Crossroads (PG)

ANOTHER passing pop fad, another forgettable movie.

At least Crossroads is not the lamentable piece of nonsense that was Glitter, pop diva Mariah Carey’s entry into films. Instead it is a harmless teen flick that offers Britney Spears an entry into movies that is not purely based, like Glitter, on her voice.

The tale takes Britney and two pals on a road trip to California. Lucy (Spears) seeks her runaway mother, who abandoned her at three. Kit (Zoe Saldana) aims to hook up with her erstwhile fiancé. Mimi (Taryn Manning) has her sights set on an audition.

Together they hitch a ride with square-jawed Ben (Anson Mount), a tall, dark and handsome stranger just out of prison and who may – or may not – have served time for murder.

The action, such as it is, revolves around the three girls’ different horizons and the emotional journey each takes. In doing so Crossroads considers a number of themes that, taken at face value, are nothing to be concerned about.

Yet in the light of Spears’ squeaky-clean image the sub-plots involving teen pregnancy, underage drinking, sex and even date rape (hinted at but never underlined) appear glaringly out of place.

Spears herself delivers a perfectly acceptable performance as the mechanic’s daughter who discovers a life outside her father’s dreams of a career in medicine. Oddly her songs are kept to a minimum with just a couple of snatches of Madonna and Sheryl Crowe alongside her hits ‘I’m Not a girl, Not Yet a Woman’, and ‘Overprotected’.

Spears is acted off the screen by her teen cohorts Manning and Saldana, with the latter particularly effective as a preening prom queen. Yet Spears plays down her vocal talents, avoiding turning Crossroads into an extended music video while trying to hack it as an actress.

There are thousands of wannabes out there who fancy themselves as pop stars, film stars or both. Spears has done it with Crossroads, though I venture her star will wane as quickly as most manufactured idols and the film will rapidly sink without trace.

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