As winter begins to subside, students around the country anxiously await their annual rite of passage: Spring Break. And while a younger generation might think that MTV’s pilgrimages to Daytona, South Padre Island and Cancun were the start of the fusion of music and Spring Break, cinematic history suggests otherwise. The Spring Break movie musical is the ultimate in campy melodrama and the older versions are sure to bring about some laughs. So whether you are a year-round working stiff or are strapped for cash, pick up one of the following Spring Break movies available for rent at your local video store, pour yourself a pina colada and enjoy!
Girl Happy (1965, MGM Studios) – Starring Elvis Presley, Shelley Fabares, Harold Stone, Fabrizio Mioni
This film features Elvis as a singer asked to escort the daughter of a Chicago mobster on her first-ever trip to Fort Lauderdale. And while this Spring Break movie has all the romantic twists and turns one would expect, its real value is the beauty of both the landscape and the Spring Breakers.
Notes for serious Elvis fans:
-This film features Elvis’s only known recorded appearance in drag.
-Many of the tracks for this film were sped up making Elvis’s voice sound higher. When these tracks were re-released in the 1990’s, the tracks were re-adjusted back to normal speed.
Where the Boys Are (1960, MGM Studios) – Starring Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux, Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis
This is the gold standard of the campy Spring Break movie musical genre. When four young women just can’t take the frigid weather, they make a break for Fort Lauderdale in hopes of finding Ivy League husbands. The title song remains one of Connie Francis’s greatest hits. From scenes of the Fort Lauderdale police department battening down the city’s hatches to the perfectly coiffed and tan Yalies, the film has each aspect of the Spring Break movie captured in an impeccably corny fashion. However, be forewarned, the plot takes a surprising and highly controversial (for its time) twist, and does so in an impressively subtle manner.
From Justin to Kelly (2003, 20th Century Fox) – Starring Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Katherine Bailess, Greg Siff
Unfortunately, the Spring Break movie musical has not had much of a revival in the last forty years. However, this recent attempt is worth at least a mention. The plot is quite similar to “Where the Boys Are” – guys and girls road trip to Florida for a little bit of sun and fun and a chance at meeting the right guy or girl. However, this version isn’t wrapped up in the gender norms of almost fifty years ago and thus loses some of the kitschy charm. And as you might imagine, two American Idols with little professional acting experience surrounded by a no-name cast does not bode well – not that acting was ever the hallmark of a great Spring Break movie. But shoddily put-together dialogue and weak music are simply unforgivable. While the previous two movies were good to laugh with, this is a good movie to laugh at. If Kelly Clarkson’s career lasts another few years, talk show hosts will certainly be pulling footage of this in attempts to embarrass her.