At least twenty minutes of today’s press conference for director Harmony Korine’s Spring Breaker were dedicated to unearthing whether James Franco’s character Alien was based on the rapper Riff Raff. According to Korine, he had originally planned to have Riff Raff perform with Franco in a scene early on in the movie, but decided against it. That mystery had to be solved at least three separate times, though, because reporters weren’t hearing what they wanted.
The movie itself has created a fair amount of excitement, thanks in no small part to its cast of participants: Korine, a director perhaps best known for creating the screenplay for Kids; Franco, an Oscar nominee and host; and Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, minor nobility in the Disney empire. Knowing the girls’ background will presumably make the film a little more provocative; it’s a story that begins when three college students, desperate to escape to Florida for spring break, hold up a Chicken Shack to finance their trip. Joined by their childhood friend Faith (Gomez), a Christian, the four embark on a journey that consists of drinking, finding things that look like cocks to smoke weed out of, endless scenes of girls making out with each other, and some fucking around with guns.
If this doesn’t sound like much of a storyline, that’s because it’s not. The plot has the four girls land in jail for a night, to be bailed out by a creepy rapper named Alien. Alien and his friends freak Faith out, so she heads home. Another girl, Candy (played by Hudgens), leaves after she’s shot in the arm. The remaining two girls stay on and prove themselves exceptionally good with machine guns. Somehow, all of this takes 92 minutes to tell.
“I didn’t want to make a movie with too many words,” Korine told the press, as he explained that the movie was not an expose on Spring Break. “I wanted to make a film that was more like a feeling…This movie is about surfaces.”
Korine and Franco spent a good deal of time talking about the aesthetics of feeling and surface in the film, which, insofar as I could tell, was just a fancy way of saying Korine is influenced by David Salle and Andy Warhol. Spring Breakers is visually defined by a patchwork of Salle-eque dream sequences that focus on the girls’ asses, crowds of kids partying, and swimming pools, all behind the flat gloss Warhol gave any image he touched.
And like both of those artists, Korine is a master at selling his work. “I wanted to tell a story from the inside out,” the director said at one point, making a few of the more repetitive scenes seem palatable.
At least in hindsight. There were a few memorable scenes in this movie—watching the girls put on pink ski masks and crowd around Franco as he sung Britney Spears’s “Every Time” was certainly one—but it’s not quite enough to pull the film together. Much like listening to reporters endlessly repeat the same celebrity-seeking question, after the fifth time Faith tells us spring break is for self-discovery, you’re tired of being subjected to that world.