Movie review: “Spring Breakers,” the most ridiculous thing you’ll see this weekend

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From the March 21, 2013 edition

If the American dream had a fever and a Skrillex soundtrack, it would be Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” It’s “Girls Gone Wild” meets “Scarface.” You don’t get much more ’Merica than that.

But is it good? Who’s to say, really? It is almost certainly the most abso-friggin-lutely ridiculous thing you can see this weekend, in theaters or elsewhere. That’s saying something.

Four friends (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) at an unnamed college are lamenting the everyday sameness of their boring lives and longing for the bacchanalian bliss of spring break. Only catch? They lack the funds.

So they do what college co-eds in Harmony Korine’s world do and rob a diner with squirt guns. And they totally get away with it. Next stop: SPRING BREAK!

They then participate in a neon-splashed montage of boozy rowdiness and naked flesh — it’s like the heyday of MTV’s Spring Break, but with more open cocaine use. When a drug-fueled bash gets raided by police, the girls find themselves in spring break jail.

Enter James Franco’s Alien, a grill-sporting, occasional rapper/perpetual thug who bails the girls out of jail. Circling like a shark, he introduces them to his world and a much darker spring break experience.

“Spring Breakers” is occasionally hilarious, but, oh Lord, it’s no comedy. Some of the funniest bits come from just how seriously it takes itself.

Garnering the most headlines is the fact that two cast members are former Disney stars, as Gomez and Hudgens do the “not that innocent” act. But the reason to see this film is James Franco’s ridiculously over-the-top (in all the best ways) Alien.

Franco gives an epic speech about his possessions that is a hilarious crystallization of our culture of stuff. Even more amazing? It’s not his most wacked-out moment. That one involves an outdoor piano and a Britney Spears song. Every line he has in this film is a quote waiting to happen.

Of course, there’s a fine line between cautionary tale and exploitation. Writer-director Korine (“Kids,” “Gummo”) celebrates sociopathic behavior in Day Glo color and super-slow-motion before doling out consequences.

But those coming for a boob-soaked party movie will walk out shaking their heads — possibly before the movie has ended. The concept of “spring break forever” has never been more ominous.