There’s certainly no shortage of naked breasts, jiggling butts and suspicious substances in “Spring Breakers,” Harmony Korine’s crazy college dramedy set for U.S. release on Mar. 22. Even James Franco, playing a soft-hearted rapper named Alien, leads off his time in the film by declaring, “Bikinis and big booties, y’all. That’s what life is about.”
And for the most part, hazy shots that pan across scantily-clad bodies of co-ed extras live up to that promise. But what about the film’s four ingenues? Two of which, Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, stem from the clean-cut Disney-helmed projects “High School Musical” and “Wizards of Waverly Place,” respectively. Both girls also crossed over to pop music, as Disney stars are wont to do; Gomez in particular came into her own as a teen-friendly pop star on Selena Gomez & The Scene’s 2011 album, “When The Sun Goes Down.”
Yet in the trailer for Spring Breakers, it was purposely difficult to tell what’s what — if you’re looking to figure out whether Gomez and Vanessa ditch their good-girl images, it’s easy to assume, but hard to confirm, that they’ve embraced more adult film fare. Without giving away too much of this dizzying ode to excess, which was screened in New York last week ahead of its wide release, only one of the two girls decides to lose her on-screen purity for good. And if you guessed Hudgens, you’d be correct.
To her credit, Hudgens takes her role as Candy in “Spring Breakers” very seriously, and emerges as one of the film’s most convincingly deranged characters in the story of four college-aged girls who decide to resort to criminal activity to fund their spring break trip. If you didn’t know she got her start singing about high school basketball games and the woes of teenage love, you might never have guessed.
On the other hand, Gomez plays the appropriately-named Faith, a religious college student who has been friends with the other three leads “since kindergarten.” The pop star manages to only push the envelope by wearing a skimpy bikini, and theres is one scene where she is shown smoking marijuana from a bong. But what’s beyond impressive is that Gomez’s involvement with “Spring Breakers” gives her the perfect opportunity to be connected with an R-rated project without compromising her family-friendly image. As the moral guidepost for the film, Faith constantly questions the girls’ extreme actions: her main line in “Spring Breakers” seems to be, “I have a bad feeling about this,” which she expresses repeatedly right up until (spoiler alert!) her dramatic exit.
So even if a few Selenators manage to sneak into the explicit film (and, to be clear, there is no reason why tweens should be seeing this movie), they would probably emerge with the same trustworthy feelings toward their idol. And so would their parents. “That girl,” they might say. “She’s such a good influence on the rest. It’s too bad they didn’t listen to her in the first place.”