By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 15, 2002
OH, THANK you, Britney.
You gave me such a spectacularly memorable movie ¿ "Crossroads," your screen debut ¿ that I am left in a state of near-bliss. It does wonders to a critic to know that you could be a continuing font of teen and post-teen kitsch for years to come.
If you work hard enough, you could even achieve the legendary status of a Kathie Lee Gifford ¿ I mean, when you get really older. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I do have faith in you in the immediate future, because you have such towering confidence in your abilities as actor, singer, sex symbol and America's Sweetheart. For that bubbly confidence, I salute you.
Speaking of bubbles, nice work on the product placement, too. I refer to that famous soda that you often advertise and which is prominently placed in a motel-room scene.
In the interests of fairness, however, let me take this occasion to point out that Coca-Cola also makes a fine line of products, including regular Coke, Diet Coke and Cherry Coke.
Let's talk about the movie, though. After all, there are certainly snatches of story between the product placement and shots of you in your underwear or other striking garments de fashion.
You play ¿ and I think "play" is the right word ¿ Lucy, the valedictorian daughter of a car mechanic and single father (your near-lookalike, Dan Aykroyd).
Your great pals are Kit (Zoe Saldana) and Mimi (Taryn Manning), who made a pact with you eight years earlier that each would follow her dream. Mimi wants to be a singer. Kit wants to be a bride. And you want to find your mother, who left you when you were very young (who in her right mind would leave Baby Britney?).
Upon graduation, you and your friends take that opportunity. Mimi and Kit are headed to L.A., Mimi to sing in a record company audition and Kit to see her fiance. You join them because your mother lives in Arizona.
Driving the slick '73 Buick convertible is Ben (Anson Mount), a mysterious Older Guy who played in the band during the graduation dance. Can I say this? Ben is a hottie!
I think it would be taxing for myself and all the readers out there to sum up the highs, lows and other feelings I experienced watching your movie. Perhaps I should just say, it's a road movie for three girlfriends who follow their dreams, find themselves and do a lot of joyful singing with certain sodas in their hands.
Of course, we know what the real high point is! 'fess up, Brit. We're gonna hear you singing, aren't we? During a karaoke contest, you get to fill in for Mimi who (after an entire life spent hoping for this moment) suddenly loses her nerve. Lucky, that! And then, you do what you do best: You show that tummy!
We're yearning, too, for you and Ben to get together. That opportunity arises when he asks to read your poetry. When he sets it to music and then you start singing, side by side with Ben at the piano.
"It feels like I'm caught in the middle/ That's when I realize/ I'm not a girl/ I'm not yet a woman . . ."
Brit, when I heard that song, I felt like that Mike Myers character Linda Richman on "Saturday Night Live," who gets all verklempt, or overemotional, at the mere mention of another phenomenon: Barbra Streisand. I'm feeling verklempt about you right now. Readers, please talk among yourselves, I need a moment. Britney Spears is neither girl nor woman ¿ discuss.
CROSSROADS (PG-13, 94 minutes) ¿ Contains sexual content, teen drinking and a cavalier attitude toward the wearing of seat belts. Area theaters.