Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bringing Out the Dark Side

I took a blog day off on Monday for my daughter's 17th birthday. And that triggered another topic for tonight's posting. Two of the actresses who helped shape my daughter's formative years, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, have a new movie out in wide release March 22 that  she wants to see: "Spring Breakers."

The stars of "Spring Breakers."
This isn't your tween Disney movie we're talking about here. The formerly saccharine starlets want to show they are adults now. This R-rated tale is more of a good-girls-gone-bad telenovela, as the former "Witches of Waverly Place" and High School Musical" vixens now play girls corrupted and compromised by Trouble with a capital T during spring break by "the wrong man," played by James Franco (and I really hate mentioning Franco in two blogs in a row). There apparently is drugs, there is drinking, there is sex (or at least the implied version), and there is a lot of bad mojo going down in Florida.

They are in a film directed by Harmony Korine, known for his obtuse stream of consciousness, dark humor and desire to capture the absurd. He is the writer of "Kids," the NC-17-rated, 1995 cult film that was tut-tutted by critics for depicting the decline of youth and the bizarreness of the world. His film, "Julien Donkey-Boy," shows the world through the eyes of a man suffering from schizophrenia, while the cult film "Gummo" abstractly shows a tornado ripping through Xenia, Ohio, while focusing on a strange youth who tapes a piece of bacon to his bathroom wall.

Gomez and Hudgens are following the path of other teen actors attempting to shed their goody-two-shoes image to become grown ups in Hollywood. It has worked out just fine for Leonardo Dicaprio, Johnny Depp, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark Wahlberg and many more. I'm having trouble coming up with female actors who have done the same -- maybe Scarlett Johansson in some films. Emma Watson is trying to break free of Pottermania with her recent roles, including a coming film about vapid teen bank robbers in L.A., called "The Bling Ring." Watson is said to have recently turned down a part in a "Cinderella" remake as she looks for mature parts.

You can't blame Gomez and Hudgens for following that path (and Hudgens' career hasn't been exactly stellar, post-Musical). And some say "Spring Breakers" is no teen-boy fever dream; it actually is a bit of a morality tale amid the underground steam punk vibe. But it's almost laughable the lengths that these two have cast off their Disney togas. Gomez said in a recent interview that she wants to escape the Disney "machine," while Hudgins had said this is a way for young actresses to find their footing while taking baby steps away from their Teen Vogue image.

Even the movie poster is provocative, hinting at bad behavior with the tag line, "A Little Sun Can Bring Out Your Dark Side."

My daughter may still be in a semi-innocent stage but she's already said she doesn't want to miss this film. Should I be worried? If it's done right, I suppose a little edge can't hurt today's youth.  

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