If Paramount is in dire need of a break-out quote for Britney Spears’ combined feature-film debut and big-screen product-placement campaign (bored viewers can distract themselves by counting the number of times Clairol Herbal Essence and Pepsi products find their way into the frame), I offer them this: “It’s better than Glitter!” Beyond that I’m not willing to go. One presumes the film is squarely aimed at 12-year-old girls (who want to grow up to be Britney) and 12-to-17-year-old boys (who want to see Britney’s fabled torso). The boys haven’t long to wait. Crossroads isn’t many minutes old before our heroine is dancing around her room in a bra and panties (the latter carefully taut across the back and tastefully baggy in the front), singing to the radio. (It’s kind of a dumbed-down T & A variation on the opening of Adventures in Babysitting, with less point and a much worse song.) The girls … well, they’re gonna get what they want: Britney in bad situations, Britney in love, Britney finding success, etc. As far as parents are concerned, they might get more than they bargained for, since the film also offers us Britney drunk (playfully cute drunk, of course) and Britney’s first sexual encounter (the camera tactfully panning to the ocean when things heat up, of course). Now, if you’re outside those particular interest groups, there’s not a whole lot here beyond a pretty sanitized “road” movie about three childhood chums — Britney, Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning — driving across the country with a fellow — Anson Mount — who just might be a murderer. At least the girls think he might be a murderer for part of the movie, but since he’s obviously slated for Britney’s romantic partner, the viewer knows better. Of course, if the viewer really knew better, he or she would be at another movie. OK, maybe that’s a little harsh, but not much. After all, we have three wet-behind-the-ears girls crossing the U.S., now what do you supposed will happen? Will they all learn life-lessons? Will their friendships find new strength? Will they emerge with greater maturity? Will it all work out in the end? What do you think? Does Britney drink Pepsi? The most absurd of the trio is — not surprisingly — Britney, whose character is going to Arizona to meet (uninvited and unannounced) the mother who deserted her when she was 3 years old. If this doesn’t sound like a bizarrely wrong-headed plan for an 18-year-old class valedictorian, take it up with the screenwriter. She finally hooks up with mom (Kim Cattrall) and is cryptically told, “We need to talk.” At that moment, I was truly hoping the film would take an interesting turn and mom would confess that her real mother was a jackal, show her the 666 on her scalp and we’d be off into Omen territory. No such luck — even though Britney later warbles her famous song about being “not a girl” and “not yet a woman,” which seemed to suggest something of that sort. It’s not the worst movie around, but it may be the most pointless and immediately forgettable one.
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