Spring Breakers

Of the dozens of Disney starlets that flourish every year, Selena Gómez is one of the few with staying power. Besides her overexposed romance with some floppy haired dude whose name escapes me, Gómez has developed an unremarkable career in music and has a few wholesome features under her belt (Montecarlo, anyone?)

The baby-faced, long-legged Selena popped up in two films today at TIFF, with one more scheduled for later in the week (Aftershock). One confirms her status as the Taylor Swift of acting (not a complement), but the other one should at least put a dent on her good-girl act. Would the real Selena Gómez please stand up?

Spring Breakers (United States): I don’t have a good opinion of Harmony Korine (Gummo, Trash Humpers). Transgressor for transgression-sake, Korine is just lucky enough the New York intelligentsia shares some of his sensibilities. Spring Breakers doesn’t even qualify as a fun teenage romp, it’s just a number of improbable events tied together as some spiritual quest.

Four vacuous college girls have dreams of debauchery, but can’t afford them. A stick-up provides them with the cash, and the starting point of a career for a couple of them. After some minor troubles with the law, the group is adopted by a gangsta nicknamed Alien (James Franco), who has the guns and the money to speed up their learning curve.

For the first half of Spring Breakers, the protagonist is Gómez, a good girl gone bad. Her role (a rather boring one) is eventually overtaken by Franco and the movie gets better for it. Korine clearly allowed him to do as he pleased with the role and the actor is at his best when his characters are drenched in hedonism (see Pineapple Express).

The barely competent Korine has never enjoyed an actual spring break and it shows. In his mind, it’s a never ending orgy akin to nirvana. I fear for mankind if this portrait were to be accurate. For those wondering, there is no Gómez nudity, but former High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens goes a little further than expected. Then again, there were those photos… Two prairie dogs with tiny dreadlocks. They look like porcupines.

Hotel Transylvania (United States): How to top Harmony Korine self-indulgent fantasies? Easy, with the latest Adam Sandler romp! Thankfully, Sandler as a cartoon is far more tolerable than the real thing. In Hotel Transylvania, the inexplicably successful comedian is Dracula, the manager of the aforementioned establishment. The goal of the hotel is to serve as shelter to beleaguered monsters from those evil humans (role reversal!)

In this incarnation, Dracula has a daughter, Mavis (you guessed it, Selena Gómez!) who is eager to see the world. The overprotective vampire must also fend a suitor, an obnoxious backpacker (the appropriately cast Andy Samberg). Some mild hilarity ensues.

The plot is ho hum, but whenever director Genndy Tartakovski (Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Lab) highlights the absurdity of the situation, the film shines (the background has so much going on, it may only be justly appreciated in blu-ray). Sandler brings all his friends into the fold, but only Steve Buscemi as a henpecked version of the Wolfman excels. Hotel Transylvania may not be your destination of choice, but I’ll bet is better than the bed-and-breakfast I’m staying at. Two were-dogs.

Tomorrow, two thousand journalists and industry people face in a battle royale for one of 500 sits to watch The Master. I’ll be channeling my inner Katniss.

Random notes:

* My initial reaction to Spring Breakers –negative as it was- was retwitted by… Spring Breakers 2013 (@SBmovie2013). I guess there is no such thing as bad publicity.

* I also watched John Dies at the End, but it’s so completely bonkers, I wouldn’t dare to review it before seeing it again or talking to director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep). In a related story, I’ll be interviewing Coscarelli next Wednesday.

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