The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Crossroads (2002)

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Last month on our friend Mr. Gable's site, Mr. Gable's Reality, his buddy Alcohol Paul wrote a review on this movie, and the first thought I had was "man, that looks scary." And then I thought "hey, if it's so scary, maybe I should watch it for Halloween and see just how scary it is", and that's how we got here. I decided to make it the first of a two-part Halloween set of posts, in an attempt to do something other than just watch horror movies. Let's see how it worked.

Crossroads stars pop singer Britney Spears as a girl in a small town whose father, Dan Aykroyd, is a big push that wants her to go to school to become a doctor. She kind of wants that too, but she also loves music and has an aptitude for that that she'd like to pursue, despite her father's wishes. After graduating from high school, she meets back up with two friends whom she was best friends with 8 years ago, but whom she'd grown apart from since. One of the friends is going to LA to audition for a singing contract, and the other decides she wants to go too to see her boyfriend, who's attending UCLA. Britney thinks this might be a good chance to hitch a ride and visit her long lost mother, who lives in Tuscon. Will she find all the answers she's looking for in life?

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All right, so this starts off with Britney in her underwear, and I'm thinking "hey, maybe this won't be so bad", and then she starts jumping around and singing Madonna's "Open Your Heart", and I'm like "whoa... I don't think I can do this..." But then Dan Aykroyd comes in and saves me, and we find out Britney's character is her class valedictorian. What? I can work with this, this might not be so bad. Then there was the insertion of the guy/love-interest who drives the girls across country. He worked as my outlet, because whenever the film became too teen girl scary for me, it became so for his character too, and he'd freak out. One clear example came when the girls were driving while he was sleeping, and they were belting out the lyrics to Shania Twain's "I Feel Like a Woman". That was my breaking point, but before I could hit he stop button, he wakes up and loses his mind, and in the process saves my life. In that sense, I may have picked the wrong film, because it made it like the kind of horror film where every time someone was about to be killed, something would save the victims at the last minute. I need some killing damn it!

I would've liked this on the so-bad-it's-good level, but this goes wrong in its attempts to deal with some more serious subject matter that it wasn't really equipped to handle, and which really felt out of place. We had Taryn Manning character's pregnancy, which might have worked, except we then get the revelation that she became pregnant after she was raped, then we find out her rapist was fellow traveler Zoe Saldana's UCLA boyfriend, and then, even worse, she falls down the stairs and has a miscarriage. Ouch! Did we need any of that? The other thing was how this jumped around and seldom focused or developed anything. When Britney meets her mom, played by Kim Cattrall, it's like a 2-minute scene, and then Britney's back at the hotel crying, telling us what happened. Why not show us? For an extra 5-7 minutes, we could've had more Kim Cattrall, and the movie could've been better for it. So, while this wasn't scary enough as a teen girl movie, it also was lacking too much to be enjoyable either, and the dour nature of the places where it went wrong make it hard to make fun of as a bad movie.

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Yes, that is Dan Aykroyd. I don't know what to make of him in stuff like this. I grew up in the 80s with guys like him and Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, John Candy, and Steve Martin as the kind of funny guys you built a big budget comedy around. Now we see Dan Aykroyd as Britney Spears's dad in Crossroads. I got this off of cable, but I have to hope the DVD had behind the scenes interviews where Britney talks about what an honor it was to act opposite Aykroyd, what a true master of the craft he is, how much she learned from him. Another person I want to point out is Zoe Saldana, whom I'm a big fan of, and whose new film Columbiana I really want to see. This movie does a cool thing with her character, by having her boyfriend be white, though we don't see him until the end and assume he's black before that-- I know I was surprised. Good work out of you movie to mix it up. Bad work out of you movie to make him a rapist and make the other poor girl lose her baby.

I can't do a movie about Britney Spears without mentioning her at least once. It goes without saying that quite a bit has happened to her-- probably happened to us all, but especially to her-- in the nine years between this movie and now. Watching this though, there isn't exactly a sense of a lost innocence or a gentler, simpler time in her life. For instance, Spears has a few scenes in her underwear, and seems plenty at home doing it. I'm not saying she's a bad person for that, I'm saying she's much more comfortable with herself than some innocent teen girl. And the way she acts, I forgot her character is the naive bookworm valedictorian, she seems much more down-to-Earth and wise beyond what her character's years should have been-- in a sense, it was more unbelievable that she was playing a character that was supposed to be so naive, as opposed to a character that was supposed to be going to college for pre-med. It was definitely an aspect I wasn't expecting.

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As I was navigating the teen girl discovering herself waters, I found a few familiar landmarks that helped me along. First, how do you not love the Waffle House? I could be watching Manos, The Hands of Fate, and if I see a Waffle House, I'm feeling that much better. The other thing was the inclusion of Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend". I didn't see that coming at all, among the Britney songs and NSYNC and Shania Twain. It was almost like a bone thrown out to a guy, not expecting him to be watching this at my age, but maybe 9 years ago, if I had been dating a girl at the time that wanted to see this and I was dragged along, I hear some Matthew Sweet and I can relax a little, and not think about how I can't believe I let myself be dragged into this. (Or can't believe myself watching this as a 32-year-old trying to think outside the box for his blog's Halloween posts!)

Ultimately, while this has the classic bad teen girl movie hallmarks: the first love, the making it as a singer at the end, the almost perfunctory personal discovery; it's never anything so bad that it's the scariness I so wanted for this Halloween post, and I'm kinda not sure how it got its Razzie. On the other hand, any fun this movie could've had is betrayed by some weird plot choices, especially the rape revelation and the miscarriage. In the end, part one of my Halloween experiment failed.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275022/

6 comments:

  1. This is in my wife's DVD collection (she being a huge Britt-Britt fan and all) and I've almost watched it a couple of times but somehow just couldn't pull the trigger. Kinda glad I didn't what with all the rape and miscarriage stuff. I guess it shows that Britney wasn't out to make a cookie-cutter powder puff movie.

    Kudos for the review, and the Dan Aykroyd shout-out. I think it's funny we both watched Aykroyd movies on Halloween (I just reviewed the Earth vs. the Spider remake where Dan gave a helluva performance). Happy Halloween my friend!

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  2. Yeah, they don't show the rape, but when it's brought up, it takes the movie on a detour it didn't need. I think you might be right that she wanted to make something a little heavier than the average teen movie, but it removes a lot of the potential fun, which is why you'd watch this.

    Thanks man, and Happy Halloween to you too. I'll have to check out that Earth vs. Spiders review. It is funny that out of all the actors to have in common today, it was Mr. Aykroyd-- too bad it wasn't Steve Guttenberg.

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  3. I vaguely remember watching this film with my cousin and sister, I thought it was OK at the time, one thing's for sure, Britney's certainly a MUCH better singer-turned-actress then Beyonce, who may very be well the absolute WORST actress of all time(I don't think she's a particularly good singer either, how she got nominated for Dreamgirls I will never know)! You want "real" horror? then try watching Obsessed, it's a really lame sixth-rate Fatal Attraction rip-off, only this time you'll actually find yourself rooting for the stalker, because she actually comes across as more likeable thne Beyonce's character, who acts like such a total bitch that's it hard to fathom how anyone could stand to be married to her for more then a few days, let alone years.

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  4. BAWHAHAHAHAHA!! That's epic! Great choice for Halloween. Your take on the guy losing his mind everytime the girls got too girly is so true. That one freak out he has when he storms into the field and is kicking dust around and yelling was amazing.

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  5. Great review. You gotta do Cool as Ice next year for 'outside the box scary movies'.

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  6. Not only was the freak out fantastic, but it came right on the heels of the Shania Twain song, so it really did save me from some really scary stuff.

    And I'm glad you guys are digging the choice for Halloween, because I was worried after I saw the movie and it wasn't as scary as I hoped. I've been meaning to do Cool As Ice for sometime now. I need to find my old VHS of it, or get it off of cable. "Drop that zero and get with the hero."

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