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Tamra Davis
Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana, Anson Mount, Taryn Manning, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall
Shonda Rhimes

Dreams change. Friends are forever.
Box Office:
Budget $12 million.
Opening weekend $17.014 million on 2380 screens.
Domestic gross $37.188 million.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief teen drinking.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround
French Dolby Surround

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 7/23/2002

• Audio Commentary from Director Tamra Davis, Producer Ann Carli, and Writer Shonda Rhimes
• “Break Through Britney” - Fun Facts and Inside Comments from Britney Accessed During the Movie
• Two Music Videos
• “The Making of Crossroads: 40 Days With Britney”
• “First In Line: Inside the Crossroads Premiere”
• Seven Deleted Scenes with On-Camera Introduction By Director Tamra Davis
• Sing Along with Britney
• “Taryn’s T-Shirts: How to Make the T-Shirts from the Karaoke Scene”
Crossroads Photo Gallery
• 4 TV Spots
• Theatrical Trailers
• Edit Your Own Music Video


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Crossroads (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Time to exercise a personal pet peeve! A certain portion of the population truly believes that Titanic earned $600 million in the US strictly because of the teeny-bopped audience. This train of thought asserts that the little girls loved Leo so much that they made the flick a hit.

That was - and remains - nonsense. No film grosses that much money due to a niche audience. It also ignores the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio’s follow-up - The Man In the Iron Mask - didn’t do very well, even though it hit screens at the peak of Titanic mania.

It also neglects to take into account the fact that movies featuring teen-oriented stars usually don’t make tons of money. If the presence of these performers guarantees box office success, why don’t studios slap them on the screen more frequently and bask in the riches? Even when the singers do appear in movies, the results usually aren’t pretty. Two-fifths of ‘N Sync showed up in On the Line, but the film made a pathetic $4 million.

Granted, that was a pretty low-profile effort. Folks expected more of another contemporary teen flick, Crossroads. It offered the debut big-screen lead for Britney Spears, one of the world’s most popular singers. Did her success translate to box office grosses? That’s hard to say. Crossroads made a mere $37 million, but given the movie’s $12 million budget, it earned a profit.

I imagine virtually all of that gross resulted from the presence of Britney. Without Ms. Spears in a starring role, I can’t imagine many would have bothered with Crossroads. While not an atrocious film, it seems frightfully thin and bland and never goes much of anywhere.

At the start of Crossroads, we meet three childhood best friends who live in the south, all of whom are 10 years of age. They hold a secret ceremony in which they each bury something they hope will foreshadow their future dreams. The girls make a pact: they’ll dig up the box on the night of their high school graduation.

Fast forward to that era, and we quickly learn the girls grew apart over the years. Virginal goody-two-shoes Lucy (Spears) became the class valedictorian and will eventually go to med school, as preordained by her single-parent father Pete (Dan Aykroyd). Kit (Zoë Saldana) is a fashion plate snob who wants little more than to marry her fiancé Dylan (Richard Voll), a college student in LA. Lastly, pregnant trailer trash Mimi (Taryn Manning) dreams of a better life and plans to head to California to enter a talent contest so she can earn fame and fortune as a singer.

Of the three, only Mimi seems to care about their childhood pact, but eventually the other two decide to check out the box. Slowly they begin to rekindle their friendship. Feeling pressured to live her dad’s idea of how she should be, Lucy decides to accompany Kit because she wants to see her long-departed mother (Kim Cattrall) in Arizona. When Dylan states that he won’t come home for the summer, Kit invites herself out to LA without his knowledge and grabs a ride with the others.

Added to the mix, we find mysterious guitar player Ben (Anson Mount), a hunk with a criminal past. He spent time in the clink, and rumors abound that this occurred because he killed someone. Despite that scary possibility, the gals need a lift, and he owns the car that will get them out of town.

And there’s your plot, or lack thereof! Essentially Crossroads just follows the four young folks as they motor west. Inevitably, they bond considerably. Secrets become revealed, while Lucy and Ben slowly develop a physical relationship.

Anyone who expects surprises from Crossroads will leave disappointed. The movie seems eminently predictable and also extremely dull. Basically, the film consists of a running series of musical montages interspersed with occasional bits of exposition. Really, the flick feels like a bunch of music videos padded out to feature length.

The actors all seem game, but none stand out from the crowd. Many have criticized Britney’s work here, but I find little about which to complain. She doesn’t light up the screen, but she holds her own and does nothing to embarrass herself.

Other than appear in this clunker, that is. None of the main behind-the-camera talent boasts a killer résumé; director Tamra Davis’ biggest success - financially and creatively - was Adam Sandler’s funny Billy Madison. Nothing else on her list seems too memorable, and other than composer Trevor Jones, I didn’t anyone else with any strong credits.

Crossroads clearly won’t do much for their careers. The movie seems insanely cutesy and really appears pointless. It also doesn’t appear too sure what audience it wants to pursue. For the most part, it looks aimed squarely at pre-teen girls who will embrace its “friends 4-ever” message. The film’s sugary montages and sappy female bonding appears tailor-made for that crowd.

However, the movie presents enough adult themes to confuse the issue, and let’s not forget its attempts to woo the middle-aged male perv demographic. After the prelude with the young versions of the three girls, we jump straight to shots of Britney as she dances in her underwear. Within the film’s first 10 minutes, we get another shot of a scantily clad Britney, and we get further examples of her uncoverage as the movie progresses. Speaking for that middle-aged perv audience, I heartily applaud these choices, but they seem weird for a flick directed toward young girls.

Even without those odd moments, Crossroads would remain a mess. The film shoves about five minutes of plot into a 93-minute flick and offers almost nothing creative, realistic or effective during that span. Many will reject Crossroads due to a knee-jerk anti-Britney sentiment, but I think that’s wrong; slam her if you like, but Britney really does possess some talent. Crossroads offers so many other reasons to merit criticism and disdain that it seems self-defeating to focus on its star.

The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B / Bonus B+

Crossroads appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the time, the picture seemed very good, but it displayed a few more concerns than I’d expect for such a recent film.

Sharpness appeared positive. The image always remained nicely crisp and well defined throughout the movie. I saw no instances of softness or fuzziness during this detailed presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, but I did notice some light edge enhancement at times. In regard to print flaws, a few low-light sequences appeared grainier than usual, and I also noticed a few bits of grit.

Colors usually looked fairly solid, as the film’s naturalistic palette came across with reasonable depth and accuracy. On a few occasions, however, I felt the hues seemed somewhat too heavy and dense. Still, the tones generally were fine. Black levels appeared pretty dark and solid, but shadow detail was a little erratic. Some low-light scenes seemed somewhat murky. None of these issues ever became a big problem, but I still felt that a brand-new flick shouldn’t show even these small concerns, so Crossroads earned a good but not great “B” for picture.

In regard to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Crossroads, it also received a “B”, mostly due to a lack of scope. For the most part, the soundfield seemed pretty lackluster, which I must admit I expected for this kind of film. The mix maintained a general emphasis on the forward channels. They offered good stereo presence for the music and also created a decent sense of ambience, but they rarely contributed more than that. Sometimes cars would pan from one side to the other, but usually the different channels stuck with vague environmental material. The club scene helped bring the surrounds to life briefly, but otherwise, the rear speakers did little more than vaguely reinforce effects and music.

Audio quality appeared generally positive. Speech remained natural and warm throughout the film; I discerned no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a small role in the film but they seemed accurate and clean at all times; I detected no signs of distortion or other problems. Music also appeared clear and bright, but low-end response seemed somewhat wimpy. The tunes didn’t pack the bass punch I expected; those elements sounded acceptable but failed to present much force. Ultimately, the audio for Crossroads worked well enough to earn a “B” but it didn’t inspire much passion.

This “Special Collector’s Edition” of Crossroads packs a bunch of extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Tamra Davis, writer Shonda Rhimes, and producer Ann Carli, all of whom sat together for this running, screen-specific track. While it offered some good moments, overall I thought the track seemed fairly mediocre. On the positive side, the participants provided a reasonable amount of useful information about the production. They discussed the genesis of the project as well as the cast, locations, editorial and screenwriting decisions, and a variety of entertaining anecdotes.

Unfortunately, a moderate number of gaps harmed the chat, and the speakers too often degenerated into bland praise. Too often, they told us how great everyone was and how much fun everything was. A little of this goes a long way, and they offered far too much of that sort of happy talk. The three women still seemed genial and likable, and I found the commentary to seem acceptably entertaining, but it remained average as a whole.

Although Britney didn’t appear in a traditional audio commentary, the DVD does include something called Break Through Britney. This operates along a modified “Pop-Up Video” format. If you activate this feature, Britney occasionally appeared and related some details related to her participation in the film.

Make that very occasionally, as in almost never. We see Britney a handful of times at best, and these show up sporadically throughout the film. It becomes very frustrating and not just because we get so few comments from her. Even when Britney does remark, her statements seem completely banal. She tells us how much fun everyone was and how much she enjoyed making the film. The only moderately interesting stories she tells - about a motorcycle ride with Dan Aykroyd and her kissing scene faux pas - already appear in the other audio commentary, so Britney provides absolutely no new and interesting information. If you read another review that states “Break Through Britney” is anything other than dull and useless, don’t believe them - I seriously doubt anyone who praises this feature actually sat through the whole thing.

Within the “Featurettes” domain, we get three pieces. The longest of these, The Making of Crossroads: 40 Days with Britney runs 25 minutes and 32 seconds. It presents a combination of film snippets, shots from the set, and sound bites with participants. In the latter category, we hear from director Davis, writer Rimes, producer Carli, music supervisor Dan Carlin, and actors Spears, Zoë Saldana, Taryn Manning, Anson Mount, Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall, and Justin Long.

As with many of the DVD’s extras, the quality of “Days” will depend on the viewer’s age level. For those in the target audience, it seems like a fun piece. We hear basic notes about the film and the characters and see lots of goofy footage from the set. The program offers little real information, though, and it doesn’t present the “video diary” that it purports to provide. Younger viewers will probably like it a lot, but others may find it boring. Probably the most compelling segment comes during the end credits, when we see a raw version of Britney’s “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” when first performed with Mount’s character.

An unusual “how to” program, Taryn’s T-Shirts runs 11 minutes and 45 seconds. Hosted by actress Taryn Manning and clothing designer Jackie Dennis, we watch them as they teach us how to make the special T-shirts from the “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” segment. Since I doubt I’d look good in a spangly, cut-off T, I found this piece less than useful, but I thought it was a creative effort that should be fun for kids.

First In Line: Inside the Crossroads Premiere gives us a seven-minute and 15-second look at life behind the velvet rope. It follows actress Zoë Saldana as she and her family head to the LA premiere, and we get Saldana’s point of view as she goes through the various events. It sounds more interesting than it is, for it presents little insight into the process. Mainly it’s “we’re in a limo!!!” and the like. Again, younger viewers might enjoy it, but the program seemed uninformative to me.

More useful were the Deleted Scenes With On-Camera Introductions By Director Tamra Davis. This running program lasts 11 minutes and 46 seconds and packs in a few different segments. We start with actual excised scenes, and the last few minutes include outtakes. The deleted pieces did little for me, but some of the outtakes were fairly entertaining. We see a lot of Justin Long adlibs, and we also watch a particularly goofy extra from one scene. This stuff’s more compelling than anything in the final film!

As for Davis’ introductions, she nicely sets up the clips. She lets us know where they would have come in the movie, and she provides some production notes about them. More importantly, she clearly tells us why they didn’t make the film.

Next we find two of Britney’s Music Videos. The better song and the better video, “Overprotected” (The Darkchild Remix) starts as a theme piece, as Britney watches a TV report about her “scandalous” outfits. This concept returns at the end, but in between, she just lip-synchs and dances. She looks very hot as she does this, so I shan’t complain.

I felt less entertained by the second video, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”. A dull ballad, the video combines shots of Brit on some desert cliffs with scenes from the movie. It’s a fairly bland piece.

Curiously placed in the second screen of supplements, we find Britney’s DVD Welcome. It lasts a whopping 10 seconds as Brit tells us a) she enjoyed making the film, and b) she hopes we’ll like the disc. This feature also appears at the start of “Break Through Britney”, so it’s redundant if you’ve already watched the movie that way.

Sing Along With Britney lets you perform with two songs. “Overprotected” uses outtakes from the film and provides all of Britney’s original song; you just croon on top of her vocals. However, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” goes for a truer Karaoke feels. Some back-up singing appears, but you’re on your own for the main vocals.

We get more of “Not Yet a Woman” in the Edit Your Own Music Video workshop. This lets you rearrange three parts of that video in any order you choose, though you can’t repeat clips; you can’t run snippet one three times in a row. It’s simplistic but moderately entertaining.

In the Photo Gallery, we get a collection of stills. This area includes 65 shots in all. Most of these provide simple publicity images from the film, though the last handful of them offer some behind the scenes pictures.

Inside the Trailers and TV Spots domain, we find a few different clips. We get the domestic theatrical trailer, the international theatrical teaser trailer, and some MTV promos. The latter are the most interesting. Each of the four focuses on a different character - Lucy, Kit, Mimi and Ben - and includes material unique to these pieces. They’re not terribly compelling, but at least they’re different.

Unfortunately, Crossroads seems neither compelling nor different. It offers a bland and lifeless little teen “coming of age” story that appears competent at best and inane at worst. The DVD features fairly good picture and sound along with a pretty nice roster of extras. Fans within the pre-teen girl target audience will likely enjoy this set very much, though some adult content may mean that parents want to give it a look first to make sure it’s suitable for their kids. For anyone outside of Britney’s main demographic, skip this dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.758 Stars Number of Votes: 62
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