Spring Break movies are a unique beast. While there might not be direct research into this, it seems that these films are offshoots of the "beach, blanket, bingo films" from the 1960s. As the genre really seemed to catch fire in the late 1970s and then in the 80s, the connection between the two is actually more acute than one might think.
The beach movies of the 1960s were simple, fun and represented All American values. The spring break movie, truthfully, hailing more from the 1980s than the 70s, are similar in that their characters are looking for fun and a good time. However, spring break films have a devilish side, and that makes for many moments of boobs and butts that my generation has never forgotten. Yes, when you have a Spring Break movie, you can expect to see some sex!
How could we ever forget some of these cinematic moments? With our fantasies, literally, laid bare before our very eyes in such films as Spring Break and Where the Boys Are are, these films would go on to forge a genre that still elicits calls of "Spring Break!" whenever their titles are mentioned. Making them even more memorable is when they actually have something to say (She's All That) or when they make us laugh until it hurts (Reno 911!: Miami). Recently, this entire genre was subverted with Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers as that expanded it even further.
That these films can be love stories, tales of terror or easy fun, only seems to increase their staying power. Like the party movie, who doesn't want to have spring break even when it's out of season. These movies last because they are part comedy, part fantasy, but always, always a good time. Quite simply, spring break is a state of mind that we all want to be in.
So, as summer starts to rear its glorious, glowing head from around the corner, spring is in full bloom and these films are ever more topical. With their different plots and interesting take on the human condition, what could be better than a list that attempts to put them all in one place? So put on the suntan lotion, lay out by the pool and enjoy the "11 Best Spring Break Movies of All Time"!
Spring Breakers - 2013
Leave it to the iconoclastic Harmony Korine to give us a post-modern take on the spring break film. The story is simple, some girls head down to Florida for spring break and end getting more than they bargained for. Or, do they? That is where the brilliance of this film lays. Whether it was Korine casting against type with the likes of Disney sweethearts Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, or letting his camera lens linger just long enough to show how vapid this party culture can be, Spring Breakers may not be a great movie but it breaks the spring break movie mold into a million pieces. As this story moves forward, we constantly hear "Spring Brrreaaaaaaakkkkk!!" until that itself becomes a rallying cry for just how little the culture behind this world has to offer. That, if nothing else, makes this a special spring break film.
Piranha 3D - 2010
A remake of Roger Corman's late 70s classic, this version reveled in gore, violence and nudity. Featuring such solid thespians as Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd, this remake shows what happens when an underwater earthquake lets loose a swarm of killer fish in Lake Victoria. Suddenly, some concerned residents have to save a bunch of newbies from becoming fish food. Like most spring break movies this one serves up copious amounts of nudity and blood. What makes it so entertaining is the fact that it actually has a really good cast (did we mention Elisabeth Shue and Jerry O'Connell are also in it?) that has to deal with all of this. Spring Break was never acted so well!
Spring Break - 1983
What makes Spring Break such a seminal...Uhm, spring break film is the fact that it has some cool guys showing some not so cool guys how to have a good time. This is a classic plot device of this genre. When Stu and O.T. show up to Fort Lauderdale for a great spring break, they discover that their motel room has been double-booked. Never people to just walk away from a good time, they take up with the bookish Nelson and Adam. Suddenly, the odd couple turns into the "bod" couples as these guys search out girls, girls, more girls... and beer. Sure, there's a subplot about how the hotel they are staying at is in financial trouble, but does anybody really care about that? This is a spring break film for crying out loud! Looked at from that angle it fires on all cylinders.
Shortly after beating the jocks in the Alpha Beta fraternity in the first film, the nerds of Tri-Lamba head to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to attend a national fraternity convention. Sadly, Alpha Beta is also in attendance and want to settle the score. Now the nerds have to fight to be on the beach! Okay, you have a Revenge of the Nerds film set on a beach in Florida. If this doesn't scream spring break movie than we don't know what does!
Where the Boys Are - 1984
This film is based on the movie with same title from 1960. At this point, that is where the similarities pretty much end. This new version follows four college girls to (where else?) Fort Lauderdale for spring break. As this is the 1980s, it can't just be that simple. Or, can it? There's the prude Jennie; the vivacious Carole; the stuck up Sandra; and the sex, naked, ready to bed down Laurie. Along the way on this adventure we see these girls grapple with life, love, misunderstandings, and just about anything you might expect where the name of the game is spring break and getting it on. This might just be the class of 1980s best spring break movie!
The Beach Girls - 1982
Again, the 1980s comes through in this tale of beach fun. When Sarah's (Debra Blee) Uncle Carl (Adam Roarke) invites her to stay at his beach house for the summer, she of course brings her college friends Ginger (Val Kline) and Ducky (Jeana Tomasina). They talk Sarah into throwing a huge party, and soon the neighbors are upset. Uncle Carl comes back to yell at the girls but soon joins in the fun. Okay, this may not 100% be a spring break film but, come on, when the vibe is there and you have that spring breaky feel, some times you just have to go with it.
From Justin to Kelly 2003
Alright, before you click to something else because you can't believe this horrible movie is on ANY list, you have to hear us out. Timing is everything. Had From Justin to Kelly been made as Justin and Kelly were competing on American Idol, and then been released right after the show, this movie would've made bank. As a result, when it came out many months later, it felt like an also-ran. In this musical (what else could it be?), Justin (Justin Guarini) arrives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for spring break with his friends. He quickly meets Kelly (Kelly Clarkson). Justin falls for Kelly instantly, but Kelly's jealous friend, Alexa (Katherine Bailess), does everything she can to keep them apart. Look, this spring break film really has it all. Young people in the sun, misunderstandings of the heart and musical numbers to boot!
Spring Breakdown - 2009
With a cast that includes Amy Poehler, Park Posey and Rachel Dratch this film seems like it would make a mint today. Well, back in 2009 when it came out the best it could muster was a debut at the Sundance Film Festival (figure that out), and a straight-to-DVD release. Who says those types of films can't make fine spring break movies. The tale is simple, our three stars take a vacation at a popular travel spot during spring break. Alright, nothing about Spring Breakdown really re-invents the wheel. In fact the most notable thing about this film is its cast. However, it is refreshing to see the usual spring break tale flipped for the female's perspective.
She's All That - 1999
This sleeper hit of 1999 is not really a spring break film at all...But it is. High school hottie Zach (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is the envy of his peers. Things take a turn when his cheerleader girlfriend, Taylor (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), bails on him for dopey reality-television star Brock Hudson (Matthew Lillard). In an attempt to save his reputation, Zach takes on an impossible challenge. He has to turn nerdy outcast Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook) into the school's next prom queen. Sure, spring break pretty much takes a backseat to this whole film, but it is important to the plot AND it's nice to see how a little spring break goes a long way.
The Real Cancun - 2003
Reality TV gets into the mix with this one as 16 young Americans head to Cancun, Mexico. While there, they indulge in copious amounts of sex and booze. Taking place over the course of 11 days, the students -- all in the classic roles of ladies' man, party girl and virgin -- are stalked by cameras as they drink more than anybody should, and try to bed down with as many members of the opposite sex as circumstances allow. Sure, the fun of this film is sort of stilted by the Reality TV vibe (as you're getting your party on you don't really want to think about real life do you?) BUT it gets a lot right and was sort of a pre-cursor to films like Spring Breakers.
Reno 911!: Miami - 2007
The title says it all, right? When bumbling officers (Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney) are finally allowed to attend a long sought after law-enforcement convention in Florida, things don't seem like they can get any better. However, the fun in the sun becomes serious business when a terrorist attack occurs. Somehow, every officer in Miami is not available, so it is up to the Nevada cops to provide justice. Spring Break really gets the treatment here in both the comedic and socio-political realms. This offering from 2007 is what the spring break genre was made for!
How'd we do? Are you putting on the lotion and getting out your favorite tank top? Or, did we put sand in your eye? Was our list totally tubular? Or, did it wipe out? Let us know!