James Franco. American icon, he of the Academy Awards hosting letdown, the very same man who brought you Harry Osborne in the "Spider-Man" franchise. He's an enigma, this Franco, appearing one weekend in "Oz the Great and Powerful" a kid-friendly PG film, and then the next in the extremely R-Rated "Spring Breakers."
James Franco doesn't do one thing, he does everything. And as the great and powerful Steven Colbert noted, James Franco is a renaissance man … who also might be a complete fraud.
Even the director of "Spring Breakers," the delightfully named Harmony Korine, had this to say about Franco's performance in the film:
"He didn’t want to rehearse. When he put in the cornrows and the gold teeth and I heard the accent, I was like ‘whoa.' He was a maniac."
The trailer pretty much speaks for itself, a collection of y'alls, leers, and threesomes:
You would be hard pressed to construct a trailer more bonkers than that even if I spotted you Dennis Rodman and a case of Four Loco. Still, if "From Justin to Kelly" has taught us anything, it's that a spring break film can launch one's career into the stratosphere. It's all been leading up to this, his masterpiece, Franco imprinting on the world in a big way. As such, let's take a look at the Franco's seminal works, and why they can't quite measure up to "Spring Breakers".
"Freaks and Geeks"
Why it's great: Here's where we first became aware of James Franco, though sadly this beloved series only lasted eighteen episodes. Who's up for a cheeky Kickstarter?
Why it's still inconsequential compared to "Spring Breakers": The freakiness level on display here still aired on NBC. How risque can you get on NBC? Besides Jay Leno I mean.
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Why it's great: The Apes really brought the acting thunder in this film.
Why it's still inconsequential compared to "Spring Breakers": The drugs here turn apes into super apes. The drugs in "Spring Breakers" turn James Franco into Gary Oldman from "True Romance". Checkmate.
Why it's great: This might be Franco's best performance in which he doesn't wear a gold grill and indiscriminately fire off handguns.
Why it's still inconsequential compared to "Spring Breakers": His co-star in "127 Hours" was a rock. Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens are much better than a rock. Nicer, too.
"Tristan + Isolde"
Why it's great: Hahahahahahahhahaha. ... History?
Why it's still inconsequential compared to "Spring Breakers": Sorry, just seeing if you were still paying attention (wipes tear away from eye). Sidenote: Don't ever watch "Tristan + Isolde". The film feels shorter than the opera on which it's based, and that opera was written by Wagner.
Why it's great: The inspiring true story of Harvey Milk, James Franco helped portray the rampant discrimination same-sex partners faced in the '70s.
Why it's still inconsequential compared to "Spring Breakers": It's hard to argue that even a dramatization of the life and times of Harvey Milk is less consequential than "Spring Breakers," but it's not hard to argue that at no point in "Milk" did anyone shout "Bikinis and Big Booties Y'all, that's what life is about!" We rest our case.
Why it's great: Sadly, it's not, but it is consequential, simply based upon the box-office returns.
Why it's still inconsequential compared to "Spring Breakers": No one in the franchise is named "Alien," as James Franco is in "Spring Breakers" and thus we rule your Spidey art invalid. Also, The Green Goblin wears a horrible face-mask, whereas "Spring Breakers" proves that a nice shiny grill is always the right way to go. Remember kids: Always.
In the cold light of day, it's easy to surmise that we might never see a better version of James Franco than the one we see this weekend. He's a man in full, perhaps not the Franco we want, but definitely the one we need. Spring break, you guys. Spring break, forever.
Laremy wrote the book on film criticism and was too busy getting ahead on the next semester's assignments to go to spring break.