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‘Spring Breakers’ is unsettling and oddly compelling


A couple of Disney starlets do their best to scuff up their images in the very non-Disney film, “Spring Breakers.”

Good girls gone bad: That’s not only the theme of the movie “Spring Breakers,” it’s also the career trajectories of Disney sweethearts Vanessa Hudgens of “High School Musical” fame and Selena Gomez from “Wizards of Waverly Place.”

The two young actresses play co-eds bored with college life, especially when they’re stuck on campus over spring break.

They don’t want to sit around another day, but they have to figure out where to get the money to on spring break.

It’s a bit startling to see but these girls with a couple of their girlfriends hold up a restaurant – robbing it to pay for a spontaneous trip to Florida. Although they only used squirt guns in their crime, the exhilaration they feel is palpable.

It only primes their emotional pumps for an out of control spring break, a break full of sex and drugs and rap and guns, lots and lots of guns.

When our heroines end up in jail for drugs and alcohol, they’re bailed out by the overly friendly local gangster, named Alien, played to the hilt by James Franco.

Moviegoers may be talking about Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens going into the theater but it will be James Franco they’ll be talking about coming out. Tricked out with cornrows and a full grill, Franco oozes one part charm to three parts sleaze. It’s alternately a hilarious and scary performance.

One of the most striking scenes involves little more than Franco plunking at a white grand piano and surrounded by our bikini-clad co-eds wearing pink ski masks and toting assault weapons. And, of course, they’re all singing a Britney Spears song.

The movie itself is not what you might call commercial fare. The director Harmony Korine is notorious for making bizarre, non-linear films, and “Spring Breakers,” although by far his most mainstream movie, is more about mood and atmosphere than character – or titillation even.

It’s unsettling and oddly compelling which happens to be a good way to describe this movie too.

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