Say what you will about Britney, but she’s no dumb blonde.  Unlike fellow pop diva Mariah Carey, whose acting debut was a wooden performance in a melodramatic vanity project of epic proportions, Britney has chosen a cheery road-trip flick in which to launch her film career.  It’s a smart move; Crossroads is silly and exuberant and fun, fun, fun.

Britney is Lucy, the nerdy valedictorian of her senior class.  On graduation night, Lucy unexpectedly reunites with her childhood best friends, Kit (Zoe Zaldana), and Mimi (Taryn Manning), to uncover a long-forgotten time capsule they buried years earlier. Upon opening it, they’re reminded of faded dreams and happier times, before Kit became a popular megabitch and the redneck Mimi got pregnant.

Determined to follow those dreams despite the bun in her oven, Mimi is heading for LA the next day with Ben (Anson Mount), a guy from her trailer park, to attend a big record company audition.  It only takes a few well-timed coincidences for Kit and Lucy to decide to tag along, and before you can say “hit me baby, one more time” the girls are piling into Ben’s vintage convertible for a trip that will change their lives forever.

In search of her long-absent mother, Lucy plans to go only as far as Vegas.  But, through shared adventures, she finds herself bonding with her old friends, as when, low on cash, they compete in a karaoke contest.  When lead-singer Mimi chickens out, it’s up to the reluctant Lucy, whose only previous experience has been singing Madonna songs into her hairbrush in her bedroom, to fill in.  Astonishingly, this nerdy bookworm has a sultry voice and supersexy moves.  Who knew?!?

Newly liberated, Lucy sets out to seduce the droolworthy Ben by reading him a poem she’s written.  Ben finds the poem, entitled “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” deeply moving, and, smelling a hit single, begins working immediately on a melody to accompany the insightful verse.

The drama – and suspense – builds steadily.  Will Lucy find her long lost mother?  Will Lucy decide to go to the big audition?  Will Lucy ever lose her virginity? And what’s up with Kit’s insensitive boyfriend, anyway? What Britney lacks in dramatic range, she more than makes up for in natural charm. Together, these girls are on a trip of self-discovery, a destination easily (and merrily) reached within the film’s 90 minutes.

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