review round-up

Sex Stink and Moral Squalor: How Critics Described the Debauched Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers, which opens wide today, is many things, including, according to David Edelstein’s review, “among the perviest movies ever made.” The consensus among critics seems to be that in between James Franco’s utterly captivating performance and director Harmony Korine’s avant-garde storytelling is old-fashioned, American T & A. Edelstein wrote: “Spring Breakers opens with a montage of bouncing bare boobs and buttocks barely squeezed into bikini bottoms, the camera gliding up the lengths of young girls’ thighs.” Adding: “Korine isn’t a passive voyeur. He moves in-in-in on those hot bods — up, down, all around the town. A friend whispered, ‘The camera is like a giant tongue.’” How did the other critics describe this oversexed debauchery? There are a lot of descriptions of young people’s bodies, a lot of references to MTV’s spring break coverage and Girls Gone Wild, and a general conflict between those who seem turned on and those who sound like they’re thinking, What if that were my daughter?” Read what they all said below.

“You could attend a matinee screening of Spring Breakers with an eye toward either writing your master’s thesis or masturbating. I’m fairly sure there were attendees at the daytime showing I caught with both aims in mind. One guy actually brought a raincoat.” —Slate

“Taking this once-popular programming as a jumping-off point, Harmony Korine’s hallucinatory Spring Breakers begins with a montage of college kids enacting an R-rated version of MTV’s coverage, bare breasts being soaked with beer and plentiful bong hits replacing the more television-friendly images peddled by the former music-video giant.” Slant

“So fully does Spring Breakers mount an atmosphere of swirling arms, blithe female availability and lubricated torsos, you can almost smell the sex stink.” Time Out New York

“It’s the opportunity to marry jiggling flesh and hypnotically fruity color to the squealing, bleating pump of the music of Skrillex. What Korine does with the beer-soaked skin, face-devouring makeouts, and piles and piles of barely dressed people is intensify the college-party atmosphere in a way that feels simultaneously orgasmic and repulsive. The moral squalor is so thick you can practically smell the police investigation.” —Grantland

“It’s clear from the off that this is going to be something very different for Korine, with a slow-motion opening sequence of topless co-eds drinking beer bongs on the beach that could be lifted straight from a Girls Gone Wild tape or a sleazy music video, albeit one with high production values.” Indie Wire

“Korine gives us the shots we expect to see in a teensploitation movie on this subject: bikini girls popping their tops and flipping off the camera, Neanderthal thugs funneling booze, a line of boys holding beer cans at crotch level and pouring the liquid into the mouths of reclining women.” —The Wrap

“A natural world that, in this case, features alcohol-fueled ragers, rampant public nudity and endless teen-on-teen grinding” Television Without Pity

“In the opening credit sequence, director Harmony Korine sets the scene at the beach destination with slo-mo shots of bare-breasted bunnies getting soaked with suds and other fluids by hard-bodied horndogs.” —St. Louis Dispatch

“There’s enough beer-bonging, crotch-grabbing, lewd, lascivious and loving it action to fill a T-shirt shop with slogans.” —Tampa Bay Times

“Korine’s Spring Breakers feels like the floor of a Tampa Bay strip club. It’s sticky, slimy, dirty and has seen far more depravity and corruption than one should handle.” —Cinema Blend 

“Sure- there’s tons of hot girls getting naked, but everyone seems so moronic that it’s hard to be turned on by any of it.” —Jo Blo

“The opening montage is like a batch of outtakes from a Girls Gone Wild video, as dozens of oiled, inebriated American youths shake their stuff for the camera, pouring beer on bared breasts and generally making you fret for the future of the country, if not humanity.” —The Oregonian

“Watching the opening montage of barely-legals chugging beer, fellating Popsicles and tit-flashing for the camera, you’d be forgiven for thinking Spring Breakers is a wallow in grotesquerie.” Time Out Chicago

“The first third of the movie is just a curvy rear-end of bad behavior shaken in your face.” —

“Korine shows from the start that he’s fully plugged into spring break’s mythic dimension, opening the film with a long, slo-mo montage of crotch grabbing, ass shaking, beer-soaked boob jiggling, and lips doing the most indecent things to Popsicles.” Village Voice

“It’s partly a softcore Girls Gone Wild spring-break special, featuring formerly wholesome teen-oriented stars.” —Salon

“In super slo-mo, as beer-soaked party girls cavort on the beach to the thump of electronic dance music.” Boston Globe

“The beer doesn’t flow, it floods: over heads, writhing torsos and the bared breasts that wiggle like puppies and wag at the camera like the middle fingers that more and more revelers raise. Welcome to the party, dude, Mr. Korine seems to be saying (or is he snickering?), now sit back, relax and enjoy the show.” —New York Times

“Is any of it sexy? Not especially” ­—L.A. Times

“The focus is on various permutations of wild partying, it’s a monotonous blur of beer bongs and bare breasts.” —USA Today

“Starts out like a salacious, rump-centric and blithely bare-breasted hip-hop video.” Chicago Tribune

“Korine’s camera is nearly an intrusive weapon as he lingers over the soft, limber bodies of Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and his wife, Rachel Korine, as four lifelong friends who spend at least as much time caressing one another as they do in search of male companionship. There are moments when you feel as if someone’s going to tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘What are YOU looking at?’” —Chicago Sun Times 

“The first few minutes of Spring Breakers is little more than slow-motion bare breasts, beer bonging and suggestive popsicle sucking, impossible to distinguish from a Girl’s Gone Wild cassette except for the dreamy Terrence Malick vibe.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“The montage of bangin’ young bodies, rivers of booze and bricks of dope might look like Nirvana for a minute, but Korine firmly pushes our noses in the scene’s squalid stupidity.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“It’s like a Girls Gone Wild DVD — shot by some failing freshman film student… [It’s] often padding out its paltry running time with leering shots of girls in scanty panties, girls going topless, girls on girls.” —The Star Ledger

Sex and Squalor: The Critics on Spring Breakers