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Starring Britney Spears; Anson Mount Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning with Kim Cattrall and Dan Aykroyd
Written by Shonda Rhimes
Directed by Tamra Davis

IN SHORT: Trash for upper-teens. [Rated PG-13 for Sexual Content and brief teen drinking. minutes]

We've got a niece who once told us that she was into Britney Spears. In the intervening time, puberty hit and, when we invited her to see Spears' big screen debut in Crossroads, she passed in favor of sitting at home with an NSync CD. Our nephew is too young to care about the more attractive ends of Ms. Spears, so we hunkered down with a crowded theater filled with fans. Unlike Mandy Moore's debut a couple of weeks ago, we've seen Spears hold her own on her Saturday Night Live appearances, which is not as easy as you'd think. Of course, other than a couple of skits on that show, we're not starstruck by Spears. We did try to watch her live on HBO and was bored silly within three minutes. So, what's a youthful superstar to do to turn the head of a critic old (barely) enough to be her dad?

She sings a classic Madonna song in her underwear, right off the bat. Works for us. There's a nice pink lace set that shows up shortly thereafter, but Britney's a good girl, which is dealt with in one of the film's subplots, so get your minds out of the gutter for at least a paragraph or two. Once those delights are out of the way and Crossroads gets down to serious dramatic business -- sensitive moments, heavy duty tears, poetry reading and the once in a lifetime decision as to who (and whether or not) to lose your virginity with -- the fanboys and girls in our audience were in stitches.

When they were ten years old, Lucy, Kit and Mimi decorated a box and filled it with items representing their dreams and wishes, vowing to dig it up the night of their high school graduation and to remain the bestest of friends forever and ever and ever and ever. Eight years later, that friendship is dust. Mimi (Taryn Manning) is pregnant and dissed as trailer trash by Kit (Zoë Saldana), a conceited self-absorbed snob. Lucy is the class valedictorian who never learned to party because her mom (Kim Catrell) ran off when she was three and her overprotective dad (Dan Aykroyd) has been riding her ever since. Despite everything, all three show to dig up the box, at which point Joan Jett look-alike Mimi invites them to come with her to LA. There she is going to attend an open audition for a record company and start her path to superstardom, with her old pals as background singers.

A road trip offers the opportunity for one singing star to vamp along with others on the radio with a good choice of tunes (a great gag involving NSync, plus Shania Twain and so on) selected by the creators. A road trip is also a great way for estranged friends to rekindle old ties, and for one young lady to fall in love. (well, d'uh). Ben (Anson Mount), just a guy that Mimi has picked up somewhere, owns the wheels. Lucy and Ben take one look at each other and knees get wobbly. Neither says or does anything as the road trip kicks off. It's a good number of hours on the road before anyone, in this case Lucy, figures out that the money in their pockets is barely enough to get them to LA. Certainly not enough to cover the costs if the car breaks down, which it inevitably does. Thus, it comes to pass that music star wannabe Mimi must step up to the mic at an open karaoke competition and bring in enough tips to keep our quartet solvent. Here we'll stop because everything that follows is by the book for anyone old enough to know better. That includes fans whose movie savvy may come from watching old big screen events on the small screen.

Crossroads tries hard to be to kick Britney Spears' music stardom into multi-genre superstar overdrive. You know what? She almost, repeat almost, pulls it off. In our audience, which totally lost it when Lucy started reading some of that poetry she "had written" (in reality the lyrics to Britney's song "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman") nothing could put the laughter genie back in the bottle. Screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, falling back on story gimmicks so old that they would have been figured out in advance even by a "G" rated audience, send Crossroads down the road to Stinkville at full throttle. Spears delivers all that Rhimes and director Tamra Davis ask for with a stone cold sincerity that could earn Crossroads a regular slot at the local Midnight Movie. Dissing can be fun.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Crossroads, he would have paid . . .


For those in the fangroup, this is a bad date movie. It's not a good thing when the fans walk out muttering words like "horrible" and "terrible," unless they were having so much fun dissing the film that they didn't mind the ticket cost. In this case zero. Your price may vary.

Britney took the interview hot seat for the CrankyCritic® StarTalk pages.

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