Directed by Tamra Davis. USA. 2002.

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You have absolutely no idea how much I wanted to absolutely hate this movie. I dislike Britney Spears. I don't like her music, or the image she projects. (I realize just how much that makes me sound like an old fart, but being a parent, I qualify for the title.) After watching Britney in her cinematic debut Crossroads I am startled by the revelation that it's not......awful. Just not particularly good.

Crossroads is a done to death teenagers coming of age story. As children Lucy, Kit, and Mimi make a pact to be friends forever. Flash Forward to high school graduation and find that the exact opposite is true. In an effort to get out of town for a little adventure the three decide (for some reason) to travel across the country to audition for a record company accompanied only by Ben, a mysterious stranger who may or may not be a killer.

Crossroads. All rights Reserved.

Britney Spears stars as Lucy, and try as I might, I just couldn't get the images from her I'm a Slave 4 U video out of my head. It's just too much to suspend your disbelief to the point where she's a convincing innocent. Although she does have a few charming moments onscreen moments, they are so few and far between that they seem more the work of her director, and less any effort from Spears herself.

Zoe Saldana follows up her intriguing performance in Centerstage to star here as Kit, the stereotypical spoiled popular girl. In this role she's a complete jerk at the start, and has an overdone change of heart throughout the film. If Saldana doesn't choose her scripts a bit more wisely I have visions of this talented actress/dancer becoming a one hit wonder.

Taryn Manning (Crazy/Beautiful) plays the poorly written "girl in trouble," Mimi. Finding herself pregnant after a drunken evening in a local football field, she decides to escape from Arkansas. Her plan is to embark on a road trip with two people who are barely speaking to her, and a guy she doesn't know to enter an audition in Los Angeles. I have scary visions of Britney's pre-teen fan base thinking that's a SUPER idea (that's the old fart leaping forth again).

Anson Mount (Urban Legends: The Final Cut) plays Ben, the rumoured killer driving the girls from Arkansas to California. (Just for interests sake, can I have a show of hands from everyone who'd begin to feel psychotic travelling cross country trapped with Britney listening to N'Sync? I thought so) He is the one actor in this film I'd be keen to see again. Though it feels at times as though he's just being himself, his guitarist role is genuinely charming, with speckled moments of brooding intensity. Whether it's because he was actually quite good, or that he just appeared that way when compared to the twits he had with him, I genuinely enjoyed his performance.

Silly, done to death story line aside, there is one very important thing that leaps to mind when watching this movie; how INCREDIBLY irresponsible it is. As much as it might sadden me to admit, Britney is a role model for a bazillion teenage girls, who are going to head into the theatre to see the girl they adore sneaking into bars, they'll see underage drinking, they'll see casual encounters. And it's all played as being perfectly fine. Taken as a coming of age story alone it does have a few nice moments, but none that aren't the direct result of Mount. Taken as a movie that (at the very least) the horde of girls in the theatre with me are about to take as gospel, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Jen Johnston
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Material Copyright © 2001 Nigel Watson