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Crossroads (2002)

Viewed: 2/21/02

Did anyone really think this film would be great?  How many pop stars have truly crossed over to Hollywood?  Frank (may-he-rest-in-peace), Cher, Madonna (a bit), Kris Kristofferson, maybe a few others.  For each of those, who saw Pure Country,Glitter,Freejack, or a dozen other failed forays into the land of Oscar?  Okay, I didn’t see Glitter, either, and Freejack  wasn’t that bad. And Pure Country entertains in spite of George Strait’s dismal acting.  Quit arguing with me, will you?  Just go with it here. . .

Anyway, before being so rudely interrupted, I was saying that one has to approach Britney’s film debut with a bit of cynicism.  And the low expectations will be rewarded.  The story is utterly predictable.  The dialogue is cheesy.  The guest stars are wasted.  And Britney’s acting will win her no awards.

Crossroads gang in the convertibleCrossroads tells the story of three childhood girlfriends who make a pact to be best friends forever and to dig up a time capsule on midnight of Graduation.  Flash forward to Graduation.  Lucy (Ms. Spears) has become a shiny goody-two-shoes, working so hard under the pressure of her father (an utterly wasted Dan Ackroyd) that she becomes Valedictorian but has no cool friends and is still a – gasp! – virgin.  Her friend Mimi (played with an annoying lisp by Taryn Manning) is pregnant, bitter trailer park trash.  And Kit (Zoë Soldana) is the homecoming queen, too beautiful and popular for either of the other girls.  Some obvious twists lead them to open their time capsule as planned and then to run off to L.A. with a cute but mysterious older boy named Ben (Anson Mount).  Ben is rumored to have killed a man, but he’s got a car and plays guitar; what more could three naïve 18-year olds ask for? 

I won’t give away the story, though you’ll deduce its direction within 20 minutes’ viewing, but suffice to say all works out in the end.  Lucy reconciles with her father -- whom Ackroyd allows to show no love whatsoever towards her in the scenes when he desperately needs to do so (he should have watched John Goodman in Coyote Ugly to see how to play this type of character) -- she finds love with a nice but rebellious boy, and her friends’ issues all tie up in an overly-neat package.  All is well, and the closing credits show a hippy-styled Brit singing “Overprotected” (I assume to prove how independent she is now). 

Neither of the girls acts even as well as Britney, but how could they with such mindless dialogue?  Kim Cattrall gets about one minute of screen time as Lucy’s estranged mother, begging the question on how Ms. Cattrall was roped into this part in the first place.  And Ben’s okay, but his one major emotional scene comes off as silly rather than truly angry. 

So what’s to like?  I enjoyed the music, which included modern girl power anthems like “Man I Feel Like a Woman” and “If It Makes You Happy” (used as if it were girl power, anyway).  I have always been a fan of Britney’s music; they made a wise choice in using it sparingly, I think, in this case.  “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” is the main song, and it’s one of her best. 

Britney herself acts no worse than Piper Perabo in Coyote Ugly or Jennifer Beals in anything.  The camera never misses a chance to show off her body, Britney with a cute smile.especially the perfect stomach.  Though it’s all a bit of a tease, she’s still quite lovely. 

Also, there is one terrific scene, which feels adlibbed:  Ben offers to show something he’s made to a depressed Lucy.  They enter a glassed-in sun porch, and Britney says, “Is this it?”  Ben comes back with a chuckle, “What if this was it?  Wouldn’t it suck if I was really that bad at cheering people up?”  He then sits at a piano and teaches her the music he’s secretly written for her poem about not yet being a woman.  The scene is simple and touching and doesn’t go on too long.  If only the rest of the film were so free and easy.

I liked Crossroads better than I thought I would, but it’s not a good film.  See it if you like Britney.  Otherwise, blow it off.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, she does have sex in the film; in true Britney Spears form, it all happens off screen!

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