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Film / Spring Breakers

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Spring break...
Spring break!
Spring break forever...

Spring Breakers is a 2013 comedy-drama-arthouse-crime-exploitation film written and directed by Harmony Korine, starring notable teen idols Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Benson in their first "adult" film roles, alongside James Franco and Rachel Korine.

The film revolves around four female college students looking to split campus for spring break in Florida, but there's a snag in their plan: they don't have nearly enough cash to cover the trip. As a means of covering the costs, they do what anybody else in their situation obviously would, and that's to rob a fast-food place for quick money. Once they have enough to go, they enjoy all the typical activities of a spring break trip...until they end up in jail. As if their trip couldn't go any more wrong, they're inexplicably bailed out by a drug-dealing, wannabe rapper. And somehow, it goes even more downhill from there.


This film provides examples of:

  • All Women Are Lustful: Except Faith.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: While Alien is an established rapper in-universe, it's strongly hinted that he has a learning disability and possibly might be a bit touched as well - he repeats himself constantly and we later see that his entire internal monologue takes the form of a repetitive rap poem that begins to sound like a Verbal Tic after a while. The man clearly has problems.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Candy and Brit as they are willing to kiss each other as long as white rapper Alien watches them.
  • Asshole Victim: Alien and Big Arch, to a certain degree.
  • Ax-Crazy: Candy and Brit come across as such in the latter half of the movie, considering they have the guts to stick loaded guns in the mouth of a gangster who was seducing them, and casually discuss offing him and taking his stuff. Even in the first half of the movie, their go-to plan for getting money - robbing a local restaurant and threatening to kill the people inside - screams that they are not stable, and Faith's church friends warn her that they are evil.
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  • Bail Equals Freedom: There is no mention of the girls receiving any further punishment or trial after they're cited and Alien bails them out.
  • Battle Harem: Alien has Candy and Brit.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Played with. There was a reloading sound after Candy and Brit shot the gangster who killed Alien, even as no reloading motion accompanied it. To keep costs down, several "pop guns", or low-pressure blank-only guns intended for special effects, are used in the movie; their magazines are theoretically capable of keeping up with that many shots during the Roaring Rampage of Revenge, though.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Sweet, sweet Faith is just not cut out for the misadventures the girls get up to.
    • Cotty suffers this as well, after getting shot in the arm.
  • The Cameo: Jeff Jarrett briefly appears as the pastor of a bible group Faith goes to.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Robbing a fast food restaurant with water guns at the beginning? Comes in handy for Brit, Cotty, and Candy later... with real guns.
  • Contrast Montage: Much of both the film's humor and drama comes from juxtaposing naive idealism with cynical debauchery and, ultimately, bloody violence. In between drug fueled parties and violent crimes, the protagonists are seen watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and singing Britney Spears songs. On a similar note, the bloody climactic scene features two characters wearing pink balaclavas with unicorns emblazoned on them.
  • Dark Reprise: "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" by Skrillex plays during the beach party in the opening scene. A more melancholy arrangement of that same song plays over the film's climax, which is decidedly less carefree.
  • Deadly Bath: Big Arch is relaxing is his hot tub when he is shot and killed by Brit and Candy.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Half of the movie focuses on the development of Faith, but after she literally gets Put on a Bus, the perspective changes to Alien's.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Candy and Brit, presumably, as they make out with each other during their threesome with Alien. Of course, some straight women will engage in sexual activity with each other to please straight men.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The reason as to why some characters were literally Put on the Bus. Faith's comes after being bailed out by Alien and not feeling comfortable in his presence, while Cotty getting shot is the kick in the ass she needs to leave.
  • Desperate Plea for Home: After Al bails them out of prison, Faith breaks down crying and says she wants to go home. The other girls try to convince her that she can't, but this is Foreshadowing for the fact that Faith does leave and is in fact the first to do so.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Alien, who dies in the most abrupt manner in the movie.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: From a very perverse perspective. Faith and Cotty become disillusioned and cynical after their experiences, and end up going home. The other two, however, stay on and end up rich after a successful killing spree. For them, the dream of "spring break forever" has come true.
  • Erotic Eating: The montage of hedonistic activity on the beach at the start of the film includes a group of bikini-clad girls sucking on Popsicles in a very suggestive manner.
  • Expy: Alien is supposed to be one of Dangeruss, according to Word of God, though most people assume he's an Jerkass-ey expy of Riff Raff.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • While there are plenty of shirtless extras (of both genders), it never feels quite right, what with the excessive slow-motion Jiggle Physics and unflattering camera angles, looking more like it comes from the eyes of someone experiencing a bad acid trip.
    • The second time we get to see Cotty's breasts is when she's having a Shower of Angst and covered in blood, having just been shot in the arm a few hours prior.
  • Fanservice: On the other hand, the girls only wear their bikinis once they reach Florida unless they decide to be Put on a Bus and Alien is almost always seen without his shirt...
  • Fetishized Abuser: Alien gets lucky with two hot young blondes...good for him, right? Well, they put loaded guns in his mouth, further humiliating him by having a cheerful little discussion with each other over his head...this discussion being about whether or not they should just kill him and take all his stuff. His reaction is to fall in love with them.
  • Florida: St. Petersburg, specifically. The film was, along with 2014's Sex Ed, part of a wave of movies filmed in the area during a period in which the Tampa and St. Petersburg municipal governments were providing heavy incentives to draw in the film industry.
  • Foil: The two Trios - Alien, Brit and Candy vs. Big Archie and his two unnamed companions. Alien seems to genuinely love his two female friends, caring for them and helping them, while their Three-Way Sex is passionate and engaging for all involved. Big Archie, by contrast, treats his companions like sexual objects and doesn't even bother to pay attention to them. The contrast is highlighted in the final shootout, when Archie's girls are busy feeling each other up in the shower while Brit and Candy rush in and kill Archie.
  • Foreshadowing
    • An interesting auditory example. The movie is broken into roughly four segments, and the transition between each is a specific event that has a distinctive sound. The sound is worked into the edits and shot changes in the scenes leading up to their correlating events. Specifically, sounds of crashing and hammering lead up to the fast food robbery which heralds going to Florida, sounds of the jail cell door lead up to the arrest which moves from typical spring break to weird spring break, and sounds of gun fire lead up to Cotty being shot.
    • When the girls try to build up their courage prior to the Chicken Shack robbery, one of them says "Just pretend it's a video game." The final shootout itself is very video game-like in its structure.
    • The girls' reenactment of the bank robbery in the parking lot shows that the lot of them are a little too dedicated to abusing Faith, who plays the role of one of the Chicken Shack customers. This helps show us how easily the three girls slip into Alien's violent power fantasies.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Faith (Melancholic), Candy (Choleric), Cotty (Phlegmatic) and Brit (Sanguine).
  • Gender-Blender Name:
    • Alien's name is pronounced like the traditionally feminine name "Aileen." This could be due to his extremely strong accent, but the girls pronounce it "Aileen" too.
    • Many people not familiar with Harmony Korine's work were surprised to find out that he's actually a man.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Brit and Candy invoke this during their threesome by making out in front of Alien.
    • To be fair, they DID seem to be pretty into one another prior to their encounter...
    • There's a number of lesbian make out scenes during the spring break party, too.
    • And Big Arch is getting two girls to make out in the shower before he gets shot.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: The only two people who experience any sort of regret for their actions are Cotty and Faith. Cotty has pink hair, while Faith has dark brown hair, in contrast to the Candy and Britt's very bleached blonde hair.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Cotty, especially, but everyone parties hard. Although she does join in with their behavior, Faith is the only one not shown to be reveling in it or shown in any particularly compromising positions.
  • Hidden Depths: Alien playing Everytime by Britney Spears flawlessly on the piano shows us that he likely had formal training at some point or because he legitimately loves the song, considering the sincerity of his tone when he talks about how much the song means to him.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: All the mooks in Big Arch's gang compound. This is notable since all of them couldn't hit two walking girls wearing nothing but bikinis and ski masks.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: A very egregious example since Brit and Candy kill everyone on the gang compound using sub-machine guns held with one hand, despite the movie never having shown them shooting anyone before. The guns used did have relatively little recoil because of their design, however.
  • I Warned You: Faith is told early on that her Childhood Friends Brit, Candy, and Cotty — especially the first two — are bad news, but she doesn't listen.
  • Karma Houdini: It's implied that Brit and Candy will completely get away with robbing a lot of people with Alien and then killing hordes of men right before they leave Florida.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In preparation for the girls' robbery, Brit says "Just pretend it's a video you're in a fucking movie."
  • Madness Mantra: Alien has a few of these.
    • "Spring break... Spring break! Spring break forever..."
    • "Look at my shit!"
    • His "four little chickies" freestyle poem
  • Male Gaze: Rampant and justified. There's a huge amount of close-ups on women's rears and shots that are composed purely to get female body parts somewhere in the frame. One critic described it as the camera constantly moving across the four lead women "like a giant tongue." A large part of the film's theme is displaying how disturbing unchecked hedonism can become, and the cinematography reflects this.
  • Manchild: Alien, in heavy doses, from the perspective of the viewer. His attitude on life is like that of a child fantasizing about being a kingpin - the protagonists don't see through it and just find his immature idea of personal power based on decadent luxuries alluring.
    Alien: Look at all my shit!
  • Meaningful Name:
    • It's no surprise that Faith is depicted as being religious, in some aspect.
    • Alien is, fittingly, a really weird guy.
    • Big Arch is the Arc Villain of the movie's final part and the confrontation against him puts a cap on the big, overarching story.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Brit and Candy kill all the men in the manor while letting the women escape, but the women are the only people who aren't armed, so it's justified. Alien is also the only one in the protagonist group who dies, which is less justified.
  • Only Sane Man: Faith and eventually Cotty. Given an interesting spin, in that in both cases the sane person demonstrates their sanity by eventually deciding Screw This, I'm Outta Here and leaving the film entirely, thus leaving us watching only the lunatics.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Thought this would be another mindless, fun, party movie? Thought this would be another coming of age movie that would have dark comedic twists and turns? When Alien plays his part in the story, it won't be.
  • Plot Armor: The only explanation as to how Brit and Candy manage to shoot every gangster in the finale despite the fact that they could not be easier targets than if they had bullseyes on their foreheads. Definitely adds to the surreal nature of the film.
  • Put on a Bus: In this case, literally. Faith goes back home an hour into the film, with Cotty splitting towards the end. Both are never heard from again afterwards.
  • Rearrange the Song: The opening sequence features Skrillex's "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites;" the film's climax features a slow string version of the same song performed by Skrillex himself.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The film ends with Brit and Candy riding off in one of Big Arch's fancy cars, likely with all his and Alien's money, too.
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: Alien cultivates his gangsta cred by endlessly watching Scarface on repeat.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After being jailed for drug use and bailed out by Alien, Faith doesn't like how / where things are going and decides to hightail it home. Later, Cotty gets shot and wisely decides to cut her losses as well.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Alien's lifestyle is filled with this, with rap replacing rock & roll.
  • Shout-Out: Lots, with some of the most notable being a few Scarface references and a rendition of "...Baby One More Time." And, of course, Alien keeping up the alien theme by referencing Star Trek and Star Wars wherever appropriate.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Alien is already a somewhat well-known rapper in-universe, but clearly less well known as a big, bad kingpin in the underground economy. This makes Alien the rapper want to up his gangsta cred and boost his already inflated ego by becoming an equally or even more well known criminal - leading him to a few confrontations with his obviously more powerful and established rival, Big Arch. It doesn't end well...for either of them.
  • Small Town Boredom: The main reason the girls wanted to go on Spring Break in the first place, though for one of them, this doesn't last too long.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The delicate Britney Spears ballad "Everytime" plays over a violent scene.
    • Also, beautiful violin music plays (a string arrangement of "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites") when Candy and Brit murder Big Arch.
  • Sunshine Noir: The fun in the sun of the Tampa Bay area apparently includes it being a crime ridden pit. Korine himself calls the film "beach noir."
  • Three-Way Sex: Brit, Candy, and Alien.
    • They Do: Candy and Brit have oodles and oodles of Les Yay with one another, and finally...yeah.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: The Twins always "share" their girls (have threesomes with them). None of the protagonist girls seem interested, though.
  • Two-Act Structure: The first 30-45 minutes of the movie is an all-girl movie about the naive Faith and her friends committing a major crime and hiding out in Florida. With the major arrival of Alien, Faith leaves shortly after, and the rest of the movie resembles a gruesome, drug-fueled crime movie.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Three person version with Alien, Brit, and Candy.
  • White Gang Banger: Alien, who claims to have been the only white guy in his neighborhood growing up. His twin cronies also count, not to mention Brit and Cotty.
  • Wretched Hive: The Tampa/St. Petersburg area is shown as pretty trashy and a magnet for nastier forms of human excess throughout much of the film, and that's before Alien and his bloodthirsty gangland rivals show up.