, but doesn't want to confuse things with who she actually is.

So, we start by laying out who the characters are. Only we don't. What we actually start with is 10 minutes of drunken debauchery and bobbling boobies as the entire teenage population of America hits one small town and gets shit-faced. Think Newquay, only with sunshine. And it's not needed. A few minutes, to give us a taste of the world our heroines are hankering after? Sure, fine. TEN MINUTES? It's almost like Korine's trying to distract you from the lack of plot.

No, I take that back. I'm such a cynic. I'm sure endless shots of topless women showering themselves with beer is essential to the whole tale...

Right, where was I? Oh yes, the story. Right. We've finally got the cash, so it's off to the Sunshine State we go. Party time. Lots of drugs and booze and sunny scooter riders and booze and drugs and booze and a quick scooter ride and some more booze and a quick toot and some booze and a sniff of marching powder and some booze and... oh whoops, they've been arrested.

For the raid on the diner? Don't be stupid. For all the drug partying, obviously. Only our girlies have pissed away all their money (scooters aren't cheap) and face two days "in County" as they can't pay the fine. In their bikinis, too. How handy then, that our dashing hero James Franco (who's clearly enjoying himself more than I am) comes to the rescue, pays the bill and takes our girlies home with him. Sweet.

(On that note - they get arrested for partying. Partying. During spring break. That's their big crime. What's that? Yes, they did rob a diner with a fake gun and a hammer, quite right. Nope, you didn't imagine that. Was quite a key plot point. Still, not to worry, I'm sure they're really sorry...)

Of course, he's not what he seems. By day, nut-job rapper. By night, gun-toting, drug-dealing nut-job rapper with hangers-on and an old friend who doesn't like him anymore. An old friend who also happens to be an honest heavily-armed narcotics retailer just trying to make a living. Could it be that the party is coming to an end? Far be it from me to spoil the final third of the film, but ask yourself this. Did it ever really start?

Even reading all that back now, I still feel there's a nasty little film lurking that could be a lot of fun. Instead we are handed an MTV-lite ragtag pile of bobbins that has been edited by an overly-caffeinated squirrel.

Shots jump around needlessly, sentences are repeated ad nauseum (I get it, you're scared, NOW SHUT UP), scenes are played out from all angles (he clearly couldn't decide on the best one, so put them all in), the acting (Franco aside) is appalling (imagine seven-year-olds playing at being grown-ups), and the nudity is so gratuitous even I was sitting there rolling my eyes. If ever someone needs to learn that less is more, it's Harmony Korine.

I seem to recall reading recently as well that a lot of the dialogue was improvised. It shows.

Now, I understand that I am not this film's target audience. I get that. But when you have to put this many nipples on screen to try and attract your audience, and it still doesn't make the film watchable, you need to ask yourself if you're in the right job.

I'd like to find some positives here - I really would. I've wandered about, making another pot of tea while I try and think of some, and Franco's performance aside, I've got nothing. It really is all surface and no substance while pushing the 'sex sells' maxim to the absolute limit. Hopefully, in this case, it doesn't.

(Arsebiscuits. I've just checked and on a $5m budget Spring Breakers has made $11m at time of writing. Which goes to prove ol' P.T. Barnum was right. Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public...)

No comments:

Post a Comment