After suffering through one of the worst winters in America’s history (unless, of course, if you live in California), the season of spring is finally upon us. For those in college, this means you will be heading out to Florida to wander around the beach and soak in the sun for a week or two. This is the time for young adults to be fancy free and revel in the freedoms they have while they still have them. Once they graduate from college, it’s all downhill from there.
Then there are those who prefer not to get caught up in any kind of drunken debauchery and instead observe the activities of spring break from a safe distance. For that, there are some highly entertaining movies you can watch that will show the occasion of spring break at its most thrilling and bizarre as well as at its most thoughtful.
Here are the best movies about spring break presented to you in no particular order.
This one came out in 2012, and it is still stuck in my head after all this time. Directed by Harmony Korine who wrote the controversial Kids and directed Gummo, it follows four girls as they celebrate spring break in St. Petersburg, Florida. In the process they rob a restaurant to get money for the trip, do a large amount of drugs and alcohol, and they make the acquaintance of local rapper and gangster Alien (James Franco at his scene stealing best) who is eager to bring them into his criminal lifestyle.
Harmony Korine said he wrote Spring Breakers to make up for not indulging in his own spring breaks as he was busy skateboarding. While it has been described as a neo-noir film, it’s a fantasy of sorts as the characters engage in the kind of hedonistic behavior we would be best to avoid. Beautifully filmed by cinematographer Benoît Debie and scored by Cliff Martinez and Skrillez, it allows actresses like Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens the opportunity to completely shed their goody two-shoes image to play characters engaging in law breaking activities. Whether or not you agree with what the characters do in this film, it is a giddy delight that will have pieces of dialogue stuck in your head for what feels like an eternity.
Alexandre Aja’s remake of Joe Dante’s 1978 film Piranha might seem too cheesy for some, but those who criticize it for that completely miss the point; it’s supposed to be incredibly cheesy, and that’s what makes this particular remake loads of fun to watch. Spring break has come to a small town by the lake, and its inhabitants get caught up in the craziness very quickly. Jake Forester (Steven R. McQueen) is eager to get up close and personal with his old crush Kelly (Jessica Szohr), the sleazy Girls Gone Wild-like producer Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell) is excited to catch all of the debauchery on display, and Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) is doing her best to keep law and order strong while so many in town throw caution to the wind. And then there are the piranhas, and they are really hungry…
While a lot of remakes take the films they are based on far too seriously, Piranha 3D does the exact opposite and is far more enjoyable as a result. Having Elisabeth Shue in it was a masterstroke as you can never really go wrong with her, and the 3D effects are surprisingly well done. There’s also inspired cameos from Christopher Lloyd as a crazed marine biologist and pet store owner, and from Richard Dreyfuss who plays a character that should instantly remind you of another he played in a certain Steven Spielberg movie.
Where the Boys Are
This 1960 coming-of-age film was the one that inspired thousands of college students to flock out to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for their spring break before it became what we know it to be today. It follows four very different college girls who spend their spring break seeking out adventures and romances for themselves, and it is one of the first teen movies to deal with adolescent sexuality and the changing morals and attitudes among college students. It features an early performance from that infinitely tanned actor George Hamilton, and Paula Prentiss won the Laurel Award for Best Actress for her performance as the “baby-making machine” Tuggle Carpenter.
There was another Where the Boys Are movie that was released in 1984, but you don’t want to bother with that one.
There’s Nothing Out There
Before Wes Craven’s Scream starting laying all those clichés from the horror movies we grew up watching to waste, there was Rolfe Kanefsky’s There’s Nothing Out There. In it, several teens travel up to a cabin on a lake for their spring break, and they get attacked by a monster that is very eager to mate with the females there. Fortunately for these teens they have Mike (Craig Peck) on their side, and he has seen every horror movie that has been made, so he knows how all the clichés work and of what to expect. Granted, his friends are quick to dismiss him, but they eventually discover that they need his help to escape a situation they have no business being in.
There’s Nothing Out There was made on a shoestring budget, so you can’t expect much in the way of production values. Still, it’s great fun to see how Kanefsky gleefully skewers all those horror conventions we grew up on with such relish. He still hopes to make a sequel to this someday, and I imagine it will easily be better than Scream 4.
While it may not be as good as Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock or King Creole, Girl Happy is far and away one of the most entertaining Elvis Presley movies you could ever hope to watch. Presley plays Rusty Wells, a nightclub singer who ends up getting hired by a Chicago mobster to keep an eye on his daughter while she’s on spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But things get a little complicated when Rusty falls for the mobster’s daughter, and this leads everyone to a surprisingly comical resolution as a result.
This is a very fun beach party movie, and that’s even though Elvis never takes off his shirt as he had previously. Heck, he even wears long sleeves in a scene where he is water skiing. You could criticize it for not having more depth, but that would just be taking the fun out of it.
Have a great and safe spring break everybody!