Ummmmm. First of all, what is this movie.
I saw this movie by myself and thank God for that otherwise I would have been laughing too hard to pay any attention. I still did laugh which was weird because the only other people in the theatre were this sort of odd young couple who I asked to watch my bag when I went to the bathroom and when I came back I realized I didn’t have my cell phone and for like three minutes I thought they stole it but then I figured I probably left it in my car and that is exactly what happened. Crisis averted.
But. First of all, this movie which is now joining a long list of movies that I was SUPER excited about then were horrible disappointments (ala Watchmen and Scary Movie 2) when they finally came out. What looks good in a preview -which is generally two to three minutes long and devoid of any real heft of thought- doesn’t usually hold water for two hours. Which is exactly what happened. This movie was like an extended preview for this movie. There were jump cuts from one thing to another, none of the characters had ANY background or explanation WHATSOEVER. The only thing we know about these girls outside of what’s currently going on was these weird phone calls they make to their moms/grandmothers that are on some sort of slam poetry loop effect with sentences and sentiments repeating to the point where you feel like one of the screenwriters (so Harmony Korine) read Catch-22 like a month before he wrote this and was like, “this is cool. let me try this.”
That repetition is most memorable in Riff Raff, I mean James Franco, I mean Alien’s twangy utterance “Sprang Brake” that he repeats like a mantra to the point of humor. Speaking of humor- for a movie that’s about four girls who do drugs and downward spiral into a neon life of crime in South Florida or wherever the hell they are there are a lot of things to laugh at. The biggest one however is a scene that is one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen, including David Lynch movies.
At one point after Selena Gomez, the religious one, (WHO IS NAMED FAITH) and Rachel Korine (the slutty one/Harmony’s wife- like an inverse 90210 thing happening there) have left and it’s just Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson and Alien. James Franco (Alien) sets up shop on this white grand piano he just happens to have parked in his backyard by a pink-lit pool, and starts playing ‘Everytime’ by Britney Spears and singing it. Slowly. To himself. Then, the girls- wait, Rachel is still there because the three of them come out wearing tiger print tankinis, pink ski masks with unicorns on them and sweatpants that say “DTF” on the ass. And I think they’re all wearing Uggs. What am I saying, of course they’re wearing Uggs. Anyway, they come prancing out all carrying these semi-automatic guns and they start singing Britney Spears too, THEN THE REAL SONG PLAYS OVER THEM and we’re just listening to Everytime by Britney Spears. The entire song. I mean, I like surrealism and even this was too much for me.
I have a notebook I carry with me in my backpack to write down anything I might need to write down and sometimes when I’m watching movies I take notes and one of my notes on this movie was simply, “Marie Antoinette meets Hustle and Flow.” I’ll just let that speak for itself.
This movie felt like people playing roles, not like real characters. In the very beginning of the movie when the girls are hanging out together they’re so hyper-sexualized it’s to the point of absurdity. To me, their dialogue sounded like a fantasy of female sexuality. For example, Vanessa Hudgens upon seeing some cash or weed or something goes, “Seeing all this makes my pussy wet” TO HER THREE FEMALE FRIENDS. Like, what? Who tells their friends that? She also mimes a very graphic blowjob (also to her female friend) and holds money up to her chest and says “it makes my tits look bigger.” ………………….
Juxtaposed with the very pointed dialogue he gave ‘Faith’ which was like hearing someone read fortune cookies for two hours. Everything she said was this weird vague optimism or generality. “I’m starting to think this is the most spiritual place I’ve ever been” -Faith on the phone to her grandmother while people do body shots and beer bongs. (Can you ‘do’ a beer bong? I didn’t really know how to write that. New things everyday).
Ugh also the opening credits are like that one scene in Wedding Crashers where they’re sleeping with all the girls at the weddings and they keep throwing them down on the beds and it’s ‘boobs boobs boobs’ but longer and with more boobs and asses and longer. Like the whole opening credits are set to bouncing female anatomy. I felt like I was in an arthouse porn, or Sweden the country.
Ugh also they kept saying in these CHEESY voice overs “I think we found ourselves here” “it’s so amazing/magical/beautiful” “everything is a dream” all that kind of stuff. There’s this one scene that I did think was really impressive- it’s outside a bodega in the parking lot, and the three who committed the robbery to get the money for their trip are relaying to Faith (who was not involved) what they said and did. Because the actual robbery (the other good scene in the movie) is shot from the outside as the car rolls by all the windows and Nicki Minaj’s “Moment for Life” is playing on the radio and is the only sound. That was a really interesting scene.
Anyway so they’re telling Faith- up until this point they’ve been kind of lascivious, deviant, playful, sweet, young. Then they get HARD AS FUCK and start yelling and being super aggressive and it’s a complete tonal change, it makes you kind of uncomfortable to watch (Hard to Watch- the Tracy Jordan Story) which makes it interesting.
James Franco as Riff Raff was funny but never believable. I just wanted it to be Riff Raff rather than someone playing Riff Raff. (Playing Alien). Like it clearly was Riff Raff- Riff Raff and Harmony Korine are friends, they played basketball while this was shooting, Riff Raff has said on his Twitter countless times about ‘his’ movie- it’s definitely Riff Raff. But James Franco just never shook the joke of it. You never forgot he was James Franco, actor, who probably thought it was hilarious to dress up and get his hair cornrowed and get fake gold teeth and neck tattoos and play this character. Which is all it ever was, a character, it never transitioned into a real person. I felt that way about most of the roles.
The most interesting interactions came from the two girls (Vanessa and Ashley) after the first two left. It was kind of a weeding out process of sanity and once they were gone there were no checks and balances and you kind of felt like it was a crazy contest. Which it was. In one scene, Ashley and Vanessa seem to turn on Alien and hold his gun up to his head and are like, “why don’t we just kill you, then we’d have all your stuff” (their logic is impenetrable) and they put the gun in his mouth, but then he starts miming fellatio and then they all start laughing and he’s like “I swear to God I just fell in love with y’all” and as a viewer you’re just like, okay we’re completely leaving reality as a place and going somewhere else. Where that is, I’m not entirely sure I just know we’ve left what my twenty-three years of living on this earth have demonstrated human interaction to be.
At the end of the movie they go on this revenge mission (because Rachel got shot and territory or whatever) to GUCCI MANE’s house. Also if you didn’t pick up on that, Gucci Mane has a role in this movie. In one scene he was wearing his three scoop ice cream necklace, you know the one his face tattoo is based off of, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Selena Gomez cheated on Justin Bieber with him (reportedly) and thinking how poor Justin Bieber is never going to come back from that. A black man with a face tattoo- he’ll never be harder than that. Ever.
But so they’re going to Gucci’s house to kill everyone and James Franco gets shot IMMEDIATELY, down like a sack of potatoes, and there’s a split second where you’re wondering what the girls are going to do because they haven’t even gone in yet, they could turn around and leave but they just keep running past him like he was slowing them down and they go in this mansion (that looks like a bowling alley on glowpaint night or something) and just kill everybody. Like everybody. They even kill the two girls (who couldn’t look more different than them-curvy and ethnic vs. skinny and white) that Gucci was about to have a threesome with/had been continually having threesomes with.
Then as they’re leaving they kiss James Franco’s corpse on the lips and run out. The End. The credits roll in that Times Square Chinese Name Font in hot pink. It was stylized very well- but I’m gonna say I was exactly right in my notes and say that this is Harmony Korine’s Marie Antoinette. Yikes. Basically it lacked any kind of deep thought traveling through it. There were these shallow echos of thoughts that were literally just repeated at the audience: “This is meaningful to them” “They are changing” “Spring Break has meaning” but you can’t just say things, you have to show them and that just did not happen. Aside from their outfits the girls didn’t change, things kind of didn’t make sense, motivations and plots seemed like afterthoughts and still were handled in this weird, “I’m being vague because this is abstract and poetic” way when really they were being vague to not say anything.
UGH I had such high hopes. Oh well, there’s still Bling Ring and that movie that isn’t Drive 2 but is Drive 2.