The first screening of Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine's homage to spring break and crime, came at the Venice Film Festival in September 2012. The reviews were surprisingly favorable for a film about four scantily-clad young women (Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens and Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson) who turn to crime to fund their spring break trip and run into a corn-rowed James Franco in the process, with reviewers claiming it would be a cult hit for midnight moviegoers.
The film, screened at South By Southwest Sunday night, is being released in New York and Los Angeles on March 22 and will see a nationwide release on March 29. Buzz around the film is growing. But as more reviews pile in, more questions are being asked. Whether Spring Breakers is a perverted look at young women or a film worth watching is highly debatable, but it appears that either way, audiences want to see it.
The headline of David Edelstein's review of Spring Breakers for New York magazine says it all: "Is Spring Breakers One of the Perviest Movies Ever Made?" This question was even asked when the movie trailer came out in January. Forrest Wickman for Slate wrote of the trailer: "There’s a line towards the beginning of the trailer, in which [James Franco's character] 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."
Director Harmony Korine has never shied away from controversy before. He is known for Kids, a 1995 movie about sexually active teenagers in New York City who have sex and do drugs in the HIV era of the 1990s. Rita Kempley of the Washington Post called it "virtually child pornography disguised as a cautionary documentary."
Kids was rated NC-17, but Spring Breakers is rated R. Regardless of rating, Korine has created buzz around the film that almost guarantees it will draw big audiences. Taking tween stars and having them perform out of their comfort zone created publicity.
When the trailer came out, Wickman from Slate asked, whether the film would be "Brilliant? Or just trashy?" While the early reviews cited Spring Breakers as a cult hit, lately, the sentiment is leaning towards trash.
Edelstein at New York lines it up as trashy: "Still, there’s something overpoweringly creepy about the ways in which Korine goes about debasing his three leads, all of whom are obviously there as a gesture of defiance."
Even if it is trashy, Spring Breakers can expect big crowds. The anticipation is there, trashy or brilliant or somewhere in between.