Spears plays Lucy, the beautiful but brainy valedictorian of her graduating high school class in a small Georgia town. She can carry a tune, but her divorced dad (Dan Aykroyd, in a role we've seen from him too many times before) has decided she will not study music in college but will instead study to become a doctor. Because of her focus on studying, she has missed out on the high school experience and has lost touch with two close childhood friends. After graduation, the three girls put their differences aside and reinvent their friendship by digging up a time capsule they planted as kids. Ah, they have something in common after all: The desire to get out of their small down. Lucy, the all-American girl, wants to meet the mother who left her at age three; Kit (Zoe Saldana), the fashion queen, wants to see her fiancé at UCLA; Mimi (Taryn Manning), the expecting mother, wants to pursue a singing career. And Mimi's mysterious guitar-playing friend Ben (Anson Mount) agrees to take the girls on a road trip to California in his '73 Buick convertible.
Their journey is littered with problems. The car breaks down and requires the trio to spend their entire trip money to fix it. Desperate to raise cash, Lucy sells her body to passers-by -- uh, wait a minute -- I mean, the girls enter a karaoke contest, where Lucy wows the crowd with her rendition of "I Love Rock and Roll." In an instant, the once shy valedictorian has become a singing diva, exercising the moves of a seasoned pop star. But wait, Lucy is Britney Spears - of course she can dance!
From that point on, the melodrama is piled on so thick it becomes too difficult to emotionally identify with these characters' struggles. Lucy is somehow able to locate her mom but painfully learns her mother has no desire to pursue a relationship with her. Kit learns her fiancé is sleeping with another woman and at the same time, discovers he caused Mimi's unplanned pregnancy. And then Mimi falls down a flight of stairs and loses her baby! Ben is so smitten by Lucy that he writes music to accompany one of her poems (lyrics to Britney's song "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman") - which starts a very adult romance between the two.
The film bounces between this slow moving, sappy melodrama and what amount to music video performances by Lucy and her Pips (Kit and Mimi). Every event is so well choreographed that the outcome of each storyline can be predicted well before it unfolds on screen. Not one performance is the least bit convincing, especially Spears', whose attempts at drama garnered giggles and sneers from my audience -- which might explain why her character's "emotional" visit with mom is relegated off-camera.
Crossroads does nothing to enhance what precious little acting talent Spears has, turning into a shameless promotion of her music and her image. In just the first 15 minutes, we watch Spears dance around her room in skimpy pajamas, strip down to her bra and underwear during a striptease for her chemistry lab partner, and dry off from a shower in their seedy roadside motel room. No opportunity to linger on her body is passed by through the rest of the film, either. In terms of the music, we only get two slightly palatable numbers that are performed with the force of a real pop star, not the inexperienced character that Spears is supposed to be portraying.
At least Mariah Carey's Glitter fared even worse than this. But Spears' efforts in Crossroads will not make her a movie star either, and I'll be very surprised to see her turn up in another lead role. The only real question is if Crossroads will actually hurt her career. Will video kill this radio star? Stay tuned!
Well, she's not dead yet, but her DVD is no better than the theatrical version of this dog, despite a gazillion extras from deleted scenes to music videos to a commentary track. No, Britney doesn't offer her cogent thoughts here, she is instead relegated to perhaps the most worthless DVD extra I've ever seen: Buried on the disc is a special "introduction" from her that lasts about 10 seconds and consists of her speaking to the camera saying, "Ha, Ah'm Britney Spears, 'nd Ah loved makin' Crossroads." Also worth noting: Director Tamra Davis believes Britney is a "so good!" actress.
Girl, you'll be a woman. Soon.
Run time: 93 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th February 2002
Box Office USA: $37.1M
Box Office Worldwide: $5.7M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 89
IMDB: 3.2 / 10
Director: Tamra Davis
Producer: Ann Carli
Screenwriter: Shonda Rhimes
Starring: Ralph Macchio as Eugene Martone, Joe Seneca as Willie Brown, Jami Gertz as Frances, Joe Morton as Scratch's Assistant, Robert Judd as Scratch, Steve Vai as Jack Butler, Tim Russ as Robert Johnson, Dennis Lipscomb as Lloyd, Harry Carey, Jr. as Bartender
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