On March 22, independent filmmaker Harmony Korine will grace audiences with his newest film, “Spring Breakers.” The film, which had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, features James Franco as well as Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson shedding their “Disney girl” labels and breaking out in an R-rated film.

The premise has everything possible to make “Spring Breakers” a cult masterpiece. Four college girls (played by Gomez, Hudgens, Benson and the director’s wife, Rachel Korine) are desperate to have the spring break of their lives. There’s only one problem – they don’t have the cash to fund the trip. So what do they do? They throw on some ski masks, rob senior citizens at a local eatery and run off to Florida.

Once there, they booze, they hook up and they do just about anything and everything under the sun. However, the cops bust a party and the bikini-clad girls end up in jail. Their stay isn’t long as Franco’s character bails them out for no explicable reason. After he shows them all he has to offer (money-laden rooms full of guns, designer t-shirts and shorts in every color in addition to his grill-adorned teeth), they become his henchwomen and assist him with his crimes – all while wearing bikinis.

Desperate to see a red-carpet premiere at TIFF (and after narrowly missing out on getting tickets to the premiere of the Academy Award-winning picture “Argo”), this reviewer bought the $25 tickets to see Korine’s supposed comedy. Despite some creative cinematography by Benoit Debie, the film was – putting it nicely – utter trash. Although I felt cheated paying so much for such an atrocious film, I felt worse for the adolescent girls in the audience when they saw their hero, Gomez, act in a film filled with vulgarity, nudity and terrible storytelling.

Korine would say that “Spring Breakers” is a commentary on the whole spring break culture, but in a film where Franco sits at a white grand piano by his in-ground swimming pool and sings a Britney Spears ballad while the girls dance in pink ski masks with AK-47s clutched in their hands, it’s hard to take seriously.

It’s difficult to say what Korine’s target audience was. Although the females in the audience were ga-ga over Franco and the girls’ fiercely independent nature, the film was clearly exploiting women, from the very first scene where bare-chested girls danced to Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” to the overall lack of smarts or general good qualities of the characters (minus Gomez, whose character went back to college halfway through the film).

Yes, this review is filled with spoilers, but I assure you, one thing I will not spoil is the ending. With the combination of terrible story, characters and general vulgarity, “Spring Breakers” is the first film I ever walked out on.

My advice to those going away on spring break: have fun, be safe and stay far away from the cinema.

  • Spring Breakers
  • Directed by Harmony Korine
  • 94 Minutes
  • 1 out of 5 stars

Originally published on March 15, 2013