Britney Spears is the male's ultimate contradiction. She is beautiful and sexy, but if you're caught dead listening to her music, ridicule shall come your way, and for good reason. Enter Crossroads, her feature film debut, a largely girl's movie about three high school graduates that go on a cross country trip seeking freedom and love. It is a chick flick in all respects, except for one: the visual quality of Britney.
I'll give it to Ms. Spears for trying something a little harder than your typical teen comedy. In fact, despite its marketing, Crossroads is not a comedy at all; it is a relatively lighthearted drama. The issues of teen sexuality, drinking, and rape are all presented here, the perfect blend for Spears' target audience, young teenage girls <note sarcasm>. But, does that make Crossroads original? Does that make it good?
Crossroads is moderately entertaining, featuring a few funny scenes and a fast-paced story. The first fifteen minutes are exceptionally good, at least from a guy's perspective, because Ms. Spears spends most of her time running around in tight T-shirts and underwear (there are a few other "nice" scenes throughout the rest of the movie, but very spaced out). Spears doesn't absolutely massacre her character, although I wouldn't suggest delving into anything too deep in the years ahead. Unfortunately, where there are good things, there are bad things, and they tend to outweigh the positives.
The script is completely dreadful. It is not that the dialogue is terrible all of the time, but the way screenwriter Shonda Rhimes attempts to go from conflict to conflict is downright terrible. At one point, one of the girls admits that she was raped, but within a few seconds, they have moved onto other business. In another scene, the romantic interest of the film (Anson Mount) jumps out of his car screaming and kicking because he is so upset, but then admits a moment later that it is just challenging putting up with females for a couple of days. In several other scenes, Dan Ankroyd's failed character as Spears' protective father spits out so many cheesy lines that it is almost impossible to take. Maybe Rhimes should have read over her script once or twice and focuses on the most important issues, and tackle those instead of the whole world.
The other problem I have with this movie is that its approach to teen issues are quite troubling. For the most part, I don't think any of this was intentional, but considering that the target audience is the very influential young teenage girl age group, they should have been more careful. The girl who was raped never goes to the police, which is understandable, but even after the other girls find out who it was, the storyline is just dropped, and the rapist basically gets away free. This might be closer to true life, but what does this say to younger girls...? If you're raped and you don't go to the police, the guy might get away but you'll end up okay? There's also the issue of romance. In the movie, Britney Spears hops out of the taxi and runs to the man of her dreams to go the way she wants to go, which just happens to turn out to be singing. This makes sense, but isn't this saying that it is super easy to just go right from high school - bypassing college altogether - and become a singer? I also wasn't too crazy about Zod Saldana's spiel about her fat camp escapades when she was little. She is very pretty in the movie and we never get to see her as a "plump" girl, so how is the teenage audience going to know what is considered fat and what is considered skinny?
Crossroads was better than expected, but still had a lot of the flaws I was expecting. The acting wasn't all that great, but it was the script that was the real problem. Watching Britney Spears is always fun, but from a guy's point-of-view, the first fifteen minutes is enough to satisfy anyone's thirst (short of nudity, that is). From a girl's point-of-view, there are better movies like this out there.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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