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Paramount Studios presents
Crossroads (2002)

"I didn't make the rules, Mimi. It's not my fault everyone thinks you're a trailer-trash skeeze."
- Kit (Zoe Saldana)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: July 23, 2002

Stars: Britney Spears
Other Stars: Anson Mount, Taryn Manning, Zoe Saldana, Kim Cattrall, Dan Aykroyd
Director: Tamara Davis

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (sexual content and brief teen drinking)
Run Time: 01h:33m:21s
Release Date: July 23, 2002
UPC: 097363405948
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- C-B-B B+

DVD Review

Britney Spears' music career has been a pretty remarkable piece of marketing and media saturation. MTV and the record labels somehow managed to catapult her pin-up looks and questionable singing talent into the superstar stratosphere. Spears, despite her claims of artistic integrity (she co-wrote on her last album!) has always been about aping the success of early Madonna, so following the Material Girl's path into motion pictures seemed the next obvious step for the Immaterial Girl (Not Yet a Woman).

Crossroads, from director Tamara Davis, was obviously carefully crafted to both interest Britney's key demographic (tweener girls) and to play to her strengths (singing, wearing shirts that bare her midriff). Spears plays Lucy, the valedictorian of her graduating class, a girl feeling pressure from her stern single father (Dan Aykroyd—why?) to attend medical school. She's unsure, and feels that she worked so hard at school she missed growing up, and grew apart from her middle school chums Mimi (Manning) and Kit (Saldana).

Lucy is clearly the centerpiece, what with her uncertainty about her future and her desire to find her long-lost mother (Cattrall), who ran off when her daughter was a toddler, but Kit and Mimi contribute their own contrived sub-plots—the former is engaged to an inattentive college boy; the latter is pregnant-by-rapist. Mimi suggests that the three of them travel together to LA to compete in a talent contest, and the others agree, with plans to excise their various demons along the way. Tacked-on is the trip's transportation, a dreamy rebel (Mount) with a mysterious past (Did he kill a guy? Intrigue!).

Spears honed her acting chops in her pre-teen years as a cast member on The Mickey Mouse Club, but I guess she stopped there—she's competent, but tends to overplay emotions and deliver her dialogue woodenly. Her co-stars seem to have been chosen only to make her look better, as all three are fairly unconvincing. Phoned-in performances from Kim Cattrall and Dan Aykroyd don't help matters any.

Davis' direction is unremarkable, and screenwriter Ann Carli has an ear for ludicrous dialogue, but I suppose they really can't be blamed for how Crossroads turned out. The entire film, from character motivation to emotional arcs, was clearly constructed with marketing in mind, to empower the young female audience and provide a commercial vehicle for Spears latest singles. But then, when your star's entire career has been manufactured, why expect anything more from her movie?

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Crossroads looks fine on DVD, but the transfer isn't up to Paramount's usual standards for new releases. Colors look fairly good, with natural fleshtones and no apparent blooming or bleeding, but fine detail is lacking, with many of the brighter "on-the-road" shots looking rather soft. Blacks are nice and rich, but shadow detail is lacking and dark scenes tend to look rather grainy. Compression artifacts and aliasing are also frequently visible, likely due to the copious bonus features included. Not too bad, but not one of the studio's best.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The included 5.1 mix is fairly typical for a dialogue-based picture, though a few scenes feature a nicely expanded soundstage. Dialogue is clear throughout, though with a few obvious instances of ADR, and is anchored firmly in the center channel. The front mains handle most of the action, with limited directionality and little in the way of panning effects. Other than a few scenes with limited ambience in the surrounds, the rears stay silent except when they serve to enhance the pop-heavy soundtrack and the featured concert scenes.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
4 TV Spots/Teasers
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by producer Ann Carli, director Tamara Davis, writer Shonda Rhimes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Britney Spears' music videos for Overprotected and I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman
  2. Edit Your Own Music Video
  3. Karaoke Sing-A-Long with Britney
  4. Photo Gallery
  5. Break Through Britney
Extras Review: Paramount has never been known for creating the greatest special editions, but they've made a real step forward with this disc (why they decided to finally produce a great set of supplements for a movie as vacuous as Crossroads is beyond me). Regardless, Britney freaks (and fans of the film, if any over the age of 12 exist) will find plenty of featurettes to ogle and doo-dads to fiddle with.

Starting things off is a dull commentary track from producer Ann Carli, director Tamara Davis, and writer Shonda Rhimes. The three were recorded together, and they gloss over the interesting issues, like how the film came about, or the process of writing a script that was obviously tailored to fit Britney's perceived strengths (i.e. med-student wannabe turned singer), to focus on dull on-set anecdotes and gushing praise for their merely adequate cast.

Spears herself contributes a second pseudo-commentary in the form of Break Through Britney, a pop-up feature that, when activated, will cause the pop diva's head to sudden appear on screen, summoned from the ether with a bright "bloop" sound-effect, to offer truly trivial comments on a particular scene. For example, the fact that she got to sing along to Madonna was "fun." I never knew making a movie could be so "neat."

Three featurettes are included as well. The first, 40 Days with Britney, is the typical making-of fluff piece, with cursory behind-the-scenes footage and "I play..." comments from Spears and her co-stars. Taryn's T-Shirts is an odd 12-minute piece on the different trailer-trash tops worn by the cast during the karaoke scene, hosted by star Taryn Manning, who seems to be on the verge of narcoleptic collapse throughout. Or maybe stoned. But nowhere else can you discover the secrets to making a revealing cut-off halter top out of an old Van Halen shirt, so rock on with your bad self. Finally, First in Line: Inside the Crossroads Premiere is a 7-minute journey with actress Zoë Saldana to the film's premiere and after party. It's as exciting as it sounds.

Seven deleted scenes are offered with on-camera introductions from the director. The scenes included are mostly extraneous bits of narrative (not to be confused with the "play movie" option) and some stupid outtakes. The entire reel, comments included, runs for about 12 minutes.

Next up are two music videos, one for the Darkchild (?) remix of Overprotected and the other for the grammatically challenged I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman (whatever you say, Britney). An editing workshop allows you to fool around with the mix of said video, but my player didn't seem to want to cooperate with this feature. Karaoke sing-a-longs are offered for these same tracks as well.

Britney's DVD Welcome is a 10-second clip in which the humorously attired star imparts her sincere wish that we have as much fun watching the film as she had making it.

Finally, rounding out the disc are a photo gallery, four TV spots, and the domestic and international theatrical trailers. That's a lot of extras for a movie that includes dialogue like, "Mmm, this burrito is so good."

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Crossroads is a pretty dismal, overdone drama, but it's positively loaded with camp value thanks to ludicrous plotting, a heavy-handed script, and the feature-debut performance of Ms. Britney Spears, teen queen supreme. Best to appreciate Paramount's nice work with the DVD, because films this trashy only come along once in a pop idol's career.

 


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