‘Spring Breakers’: The Reviews Are In!

Director Harmony Korine's new film is a cinematic version of a parent's worst nightmare.

Set to the thumping music of Skrillex and shot in neon candy colors, “Spring Breakers” is a hypnotic collision of a movie — and critics can’t stop watching.

Reviews are mostly positive, but clearly critics aren’t sure how seriously they should take “Spring Breakers.” Is it a commentary on the mythical, raucous spring break rite of passage? Does it prey on parents’ worst nightmares of what happens when a bunch of hot (in a number of ways) coeds hit the coast at once? Or is it actually praising the crazy, sexy, cool youth culture? Try all of the above.

Read on for our review roundup of “Spring Breakers”:

The Story
“True to the Korine spirit of calculated scandal, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens molt the remainder of their squeaky-clean Disney image as two in a quartet of friends (Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine are the others) determined to head from Nowheresville, U.S.A., to Florida for spring break. Lacking the necessary funds, three of them cajole good girl Gomez into knocking off a diner with squirt guns and sledgehammers, and they hightail it down the freeway with their ill-gotten cash. Florida turns out to be every bit the end-of-the-world bacchanal they dreamed it would be, but the cops inevitably round them up and throw them in jail. They find a surprise benefactor in James Franco, a blinged-out gangsta who bails them out and proceeds to get them into deeper trouble.” — Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club

Evil Genius
“This is the rare movie that I actually found myself liking more the longer I spent away from it and the more I thought about it — mainly because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In the moment, I found it numbingly repetitive, even boring at times: an obvious juxtaposition of sex and violence, of dreamlike aesthetics within a nightmare scenario. And it is all of those things. But it stuck with me, and it made me appreciate the genius of Korine’s approach.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press

Take It Away, Franco
“As for James Franco, he very nearly makes up for his dull and uneasy leading role in ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ with Alien (real name: Al, ‘but I’m from another planet, y’all’), a thoroughly offensive and outrageous character who is so ridiculous he’s almost believable. Reportedly based on a real-life Florida rapper named Dangeruss , Alien is like a human embodiment of everything that’s toxic about American pop culture — up to and including those silly shorts that are almost but not quite as long as pants — and as such is also charming and irresistible. I’m not sure which of Franco’s scenes is most disgusting and great: The one where the girls force him to fellate his own guns and he likes it, or the beachfront piano rendition of Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime,’ complete with an interpretive dance number involving pink unicorn ski masks.” — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Film Noir
” ‘All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun’ goes Jean-Luc Godard’s quip. Add to that a few more girls and their bikinis and you have the rough formula for Harmony Korine’s ‘Spring Breakers,’ which looks like the most expensive ‘Girls Gone Wild’ video ever made and feels like a grindhouse version of a 1950s beach-party movie: ‘Where the Boys Are Pimps and Gangstas.’ Or ‘Gidget Goes to Hell.’ As in the best work by Korine — the agile agent provocateur whose credits include the screenplay for ‘Kids’ and, most recently, the shot-on-VHS vagabond vaudeville ‘Trash Humpers’ — it is impossible to say where exploitation ends and deconstruction begins.” — Scott Foundas, Village Voice

The Final Word
“It all plays out in a final flourish of DayGlo ‘Scarface’ wish fulfillment, and you can’t really believe what you’re watching. Alien — and Korine — tell us it’s the American dream come true, and even if you resist going there with them, the have-your-cake-and-fling-it-too stupidity is breathtaking. It takes some kind of cracked artistry to put coeds in hot-pink ski masks and have them twirl around to a Britney Spears ballad toting machine guns. ‘Spring Breakers’ is either an inspired satire of the youth movie or the most irresponsible comedy mainstream Hollywood will never make. The bros in your crowd will call it rad — and radical it is.” — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Check out everything we’ve got on “Spring Breakers.”