HOLLYWOOD—If you walk into the theater suspecting “Spring Breakers” to be a comedy hoopla, you’ll be greatly disappointed, but it is for sure one hell of a ride.  This dark comedy/thriller provides a sleuth of surprises from former Disney starlets Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens who portray Faith and Candy.  Those good girl images that have been attached to Disney stars are no where present in this picture, and it’s a welcome change for both actresses who display some gritty acting chops.

Faith and Candy are members of a quartet that includes Ashley Benson “Pretty Little Liars” and Cotty (Rachel Korine), all college students hoping to have a festive spring break, but there’s one problem: no money.  While Gomez, does display a risky role, she is still a bit innocent compared to her gal pals who seem to have no penance for their actions.  The same can be said for Cotty, who is drawn by the allure of being bad in the beginning.  Faith is a bit stunned by her BFF’s who chose to rob a fast food restaurant to obtain the cash needed for their vacation.

Benson definitely departs the sassy mouthed character that she is known for on the ABC Family hit “PLL.”  Hudgens is a thrill to watch, as her character continues to go down a dark path.  The group’s vacation is going as planned until they meet Alien, a white rapper portrayed by acting auteur James Franco.  Franco is known for tackling complex characters, but this one takes the cake.

Franco has the grill, the slang and the image near perfection. It’s absolutely a polarizing role for the actor. Alien takes such a liking to the girls that he bails them out of jail after they are arrested, which leads to an eye-opening threesome involving Brit, Candy and Alien.

As the girls become more accustomed to Alien’s lifestyle they begin to discover that it’s a dangerous world to say the least as they meet a rival of his named Big Arch (Gucci Mane). The interesting issue with “Spring Breakers” is one’s expectation going into the picture is quite different from the reaction you have upon leaving the theater.  The spectator is quite conflicted about what they just saw depicted on the screen.

We’ve all been on spring break or have heard stories about spring break incidents that are not so happy go lucky as adults would like to think.  Bad things sometimes happen with the addition of alcohol, causing lapses in judgment.  I found myself so thoroughly invested in this quartet of characters it was not difficult to spilt the actresses from their roles.  The picture directed by Harmony Korine (the husband of actress Rachel Korine) displays a social critique of pop culture which many of us are aware exists, but we sometimes turn a blind eye to it.

The allure of celebrity and fame can be quite dangerous, reckless, and inescapable for some. “Spring Breakers” has its share of violence, sexuality and language that is not suitable for children, but adults will be enthralled with this tale of a spring break gone terribly wrong or right depending on your perspective.

By LaDale Anderson