Retro Review: Crossroads

Pop-sensation Britney Spears trickles onto the silver screen in her motion picture debut. She follows other musical acts into an acting career and she hopes her legions of teen fans will follow. From the huge success of the “Beatles” films to the “Madonna” movies to disasters like “Cool as Ice”, Hollywood loves to create movie-stars out of pop superstars.

The only question is where Ms. Spears will end up.

Three young girls bury a box of their dreams in a field and make a pact to dig up the box after they graduate high school. The three girls are Lucy, Mimi and Kit. Lucy (Britney Spears) is the virtuous valedictorian virgin. Mimi (Taryn Manning) is the tormented “trailer-trash” tart. And Kit (Zoe Saldana) is the popular polar princess.

When Mimi decides she must take a road trip to California for a music audition, the girls find that they have reasons for following their friend on the road trip. The three girls team up with Ben (Anson Mount), a shady scarred songwriter who promises to drive them to Los Angeles.

“Crossroads” is a bad teen-cable movie that has collided with a Mac-truck called “theatrical release”. Screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, who wrote the teleplay for the critically-acclaimed “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”, must have pulled out the old cliché book when she concocted this script. The screenplay is so atrocious that it never gives the audience or the actors a chance to breathe. Some of the clichés are three typical teens who represent all teen cliques.

Each character trio seems like it was plucked out of an after-school special. Second, we have the grizzled and sculpted drifter who is ten years older than these girls. Third, we have the trio sexing it up to get money to fix their car. (How many times have we seen that?) This script is shameful at best.

Director Tamra Davies (Guncrazy, CB4, Billy Madison) has a wide range of films to her credit. This director knows comedy and drama. What happened when she got her hands on “Crossroads”? I mean the film is flat, unenergetic and has very uneventful panning shots. I really enjoyed Davies when she directed 1993’s “Guncrazy” but she seems bored stiff with this project.

From the first scene we see Britney, she is dressed in tight very revealing underwear and she sings to Madonna. This not only sets up this film but Britney’s actual acting desires. Britney is trying so desperately to follow in the footsteps of her idol, “Madonna”. When Madonna launched her acting career in 1985 with “Desperately Seeking Susan”, she didn’t take the title role and relied on casting and the smart comedic direction of Susan Seidelman.

Britney’s mistake is that she does take the title role. Her acting range and depth is so limited that she isn’t even really given a chance to try. I think she could have probably played the “Kit” character and had more success. Then cast Lucy with a more seasoned actress like a Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Love Hewitt or Reese Witherspoon. This idea could have helped make this film a little more credible and enjoyable.

I admire Britney for trying but she should have started with an ensemble film like the promotions for “Crossroads” promised. The actors she surrounds herself with seem as insecure with acting as she is. Britney does have to remember to keep trying though because even her idol had more overtly bad flops than hits. Anyone remember “Shanghai Surprise” or is Sean Penn the only one?

(1 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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