It would be a grim day for the movies if every picture were as dignified as "Gandhi," but that's no excuse for an indignity as craven and amateurish as "Spring Break."
Now disgracing several area theaters, "Spring Break" achieves the latest update in mindlessness by monitoring the activities of two wimps from the Midwest (David Knell and Perry Lang) and two animals from New York (Paul Land and Steve Bassett) who arrive in Ft. Lauderdale for the annual collegiate bacchanal.
Unlike the savory "Where the Boys Are," which romanticized and glamorized the Ft. Lauderdale rites of a generation ago, "Spring Break" proves incapable of sustaining the flimsiest thread of plot or locating the faintest semblance of romantic attraction among the throngs of sun-worshipping, beer-swilling, sex-starved youth. On the contrary, it panders desperately to a segment of the youth audience that must be hedonistic to the point of jibbering imbecility.
The "content" of "Spring Break" consists of bug-eyed ogling of anonymous, blurry swarms of buxom girls who threaten to ooze out of their bikinis or burst out of their T-shirts, interspersed with vicarious participation in such organized revels as belly-flopping contests, relay beer-drinking contests, "erotic banana-eating" contests (obviously a contradiction in terms) and wet T-shirt striptease contests for exhibitionists male and female.
Although a platoon of interchangeable overdeveloped cuties obliges the filmmakers by taking it off at the drop of a clapboard, there's nothing "going on," and this peculiar absence of human interest has the presumably unintentional effect of deadening sexual interest. Since there's no differentiation between the girls--they're not even different physical types, and they're all looking for just one thing from the guys--the imagination has nothing erotic, nothing anticipatory, nothing suggestive, to conjure with. Ever notice how unarousing it actually is to be on a crowded beach in the glare of sunlight? Sean Cunningham hasn't, unfortunately, so he persists in acting as if there's nothing sexier than an interminable parade of T&A.
An hour elapses before a young actress is allowed even a fleeting opportunity to suggest "a character" and function as anything more prominent than a walk-on stripper. Cast as a coed who demonstrates an inexplicable crush on one of the wimps, Jayne Modean is scarcely a "find," unless a third-string Shelley Long qualifies as a find, but the fact that she doesn't have to take her shirt off gives her the only trace of feminine distinction in the show.
"Where the Boys Are" was built around the contrasting romantic situations encountered by four contrasting coeds. The failure of "Spring Break" to allow more than token female representation in this holiday collegiate culture would appear to be inexplicably dumb, unless the producer's demographer wrote off women moviegoers in advance.
One of the amazing things about contemporary bad movies is how something worse invariably shows up to demonstrate that the bottom hasn't been scratched yet. Now that "Spring Break" has made "Porky's" look relatively classy, a challenge clearly exists for a filmmaker bold enough to attempt something more degraded than "Spring Break." We won't have to wait long. SPRING BREAK
Produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham; written by David Smilow; director of photography, Stephen Poster; edited by Susan Cunningham; music by Harry Manfredini; executive producers, Mitch Leigh and Milton Herson in association with Fogbound Inc. for Columbia Pictures presentations. This film is rated R and runs 104 minutes.