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Crossroads
Special Collector's Edition

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rating: PG-13 (For Sexual Content and Brief Teen Drinking)

Running Time: 93 minutes

Starring: Britney Spears,

Written by: Shonda Rhimes

Directed by: Tamra Davis

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Britney's DVD Welcome, Audio Commentary with Producer Ana Carli, Director Tamra Davis and Writer Shonda Rhimes, Break Through Britney, Britney Spears Music Videos, The Making Of Crossroads: 40 Days with Britney, First In Line: Inside The Crossroads' Premiere, Seven Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Director Tamra Davis, Sing alone with Britney, Edit Your Own Music Video, Taryn's T-Shirts, Crossroads Photo Gallery, Four Television Spots, Theatrical Trailers

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (18 Scenes)

Released: July 23rd, 2002

 

 

When there is always some kind of breakout star in the media, movie studios must clamor to get them for some kind of movie deal and cash in on their success. Be it that they are actors by trade or music stars, you can't blame the guys in suits for wanting to make money off these specific people, especially since you never know how long these people will be around in the spotlight. I can think of quite a few talents like this... Alicia Silverstone's rise in "Clueless" and then her production deal followed by a string of bombs seems to have (unfairly) followed her.

But in the pop music scene, you always have crossover talents. Some can juggle both, make a movie debut that rises or falls and either make more or stop. It all depends on the person, but it's nothing new in the history of cinema. It seems this year, some of pop music's current biggest stars are really getting into the acting thing. Mandy Moore made her starring debut in A Walk To Remember after several small film parts, while Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny's Child is hitting it big in the latest "Austin Powers" flick. Oh, and what about "Glitter" last fall?

Of course, there's no stopping the Britney juggernaut. Everyone wants Britney and everyone just loves Britney, be it the pop music fans or the tabloids. After rejecting several scripts, Britney thought of an idea, Paramount hired a writer and everything else came together. Made on a modest budget and having a pretty decent, if not less than stellar gross, "Crossroads" did fine this past winter at the box office, but somehow, Moore's film ended up making slightly more...

"Crossroads" is one of those teenage girl movies, you know, things with the outdate pop culture clash of "girl power!" and friendship over things they can "identify" with and perhaps bond over. We meet three high school teenagers, come graduation. There's Lucy (Britney Spears), the valedictorian; the asthetics-obsessed Kit and the pregnant Mimi. The three were former friends who once dug a box of treasures, vowing to open it their high school graduation night. So the three reunite, open it and decided to go on a cross country trip with a "serial killer", sex starved guy named Ben for their own reasons. There's excitment of getting a recording contract, Lucy meeting her birth mother and all of them coming together in the process learning values of life and relationships.

I'm all for corny, cheesy and overally stupid fun movies. Unfortuantly, "Crossroads" is none of these. I found the movie terribly uninteresting and not even fun to watch in an amusing, guilty pleasure sense. It's actually a bit boring and feels tiresome. I think the film is like this due to the cumbersome directing from Tamra Davis. Davis has some nice camera shots, but somehow, some of them feel a bit bland. The movie's pace is really off and feels like a series of random vignettes placed together, almost like an experiment that if you blend them, there will be meaning to them. While there is something called trial and error until you get it right, this movie is all error. Mistakes are bound to happen, but this puzzle doesn't fit the way it should. You feel in the end that you get nothing out of this adventure thematically or even in any entertaining sense. The product feels more of some clunky rough cut to me. It's all grossly uneven and doesn't add up.

I'm not even sure what to make of Shonda Rhimes' screenplay. It supposedly taps into those girl fantasies of having fun, hitting it big all with friendship and romance in between. The problem is these characters don't ignite the screen the way they should. Rhimes' goal seems to make a road movie about teenagers that relates to their troubles and curiousity, but it doesn't come close. The appearance of the characters look full, but as the film goes on, they're incredibly hollow. I don't know why that is.

Themes of beauty, sex and feelings of belonging as well as past troubles all concur within the leads, and they all must come to terms with what their dealing with (for the most part). They're discussed and they're developed more or less to a decent extent... but it puzzles me why I didn't feel any connection to the characters or wanted to know more about them. The elements are in place, but there was something I can't even put my finger on in the execution of all of it. Perhaps it seems forced, but I couldn't care less about any of the characters, even with all their problems and everything. It was just that bland. Why was it? Was it their main story which brought them together was so uncompelling? Was it nothing new? It just feel exactly right within the context. Maybe there needed to be more touch-ups on all of it. Still, I'm sure teenagers will leave this movie thinking "Wow, this movie is soooo great and I can sooooo relate to it."

The film isn't funny either when it tries to be, and I didn't buy into the girls hating each other and automatically acting like they were best friends again. Oh yeah... the ending is predictable and horrific at the same time. It's really just a sad ending that plays on your emotions with little build up and a dramatic score. Instead of feeling connected and caring for the character, it's just a cheap thing to make its audience supposedly reflect on everything, whereas there is nothing to reflect on. It's like corny shock value, more or less.

The acting is actually good, but I guess the film itself is so bad, that they can't help it out. Given the script, they really work well with it. Anson Mount has a certain charm to him with strong delivery, while Zoe Saldana and Taryn Manning are pretty great as Kit and Mimi. Supporting the film in brief roles are Kim Cattrall and Dan Aykroyd, who are just fine. Still, all eyes are on Britney. I think she does a good, strong job in the film and with her role. There's not a ton to work with, but it's substantial and she's fine in the character, even showing off her voice. I think it will be interesting to see what future films Britney does, and I think she will be fine in working with more challanging material. As far as her chemistry with Manning and Saldana, I didn't think there was much of it. I'm a bit mixed on that aspect, because I think they're all good in their roles and play well off with one another for the most part. However, I just didn't get a sense they were all connected and such good friends. You can't force chemistry. Some it felt forced, some of it didn't. It was a bit weird for me, and in some aspect, alienated me from the film itself.

When it comes down to it, I think "Crossroads" is an exercise in tedium. It thinks it's breaking new ground in filmmaking for teenagers, but it's all standard, uninteresting and just plain bland. It's a bit fluffy too, and feels more like a commercial for Britney, hyping the songs off her third album and her endorsment deal with Pepsi (love those Pepsi and Mountain Dew cups!). But for you teenyboppers out there, knock yourself out...

 

It's widescreen Britney! "Crossroads" is presented in anamorphic widescreen, all in the glorious 1.85:1 aspect ratio (let's hope Britney fans aren't peeved and keep bugging their friends why there are black bars at the top! "uh why r dere black thingiez at da topp? lolz"). This is a solid transfer that is pretty pleasing. It can be a bit grainy, and some of the night scenes don't look as sharp, but still do look quite good. Detail is pretty good too, while fleshtones are pretty sparkling and nice. Colors are pretty well saturated and look good in the whole scheme of things. Still, the images pop right out at you for a nice 3-D effect mostly, which is always a good thing. Sometimes, the picture is a bit flat though. On the downside, there is some shimmering in some scenes but it's very slight, and there is an abudnance of dirt pieces, belmishes, nicks and other little things on the print which are distracting at times. Overall though, it does look quite good.

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track perfectly suits the film. The track features a nice ambiance and a good mix for the material. Dialogue is clear, and all the sound elements come together for a good mix and don't tend to overpower one another. The problem with the dialogue though is that it sounds out of place sometimes and pretty low. This mix has some great surrounds in form of some loud effects, such as the car blowing out and large crowds talking. However, I think the greatest strength of the mix comes from it's wide arrange, often aggressive mix of its music. The music is well mixed, be it those Britney songs you've probably heard 1000 times, the nice score from Trevor Jones or nice background music, there's no denying the strong dynamics and acoustics the track tends to feature. The karaoke scene sounds particularly nice. Again, quite suitable stuff overall. Also included are Dolby Surround tracks in French and English, plus English subtitles and English closed captions.

 

Despite the large catalog Paramount has of movies, and despite releases of some of their greatest films, I just find it pretty funny that "Crossroads" is one of their most packed releases. Fans of Britney and the movie are probably going to eat everything up. Let's start with Britney's DVD Welcome. It's just an eight second line reading that adds up to absolute shit. I assumed it was filmed while she was taking a break from some television spot or before a concert or something, but I then saw the Break Through Britney feature and realized it was her in the same setup and she probably had more time in doing the stuff (but I sense there was a rushed aspect). But if you love Britney, you'll wanted to watch it 100+ times.

The Making Of Crossroads: 40 Days With Britney has behind the scenes clips and film clips, all topped with interviews about the film with Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning, Shonda Rhimes, producer Ann Carli, Britney's mother, Tamra Davis, Kim Cattral and a few others. Everyone here praises Britney and working with a lot females. The interviews are a mix of on the set and off the set stuff. It vaguely follows the film's production too of forty days. A bit fluffy, but sorta entertaining 26 minutes.

Taryn's T-Shirts (complete with parental warning!) has clips from the karaoke scene and features Mimi herself, Taryn Manning. Her words seem scripted as she and actress/clothing designer Jackie Manning go into good detail on how to make the shirts as seen in that karaoke number. Good stuff if you really want to dress like that.

In anamorphic widescreen (w00t), we have the seven minute and fifteen second First In Line: Inside The Crossroads Premiere. Hosted by Zoe Salanda who played Kit in the movie, there are clips from the film for the opening montage and of course, tons of premiere footage. We follow Zoe as she travels to the premiere in mad style (y'all!). She goes through press intereviews and narrates it pretty nicely. It's a little superfluous and has shots of the other film people (AND JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE HIMSELF, OMFG!!!!!). A fun featurette all in all.

Tamra Davis introduces seven Deleted Scenes from the movie (as if it wasn't long enough?). Davis gives good insight and seems like a nice lady, and has a lot to say about the scenes. Her introductions are quite good (and seem edited no less). The scenes seem to be in good condition and are fully editied, but why aren't they anamorphic? Drag. It all totals under twelve minutes.

The Audio Commentary with Producer Ana Carli, Director Tamra Davis and Writer Shonda Rhimes is pretty good too, sorta like a few girls having a fun slumber party. The filmmakers share quite a few laughs and ask questions to one another about the film, and offer some pretty interesting comments, high praises, insights about making the movie and some good production stories. Overall, a lot of ground is covered about making the film. There really are some interesting tidbits and some nice choice comments, and it seems like they had a really good time making the movie. However, my question is this: all of these ladies seem to be fun, intelligent and hard workers. How did the end result stray so far from their own personalities and work ethics...? Certainly, I enjoyed this commentary much more than the movie itself, and they make it sound so much better than it really is. Fans of the movie should enjoy this, as it is a very solid track that is not only entertaining, but shares good information on making the flick.

Break Through Britney is a pseudo video commentary of sorts, and begins with her DVD welcome no less. It's like pop-up video sorta, as Britney will appear in a pink star bubble and share her comments about the movie and her "fun parts." It's tiny production stories that are "cute," but not too insightful. I think a cast commentary with Britney, Manning and Saldana would have worked out better.

On the music side of things, we have two Britney Spears Music Videos (oh goodie!). "Overprotected" (The Darkchild Remix) and "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman" are featured here in non-anamorphic widescreen and full frame, respectively. Also on the music front, we have Sing Alone With Britney which is karaoke for these videos... but the videos are different, and featuring a live peformance for "Overportected" and a string of clips for the film in "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman." There's also the Edit Your Own Music Video section. I enjoy these interactive features, but this one doesn't add up to much or even the full video. It's a bit clunky, too.

The rest is promo stuff. A decent Photo Gallery, four MTV TV Spots (each dealing with the four leads) and finally, two Theatrical Trailers: one is for domestic audiences, the other is an international teaser trailer. The domestic is non-anamorphic widescreen, and the international is in anamorphic widescreen. Both are in Dolby Digital 5.1.

 

"Crossroads" is the perfect movie... if you're a teenager and love the pop stratosphere of that kind of music and Britney Spears herself. It's obvious that the filmmakers kept their audience in mind when making this movie, so if you're the right audience and into the whole pop culture clashes pop music has brought to you, you'll feel right at home with "Crossroads." Everyone else, meanwhile, may not enjoy it at such a high level, disregard it or just plain hate it.

Nonetheless, giant Britney fans are going to eat this one up (they'll buy it just for her DVD welcome!). But there is no denying the quality Paramount has put into this release (and why not, Britney's audience are sure to get the most out of the extras). The 5.1 mix is excellent, the picture quality of the transfer is fantastic and the supplements are rather plentiful. Buy it, rent it, whatever... certain groups of people are sure to respond to the film itself differently, but this is one fine DVD release.