Share story

Spring break: It’s every bit as much fun as you think it is. Until it isn’t.

“Spring Breakers” is Harmony (“Gummo”) Korine’s fever dream of something he never experienced — an orgy of sand, sin and snorting. And if his cameras — cellphone video inserts blur through the narrative — focus on pert bikini bottoms, girl-on-girl make-out sessions and topless, almost faceless masses shouting that drunken coed mating call, “Woohooooooo,” well, that’s just him kicking himself for what he missed.

It’s “Girls Gone Wild” meets the female-gangster picture “Set It Off.” Korine has cooked up an impressionistic bacchanal of what spring break has become and those who made it that way — college girls, proving to each other and themselves that they’re as bad and promiscuous as any frat boy.

Our quartet of Kentucky College coeds are thinly drawn in. Faith (Selena Gomez) is the religious one, a spiritual seeker who claims she only wants “to see someplace different.” Brit, Candy and Cotty (Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and the director’s wife, Rachel Korine) are more street-wise. That’s why they take the news that they don’t have the cash necessary to make the Florida trek badly. And they’re not sitting still for it. They find ski masks, arm themselves, steal a car and knock over a crowded diner.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

It says something of how shaky Faith’s faith is that she isn’t shocked by this, that she’s as willing as anybody else to get out of school by any means necessary.

In St. Petersburg Beach and environs, they’re busted for being in the wrong party, and a gangster and would-be rapper named “Alien” (James Franco) bails them out. What might he have in store?

The story is easy to follow, harder to justify, as motivations seem as murky as the plot, which is very much a dreamy haze of parties.

Gomez has the only real female character to play, narrating the story in the lies she tells her grandmother by phone about what a “spiritual” place this is. The other players — Hudgens and Benson especially — treat the movie as some sort of hipster rite-of-acting passage.

Skin will show, bad behavior will be indulged. And we’ll have no more “High School Musical,” “Wizards of Waverly Place” or “Pretty Little Liars” offers, thank you.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.