Bomb Rating: 

I think it's rather touching that Britney Spears would pay tribute to that icon of acting, Ralph Macchio, by titling her first foray into cinema to match Macchio's 1986 guitar-playing tour de force. A more appropriate Godfather to Spears's nascent acting career could not be found. Not coincidentally, Macchio himself can't be found these days either.

I'm not clear on why so many people speculate endlessly on whether or not Spears has had a boob job when the real stretch she makes in this film comes from playing the valedictorian of her high school class, a bookish sort who's not very popular. In fact, this is a longer stretch than Bob Dole experiences on Viagra, and the reason we are forced to technically refer to what Britney does as "acting."

Spears reportedly conceived the idea for "Crossroads" herself while filming a Pepsi commercial and not having sex with beau Justin Timberlake. The story involves three childhood friends reconnecting on a road trip after having grown apart in high school. Lucy (Spears), Kit (Zoe Saldana) and Mimi (Taryn Manning) head across the country in a car owned by Ben (Anson Mount). The girls suspect Ben killed somebody in jail but he's so hot it's worth hitching a ride with him anyway (there's a lesson for the young'uns). Lucy is traveling across the country to find the mother who left her when she was three, while the pregnant Kit is going to do some singing tryouts and Mimi is going to visit a boyfriend who doesn't seem to want to talk to her.

The most painful parts of this film do not actually involve Spears, but a cliché-ridden script and some acting by Dan Aykroyd that borders on the criminal. In fact, both Aykroyd, who plays Lucy's father, and Kim Cattrall, who plays her mother, are considerably worse than Spears. Aykroyd's character is like that father from every bad television show who wants his kid to give up her hopes and dreams and pursue a respectable career, like appearing on "Glutton Bowl." These paternal characters are invariably ignorant of the fact that such guidance swells their kids with resentment like a balloon jammed onto a fire hose.

When Lucy finally finds mom, it turns out mom is the bad-drama female counterpart: She abandoned one kid, made a family in another state and for some inexplicable reason, doesn't want anything to do with her first child. Mom goes so far as to tell Lucy she was "a mistake." When a character says something like that, you know her main function is to get off screen as quickly as possible. The movie's stupidest subplot, which I figured out approximately an hour before it was resolved, has to do with the rapist father of Kit's soon-to-be child. Note that every time Mimi mentions her loving boyfriend, Kit looks away as though she's just seen a puppy glped down by an anaconda. I think this sort of gave it away.

I did notice something rather encouraging about this movie, though. When Britney starts singing one of her hip street numbers, she makes the same noise I make when I sit down on the toilet in the morning without having had enough coffee. It's kind of a grunt, a low, semi-whining "uh." That "Crossroads" could establish a connection between Britney's singing and my bowel movements made me realize that there could yet be hope for Britney's creative process.

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