Spring break captured on film

Photo by Julian Jensen, via flickr

Madari Pendas/Staff Writer 

It is difficult to find an Oscar-worthy spring break movie. The genre of spring break movies has habitually recycled plots, portrays Miami as a city devoted to bikinis and fiestas, and shows that true love, albeit transitory can be found within the sybaritic environment that is spring break. The movies on this list are chosen for their novelty, interesting commentaries on adolescents, comedic value, and for some, the cheesiness that makes them so bad they’re good.

1. “Where the Boys Are”

This film was released in 1960 and is one of the first movies that chronicles teenagers going to Miami for vacation. Instead of highlighting and glorifying the hedonism of spring break, four adolescent college women explore the varying meanings of femininity and friendship. The film offers some serious discussion on female sexuality, and challenges the assertion of domesticity and women’s place in the world. The progressiveness of the attitudes in the film is amazing, especially considering the era and the subjugating mentality that was pervasive during the 1960s. The film, unlike many of its modern contemporaries, explores the dark side of spring break, showing the exploitation that can occur, the vulnerability caused by intoxication, and realistic consequences.

2. “From Justin to Kelly”

I can vividly remember the first season of American Idol. Brian Dunkleman was still co-host; Randy, Simon and Paula were still judging; Kelly Clarkson sung a breathtaking rendition of “A Moment Like This,” and Justin Guarini’s corkscrew curls wobbled as he walked on stage. This movie is a by-product of American Idol. It was American Idol’s first way of capitalizing and marketing their stars, as well as using the loyalty of their fans for merchandising gains. The novelty of this movie comes from the cultural impact American Idol had on society. The movie in and of itself is gimmicky, trite and formulaic; and has been called “a monstrous Idol movie musical that in the most generous light is the worst film so far this century.” “From Justin to Kelly” has the same entrancing quality as “Troll 2”: it’s so bad, it’s good.

3. “Spring Breakdown”

For Saturday Night Live lovers: “Spring Breakdown” encapsulates quick wit, some of the best female comedians in the industry, like Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch, and a sinuous plot, with lots of unexpected occurrences. The film takes place in Fort Lauderdale during a spring break, where three women, feeling dissatisfied with their lives, go on vacation. The film comically portrays relationships and the struggle between generations– the older women having a difficult time assimilating and identifying with the younger women.

4. “Spring Breakers”

Part of the joy of watching “Spring Breakers” is seeing the transformation of James Franco. Franco dons long braids, multiple tattoos and silver grills; and the lead actress, most of whom are originally Disney stars, shed their PG skins and play manipulative, violent, overly-sexualized femme fatales. This film deviates from the spring break genre and presents a much darker worst-case scenario version of spring break, instead of fluorescent drinks and parties, the audience witnesses addiction, the harm of bad association and murder. The film is an interesting experimentation on the “coming of age” adventure that pervades most films; while most films depict the positive outcome and upbuilding person that results from adventure, “Spring Breakers” shows the duality of the situation, showing the equal inclination of youth for both good and bad. In one of the last scenes from the film the protagonist narrators over a mass murder, and says “they have found who they truly are.”  This cult film presents youth honestly and explores the gravitation some adolescents have towards misconduct.


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