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Monday, August 17, 2015

Bad Movie Month meets up at the Crossroads with Britney Spears

Our next Sad Singers On Screen spotlight this season on Bad Movie Month falls on Britney Spears, as her 2002 film debut in Crossroads takes the stage. Much to my surprise, this movie has been the most watchable one of the bunch so far.

That doesn't mean that this is a good movie at all, it's that the sour story lines go down a little easier with the overwhelming sweetness that's sprinkled in. Britany stars as Lucy, one of a trio of school girl chums who went their separate ways during the high school years.

They reunite after graduation to dig up an old box of memories, a vow made eight years prior, and upon rediscovering their old dreams, decide to go on a road trip together. Sounds nice, right? Well, trust me, folks-this is a trap!:

 That set-up is intended to lower your mental guard and accept such things as Lucy being considered a nerd who only wants to go to medical school to please her father(an overbearing Dan Ackroyd).

Yet, for a girl supposedly smart enough to be the class valedictorian who intends to have a double major in college, we never get to hear her big graduation speech or see her show any interest in becoming a doctor. Also, she certainly doesn't dress or act like a bookworm and while I'm not saying she should gotten all frumpy, Britney's character is decidedly not a Rory Gilmore type at all.

 The only signs of Lucy's alleged intelligence are being able to use a calculator to figure they don't have enough money for car repairs,knowing what's wrong with the car in the first place(her dad's a mechanic, so I will let that one slide) and writing poems in a notebook that she carries around everywhere.

Yes, she does read one of those poems aloud and it happens to be the lyrics for "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman", a tune so wretched that it won Worst Original Song at the Razzies the following year. Strangely enough, Lucy is often given a chance to sing despite the fact that her pregnant pal Mimi(Taryn Manning) is the one with the musical ambitions here.

 For example, the car that the girls and their token guy Ben(more about him in a moment) happens to break down in New Orleans and luckily, one of the local bars is having a karaoke contest that could win them enough cash to fix their vehicle! As fate would have it, Mimi gets stage fright and guess who takes over the mike? Why, our dear oh-so-shy Lucy, of course!:

Lucy does find love on the road with Ben(Anson Mount), a guy who all of the girls first believe is a convicted killer, something that maybe one of them should've verified before getting into his car there.  As it turns out, Ben went to jail for helping his stepsister cross state lines to get away from their abusive step dad.

 It's a rare back story that allows a guy to look noble while violating the Mann Act but the penned by Shonda Rhimes' script has her signature blend of soap opera drama and chick flick whimsy. The only really bad thing Ben does in this whole movie is throw a hissy fit when the girls take over driving duties while he sleeps. Uh, isn't it a good plan to switch drivers while on a cross country road trip? Dude, seriously, lighten up!:

 Meanwhile, Lucy has a disappointing reunion with the mother who ditched her when she was three ( played briefly by Kim Cattrell, whose face is set in "Where the hell is my check?" mode) and Kit(Zoe Saldana) catches up with her fiance, who has been avoiding her like the plague.

 In a real daytime soap twist, Kit's beau is not only cheating on her but was the guy who took advantage of a drunken Mimi and got her pregnant!  That revelation is followed up by the horribly classic trope, Convenient Miscarriage Via A Fall Down the Stairs. Yeah, they went there, with a sadly lit shot of Mimi's falling key chain tumbling downward. The soundtrack even had a "All My Children" vibe to it at that point.

That mix of melodrama within this vanity project gives it a bizarrely bland aftertaste, sort of like potato chips dipped in tapioca pudding. That blandness also describes Britney's acting ability, which goes from blah to merely mediocre at best. Certainly, that style is what helped her to get a Worst Actress Razzie, making Crossroads a two time winner there.

 Despite the negative critical response to the movie, it did make a tidy sum at the box office on opening weekend, then fell hard and fast from there.  It did earn enough to cover the film making budget and then some, with most folks saying "Well, it was better than Glitter!" Not really much of a compliment but sometimes, you have to take what you can get there,folks.

Tune in for our last stop on the Bad Movie Month tour, as Marky Mark shows us his definition of Fear and until then, let us all be grateful that Britney has mostly stuck to singing(apart from a couple of cameo roles) for the foreseeable remainder of her career:

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