This Britney Spears vehicle revolves around three childhood friends who rediscover their friendship on a cross-country trip.
The film begins with three ten-year-old girls burying a decorative wooden box in the woods while making a pact to remain lifelong friends. They also vow that upon their high school graduation they will return and dig up the box, which contains items that reflect their goals and aspirations. Eight years later however, Lucy (Britney Spears), Kit (Zoë Saldana) and Mimi (Taryn Manning) have grown apart. Lucy is the virginal valedictorian, Kit is unscrupulously popular and Mimi is the pregnant rebel. On graduation night, nostalgia gets the best of them and they decide to rekindle their friendship and embark on a road trip, each with their own goals. Lucy would like to see her mom who abandoned her when she was a child; Kit needs to confront her fiancé in Los Angeles; and Mimi wants to enter a singing contest. They get Ben (Anson Mount), a mysterious stranger with a bad rap, to drive them across the country in his '73 Buick convertible and in a matter of days--and a couple of 'N Sync songs--seem to forget how much they actually hate each other.
In her acting debut, Britney Spears trades in her trademark Day-Glo tan for a more demure, girl-next-door look. While she cries convincingly with puffy eyes and all, her delivery seems forcibly understated and wooden. For example, when Lucy breaks down and tells her father she feels as though she got nothing out of her entire high school experience, she snaps out of her gloomy mood instantaneously when her father disagrees with her. Anson Mount (Urban Legends: Final Cut), who plays her love interest, Ben, is natural enough and completely suave next to Spears. Except for the scene where he protests a little too much to the girls driving his car (he literally kicks up dirt for what seems like an eternity), he plays the part in a down-to-earth manner without any showboating. The two sidekicks, played by Taryn Manning (crazy / beautiful) and Zoë Saldana (Get Over It), are at opposite ends of the spectrum. While Manning comes across as sincere, Saldana seems like she's playing the part of Hilary Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. For kicks, see if you can spot former MTV VJ Jesse in the background crowd.
How director Tamra Davis went from helming the hilariously clever Half Baked to Crossroads is unfathomable. The characters in the film, especially Lucy and her father, are unoriginal and stick to stereotypes: the rigid blue-collar father who pressures his daughter into medical school, and the all-too perfect daughter who constantly seeks his approval. And even though Davis also tries to camouflage the musical sequences, peppering them throughout the film (Lucy sings to anything that comes on the radio, including Madonna and Sheryl Crow), the movie still comes across as just an excuse for Spears to sing. More blatant is the scene where the threesome takes part in a karaoke competition in the dead of Louisiana. Although Spears' rendition of ''I Love Rock 'n' Roll'' is not that bad, I don't know of any karaoke bars that have a DJ of that caliber (or have an emcee like Kool Moe Dee). Can't pop stars cross over into film without bringing their song repertoire with them?
Crossroads comes across as merely a platform for Spears' music, so it's a movie you'll probably enjoy if you're a fan. Those impartial to the Spears phenomenon will not be sold on the singer-turned-actress' talent and probably already know to skip this coming of age film altogether.