It looks like spring break 2020 will be remembered more for the break than the spring.
From Florida to Mexico, spring break festivities — pool parties, beach parties, hotel parties, party parties — have been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. To stem the spread of the virus, many locales have closed beaches, enacted curfews and limited access to bars and restaurants, effectively canceling spring break. (But not everyone is listening.)
Of course nothing can replace the feeling of a clingy T-shirt soaked in cheap beer. There’s no bigger thrill than the crisp clap of a massive belly flop made by an actual massive belly. To counter spring break withdrawal, here are five movies that will bring sun and fun (and beefcake and cheesecake) to your screen in these dark times.
Ever wondered where spring break as a thing came from? Start with this classic CinemaScope romp about four coeds (Connie Francis, Dolores Hart, Paula Prentiss and Yvette Mimieux) who spend their spring vacation under the Fort Lauderdale sun strategically flirting up a storm with young men on the make (including George Hamilton, Jim Hutton, Frank Gorshin and Rory Harrity). Directed by Henry Levin, the film features frivolities like dancing and making out, but also jazz and, surprisingly, a pensive ending. In his review for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther was gentlemanly — and timeless — in his description of spring break: “Here are all these youngsters jammed together, on the beach, in beer joints and motels — coeds from state universities, fellows from the Ivy League — flirting and making passes, with only one thing on their minds. That is xes spelled backwards.” Francis, a popular singer at the time, scored a chart-topping hit with her version of the title theme song.
Spring Break (1983)
“It’s the reason kids go to college in the first place.” That’s how the trailer sets up the rowdy shenanigans in this quintessential spring break film, about two friends (David Knell and Perry Lang) who visit Fort Lauderdale for a spring break bacchanal. With only debauchery on the brain, the film checks every spring break box: barely-there bikinis, a wet T-shirt contest, sex aplenty. The movie is also a time machine back to the randy Golden Age of early ’80s teen sex comedies like “Porky’s” and “The Last American Virgin” that made pearl-clutchers clutch even harder. And talk about pivots: “Spring Break” was directed by Sean S. Cunningham, who in 1980 led lustful teens down a less pleasurable path as the director of the original “Friday the 13th.”
The horror genre loves to upend a beloved tradition — Christmas, birthday parties, birth itself — into an opportunity for mayhem and massacre. Spring break is the target in this under-the-radar oddity that marries the slasher film and the beach party flick, two genres that share a love of “naked girls and stupidity,” as one critic put it. The director, Harry Kirkpatrick (possibly a pseudonym for the Italian director Umberto Lenzi), uses pool parties, sweaty machismo and topless young women to set the mood. The outlandish script has something to do with an angry biker gang, fratty spring breakers and a leather-clad killer who rides a motorcycle that doubles as an electric chair. Fans of bargain-bin ’80s horror will find plenty to enjoy: a hair metal soundtrack, girls with feathered bangs, guys in mesh tank tops, studded headbands and a busybody preacher. For a spring break horror movie double feature, add “Piranha 3D” (2010), a gory dark comedy about flesh-eating fish who ruin everything.
Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild! (2008)
Who says you have to be straight to act a fool at spring break? Directed by Todd Stephens as a follow-up to his 2006 film “Another Gay Movie,” this is a raunchy, vulgar, candy-colored gay sex comedy about four friends (Jonah Blechman, Jake Mosser, Jimmy Clabots and Aaron Michael Davies) who travel to Fort Lauderdale for spring break and enter a contest to see who can sleep with the most men. The reviews were as painful as a sunburn; The Times called it “wretched gaysploitation.” But hang on: It’s worth it to see RuPaul play Tyrell Tyrelle, the frisky resort manager, a year before “Drag Race” first began its ascent. The film is also a camp flashback to Gay 2008, with performances by the New York City nightlife deities Lady Bunny, Amanda Lepore and Lypsinka; the Kids in the Hall actor Scott Thompson; the celebrity gossip Perez Hilton; and the gay porn performers Brent Corrigan and Colton Ford.
Spring Breakers (2013)
This one’s for hard-core party people who don’t mind a spring break of booze, breasts and a body count. Directed with abandon by that auteur of the abject, Harmony Korine, “Spring Breakers” is set during a sleazy spring break in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the annual coming-of-age tradition becomes a playscape of sexual excess, drugs and indiscriminate violence. Told through the eyes of four young women (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) who fall under the spell of a drug dealer (James Franco), this is a spring break that would be unrecognizable to the innocents of “Where the Boys Are.” Is the film a social satire about millennial carnality and privilege? Is it a flashy and fleshy heterosexual fantasy that’s equal parts “Jerry Springer Show” and “Cops”? Is it a horror movie? Maybe it’s all of those — just like spring break should be.