Moms and dads, hide your Selena Gomez-loving daughters, because Harmony Korine’s girls-gone-wild-gone-to-hell Spring Breakers is definitely not for Disney-obsessed kids, or kids in general.
That was proven above and beyond at the movie’s fun, rowdy Friday night premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, packed to the gills with screaming fans of the film’s stars: Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Korine’s wife Rachel Korine, and James Franco.
Gomez, wearing a sparkling champagne-colored long-sleeved cocktail dress, and Hudgens, wearing a floor-sweeping magenta strapless gown, both by Marchesa, essentially obliterated their relatively clean images within the course of the film’s few-hour screening and Q&A — especially Hudgens. It’s a far, far cry from Wizards of Waverly Place or High School Musical.
The movie centers on Gomez as a party gal with a conscience and Christian beliefs named, appropriately, Faith, and Hudgens, Benson, and Rachel Korine as her friends and much naughtier girls, all dead-set on having the spring break of their lives. They do, filled with booty and boob shaking (more boob shots than any recent non-porn movie on memory), coke snorting, pot smoking, nudity, and general college-age hedonistic abandon. Think Fellini’s Satyricon for the rebellious teen set. They’re permanently in bikinis, whooping and yelling. After getting bailed out of jail by James Franco’s grinning gangster, who has a $ symbol tattooed on his neck, wears a metal grill, corn-rowed braids, has “Scarface on repeat” and drives a Camero with the license plate “BALLR,” things get worse and much more violent for the gals. The audience absolutely loved Franco: hilarious and totally ridiculous, clearly reveling in it. He even raps and sings Britney Spears. The movie’s bass-heavy soundtrack was also a hit, with tunes by Nicki Minaj, and a score by one-side-of-his-head shaved Skrillex, who also attended the premiere.
While Gomez is seen drunk and smoking pot in the movie, Hudgens lets it all hang out, literally. Three-ways, pot, coke, guns, sex with both women and men (Franco). She was modest at the Q&A following the premiere, and had changed into a sassy floor-length leopard print dress. Gomez changed into a strapless red cocktail one.
“It’s nice to push yourself, and transform yourself,” said Hudgens in an understatement, considering her normally family-friendly roles.
Gomez, who warned kids not to see the film, said she was grateful for her Disney roots, but wanted to really branch out. “I wanted to see if I could push myself,” she said. “I think I’ve been put into this little box, and Harmony gave me a chance. … It’s really hard to find something that shows the truth, so raw, so real.”
Korine had just finished the movie, filmed in St. Petersberg, Florida, five days earlier, he said. He had mulled over the idea for Spring Breakers for years, collecting thousands of photos of girls and guys on spring break, in all their spit, sweat, skin, sex, and sun-soaked grit. “I had this idea about girls in ski masks and guns robbing tourists,” he told the crowd. “I did something I don’t normally do. I sent the idea first, not the script first.” Inspired by Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, and YouTube videos, “I wanted it to be like a violent, relentless pop song,” he said.
Franco got that emailed idea from Korine, who also sent him the spring break photos, and he jumped on board. He even spent time, no joke, with a local guy named “Dangerous” for research. The name says it all!
“Harmony wanted to tell a story about this new generation, stylized,” said Franco. “I thought this was going to be cutting edge. As an actor, why wouldn’t you want to play something so far away from you.”
Will Gomez and Hudgens fans accept such a drastic change? Audience members after the premiere chatted about feeling a little bit in shock. But revelers still swamped the street after, taking photos and crushing forward to get a look at their favorite post-Disney queens.
For more film news, including coverage of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival
‘Spring Breakers’ clip: See a new side to Selena Gomez — VIDEO