American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
American enfant terrible Harmony Korine's characters are all so self-absorbed that they never quite realize just how freakish they are. The sideshow characters in "Spring Breakers" are prettier than Korine's usual protagonists, especially when compared to the Halloween-mask-clad stars of his last film, "Trash Humpers." But that difference only accentuates the joke that Korine ("Gummo," "Mister Lonely") leans too hard on throughout "Spring Breakers": here are attractive monsters. Their primary aspirations in life are to doff their clothes, take drugs and generally push themselves to new levels of MTV-approved Bacchanalian debauchery.
So, Korine's latest is a characteristically serious film about inherently ridiculous characters, but it's too montonous to be really thoughtful or funny. Korine genuinely loves the amoral posturing of his bikini-clad, thrill-seeking co-ed protagonists, but eventually it all feels like too much of the same thing. "Spring Breakers" has moments as provocatively clever as Korine's better works, but its mainly attractive for its abundant superficial pleasures.
Four nubile college students dream of bass-heavy pop music, day-glo bikinis, and booze-soaked simulations of sex. They want to be objectified, to put themselves in positions where they're assumed to be naive and insanely over-sexed eye candy. Spring break is, as Faith (Selena Gomez) puts it, the girls' chance to see things that they've never seen before, an understatement given how lost in the Floridian funhouse they eventually get.
The girls save up money, but discover that they don't have even half of what they need. So, out of sheer boredom and desperation, and armed with balaclavas, hammers, and (realistic-looking) toy guns, they rob a nearby diner. This is the first transgressive act that the quartet commits, and therefore the most shocking. Maybe the these girls-behaving-badly aren't as phony as they seem. They tease each other and the people around them but only because they ironically treat the real danger that they routinely put themselves in like, as one girl puts it, a video game. While easily ignoring the fratboys who routinely hit them up for sex, the girls become prey for more serious thugs, like James Franco's Alien, a gun-toting rapper who gives voice to the group's mantra: "Spring break forever."