Emphasis on the perfect.
I LOVE Crossroads. It is an almost perfectly broken thing. It doesn’t aim very high, and it fails at everything it attempts. All this, plus a moment of ineffable transcendence. You should watch this movie*.
The movie opens with three friends burying a shoe box full of dreams in a field. Though they have not really been introduced they are
- White Trash Girl (later Pregnant White Trash Girl with Speech Impediment)
- Bitchy Popular Girl (we are later told she was a chubby child, but she’s clearly not)
- Britney Spears’ Idea of a Normal Girl (played by her little sister, who is, at the time of this writing, an unmarried, pregnant teen)
We cut forward to The Last Day of School. Britney is singing along to Madonna in her underwear because A: This is what Normal Girls do. and B: There are probably some boyfriends in the crowd. Then her dad, Elwood Blues (Now Fat) walks in and tells her to hurry, or she’ll be late for her speech as Valedictorian. Because in this movie Britney is not only a Normal Girl, she is The Best Normal Girl EVER.
Moments later Britney is insulted by being called a virgin. The person insulting her is the Bitchy Popular girl. Then the Pregnant White Trash girl shows up and everyone is mean to her. Best Friends No More Forever!
NOW! We have three of the major themes already. I know, it’s only like five minutes in. The first theme is FRIENDS FOREVER? Can you stay friends with the people you got along with when you were six for the rest of your life no matter how much you change and develop differing interests? Spoiler Warning:
The second theme is Britney is normal but better. This makes her unpopular. It’s important to be aware that while she didn’t write the movie, the plot and characters really were from the mind of Ms. Spears. So what you see here is Britney’s idea of what a nice normal girl is like. She’s a good singer, and super smart, and her dad loves her even if he is over protective, and she’s gonna be a doctor and also her mom abandoned her for no reason.
Britney has parent issues.
Theme three: Britney needs cock. Her virginity, and attempts to lose said virginity are bizarrely prominent. Which would make sense if this was a coming of age movie. Which it is. Sometimes.
The movie continues in this disjointed way throughout. It muddles through comedy, attempts at Girl Power drama, a budding romance and the occasional horrible musical number (the most UN-rocking version of I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll EVER). Characters are all poorly sketched cyphers, and best of all is Britney Spears as the unpopular brainiac who almost sleeps with her lab partner out of desperation. While the other performers can at least fulfill the shallow roles they’ve been given, it is entirely impossible for any viewer to accept the Pop Princess as a shy, quiet genius who never went to parties, and spent all her time studying. It is roughly the worst possible casting, and it makes for this brilliant tension the entire time. In a movie where everything is fake, nothing is faker than her.
Highlights include Britney meeting her mom (Kim “The Slutty One on Sex and the City” Cattrall), who is a huge bitch about everything, won’t let Britney meet her half brothers, and tells her she was an accident, for no real reason. An awkward and mostly incoherent romance between Britney and some guy who she thinks might be a murderer, who is out of jail at like 21, so clearly he didn’t even get nailed for Man 2 let alone Murder. The culmination of that awkward romance in the most unsexy scene in the movie. And then, the coup de grace.
Crossroads is a movie that aims low, and fails anyway. Except for one scene. Suddenly, almost out of nowhere (repeat viewings yield subtle clues) the movie decides to shift from lighthearted-coming-of-age-romance-road-trip-friends-forever-girl-power-musician-vehicle to Serious Drama. And it fails so completely that it becomes a special kind of success. I don’t want to ruin this for you. Please, see the movie. You’ll know which scene I’m talking about. Huge issues, well outside the scope of this film are raised, and a dealt with a manor so cursory, so casual, that they actually make both rape and miscarriage into high comedy. No attempt at satire could ever attack the Serious Drama with the ferocity that Crossroads summons ENTIRELY BY ACCIDENT. It’s a truly stunning bit of cinema.
And then, before you know it, it’s over. The girls are friends forever, Britney has gotten laid, and she’s finally doing something for HERSELF. Of course, what she’s doing is getting a recording contract while Elwood Blues (Now Fat), looks on, at least seeing his daughter for who she really is, and loving her despite the fact that she’s going to be a rich and famous pop star. Not because of it. Poor Britney Spears made a cry for help SO BIG it looked like a crappy movie, and no one noticed until she was wandering around on coke with no underpants and being locked up for psych evaluations.
*OK, not all of you. Basically, did you see Showgirls? Did you enjoy the mess? If so, I humbly recommend Crossroads.