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Spring Breakers

Admission

March 28, 2013

Spring Breakers (**) R

Harmony Korine was just a tad over twenty when he penned the screenplay for the headline grabbing, 1995 film Kids, which in turn earned Korine a place in film history at the time as the youngest credited screenwriter. Kids, was an ultra controversial film whose plot revolved around a group of teens, played in the film by real teens, who spend their days with such lofty goals as deflowering virgins and ingesting illegal, mind-altering substances without any thought or care for the future. The film was directed by former skateboarder, Larry Clark, and was defended in some circles as a striking morality tale, while others saw the film as cheap exploitation.  After writing and/or directing a crop of mostly unsuccessful films over the last two decades, Korine has finally decided to return to similar material with Spring Breakers, this time stepping behind the camera as well as penning the film. The results, I would say, are much like Korine’s first foray into film all those years ago, although with much less impact.

Spring Breakers first made headlines due to the casting of squeaky-clean tween stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, who are paired in the film with writer-director Korine’s wife, Rachel, and Ashley Benson. They star in the film as Faith, Candy, Cotty and Brit, four college girls looking for some adventure who decide to rob a local restaurant and hightail it to Florida for the annual ritual known as Spring break.

Looking for trouble: cast of Spring Breakers

With the aid of some quick cutting, in a matter of seconds the foursome are in St. Petersburg, Florida ingesting drugs, drinking heavily and getting involved with local bad boy, Alien (James Franco, one of the best things in the film and sporting corn rows), after he posts bail for them following their arrest at a party. Faith decides that she’s had enough and leaves, while the other three girls become increasingly involved in Alien’s questionable lifestyle, which any viewer will recognize as a sign that things aren’t going to turn out well for one or more of these characters.

I would have to say that problem with Spring Breakers lies mostly in the directorial/writing choices of Korine. The film is stylishly shot, to be sure, but that’s about it. It’s a creature of too much style and too little substance and this, in turn, mutes whatever moral points Korine might want to hammer home. The film is also riddled with Korine’s annoying habit of having the characters repeat lines for no discernible reason. There are too many instances where the characters say a line, which is quickly followed by some stylishly shot scene of carnage, only to have the character reiterate the same line either onscreen or through narration. What we’re left with is an unsatisfied feeling that somewhere inside all of the shiny packaging lies a great morality tale just waiting to get out. 

Admission • PG-13

Christy Lemire

AP Movie Critic

What should be a hilarious, long-overdue pairing of two hugely likable, superstar comedians ends up being a major disappointment. As much film and television work as they do individually, Tina Fey and Paul Rudd surprisingly never have worked together. In theory, her smart, zingy persona should mesh beautifully with his easygoing goofiness, or their shared dynamic should bounce, or snap, or have some sort of life to it. Instead, Paul Weitz’s direction of Karen Croner’s script is tonally erratic: too fast in spots and too much of a slog in others.

It certainly doesn’t help that the characters feel like types without much nuance. Even reliable comic veterans like Fey and Rudd can’t find much that’s new or fresh in these people, and as a result they have zero chemistry with each other.

Tina & Paul don’t have it goin’ on in Admission

Fey, as a Princeton University admissions officer, is always uptight, precise and emotionally closed-off. Rudd, as the do-gooder founder of an alternative New England high school, is always free-spirited, adventurous and open-minded. Even in the fantasy world of romantic comedies where opposites attract and sparks fly, these two have no business being together.

Nat Wolff plays the odd, brilliant student who may be the son Fey’s character put up for adoption as a newborn and Lily Tomlin provides the film’s few moments of joy as Fey’s maverick feminist mother. PG-13 for language and some sexual material. 100 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

Admission is playing at the Carmike Cinema in Hickory. Spring Breakers is playing at the AmStar in Mooresville, NC.

Questions or comments - email Adam Long at filmfan1970@hotmail.com

 

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