This is all intentional; during a Q&A at the Museum of the Moving Image, Korine said—with self-regarding matter-of-factness that I think I was supposed to find shocking or admirable or heroic—that he doesn't care about scripts, realism, truth, or boring parts (or all those other things that concern the hacks and the non-Harmonies of the world, was the implication). And I agree: often those things aren't necessary! Especially the boring parts! Of which Spring Breakers actually has many—because beautiful images can, in fact, morph into boring parts when every moment in your spring break crime movie must be revisited at least twice, like an art installation on a loop.
But for Korine, the boring parts are where you learn anything about these girls and why some of them take better than others to a hustler's life, which means several of the movie's big turns happen for basically no reason. To make the girls need money for spring break, they are convinced that it costs a princely sum, even though they spend most of their time in trashed motels with alcohol (and heavier stuff) flowing freely; so the girls have no money, but when they need a getaway car for their robbery, a teacher's car is easily stolen offscreen (one of the girls "knows where he keeps his keys"? Which I guess is: somewhere unlocked and unguarded even when he's not on campus?); and their eventual arrest for, I guess, drug possession makes little logistical sense. Even the movie seems confused about whether Alien pays their fines or their bail.
Little of these nitpicks matter much, but Korine spreads his material too thin for the impressionistic dreamscape he wants to paint. His image-heavy approach means there are some indelible, thrilling moments: When the girls commit their first robbery, the camera stays in their getaway car for an unbroken taken as it circles the building, the crime visible through windows but scored with the engine's loud rumble. Later, they stumble around a parking lot singing "Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears, which matches up to a later, weirder scene where three of the four girls don pink ski masks and dance to Franco's solo-piano cover of Spears's "Everytime," which he is playing at the white piano sitting next to his pool. Franco has another great scene that consists mainly of him standing on his bed in his gangster paradise mansion, listing things that he owns ("my shit," he keeps calling it). There is an insane shootout, and a great, pseudo-music-video shot of the girls on motor scooters. The 30-minute highlights reel of this movie would be a thing of beauty. A 70-minute cut might even work while still qualifying as a feature film.
But Korine lets few of these moments pass without repetition I imagine he intends as hypnotic. So we are treated to the crack of a gun cocking, over and over; Franco drawling "spring break forever," over and over, and lots of other refrains that play like a parody of Terrence Malick. Of course, Malick also uses his impressions to give space to his actors (even if some of them are sacrificed to his editing progress). Korine, shooting toward mood rather than people, only lets Franco create something resembling a character. The girls, the movie's ostensible subjects, barely have characteristics: The girl played by Vanessa Hudgens loves to place her hands in gun poses and fire. All of them flip their middle fingers almost as a default. The girl with the most lines, the one played by Selena Gomez (OK, she has a name that actually sticks: she's Faith, because she's the religious one! Another sly bit of social satire from Harmony!), exits the movie halfway through. Then the girl played by the director's wife has an exit scene that's almost exactly the same. I would've loved to see Hudgens, for example, who was charming in the non-Disney Bandslam a few years ago, in a more adult role, or Selena Gomez testing herself by doing more than alternating between naïve elation and reasonable worry, but Korine doesn't seem interested in anything so pedestrian as actors, characters, or scenes. I admire the weird beauty and audacity of Spring Breakers, but the experience of actually watching it for 92 minutes isn't quite the heady rush its director seems to have had in mind.
Carell seems to be going about halfway back to his broad comedy roots, bearing some of the sad-sackery he picked up during his long stint in the land of dramedies: Dan in Real Life, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Hope Springs, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Looking back at those titles, I actually wonder if Carrey might've been good in some of those roles, too—though I won't suggest an 80s-style body swap because I wouldn't wish the worst bits of Carrey's filmography on anyone as talented as Carell or, for that matter, Carrey himself. I'd also like to take this opportunity to recommend Carrey's best comedy in years, maybe ever: I Love You, Philip Morris, the dark and twisty con-artist picture. It's actually from the directing team who did Crazy, Stupid, Love but I wouldn't say it's for fans of that movie because Philip Morris is really good. Anyway, 30 Rock director Don Scardino, who handled over a quarter of that show's episodes throughout its run, heads to features with Burt Wonderstone—so here's hoping that, at very least, the pacing snaps.