Britney eats her breakfast standing up, while singing along to a Madonna song. Platform heels keep her cereal company.
Dan Aykroyd comes in to bug her about five different things (he's supposed to be her wet blanket dad). How did he end up in this movie?!
Cut to Britney's school on graduation day. She's hanging out with that dude from the Mac commercials who dated Drew Barrymore for a hot second. They're supposed to be ugly dorks.
There is not an even an attempt to make them look like actual ugly dorks. No low-rent overalls-ification, à la She's All That, even.
A pregnant Taryn walks down the hallway, looking downtrodden. Some random girl taunts "When's the baby due?" A gross dude says, "Hey, Mimi, you know you want me," flicks his tongue at her, and then, for good measure, calls her a "ho." Taryn is completely within her rights to pull a Carrie and torch that school and all the jerks inside it.
Zoe Saldana descends a staircase with her clique, complimenting herself. She bumps into Britney and freaks the F out. They are randomly mortal enemies now, buried box be damned. Zoe half-recites the best line from Clueless: "You're a virgin!" (The assumption is that Britney can drive.)
According to this movie, there are three options for women in life: virgin who does everything her dad says, mean popular girl who secretly hates herself, or teen pregnancy.
Zoe's mom is wearing a killer hat and bullies her to smile more. She makes this face:
Some teacher finds Britney and her dad to say that she hopes Britney continues studying music in college. Dan Aykroyd is like, Bahahaha, nope, she's gonna be a doctor. Britney dies a little inside.
Back at home, Britney is crying. "Pop, I worked really hard to be the valedictorian." Book learnin' is hard, y'all!
Also, in case there was any confusion, this is when it becomes clear that 100% complete suspension of belief is necessary for this movie to work. It's not that very pretty girls can't be smart. It's that Britney Spears -- eesh, how to put this? -- doesn't seem like she has both of those qualities going in equal measure.
She goes on to explain how she put all this work into realizing her dream and getting an award for it, but ultimately felt nothing. She missed out on being a real teen. "I never just, like, hung out. Is this it?"
This little monologue could easily be applied to Britney's actual life. It was a warning for what was to come: much like her character, real life Britney was left feeling empty from the accolades and the fame. She missed out on being a real person so she acted out by dating Kevin Federline, smoking weed and...well, the rest is too sad to get into right now.
This is also, nearly verbatim, dialogue from the sad valedictorian daughter and overbearing single dad interactions in Say Anything.
Anywaaaaay, the gang is at prom. Taryn wants to go dig up that old box and Britney is not having it because Mac dude is wearing a huge backpack (presumably full of condoms) and wants to take her virginity.
Taryn finds Zoe in a bathroom and brings up their pact to unearth their buried treasure. Zoe is stank and spits, "Excuse me? I have better things to do than dig up some old box." Again, Taryn has every right to go full-on Carrie on these people.
Zoe and her hot mean friends are dancing in a circle while checking out the weird pseudo-grunge live band that would never actually play a high school prom. There's lots of expository conversation about Zoe's fiancé, who's in LA. He's cheating on her. Any viewer over the age of 6 would infer this from the 30 seconds of conversation these girls have while dancing robotically in a circle. Zoe does not.
Upstairs in a hotel room, Big Backpack undresses hurriedly and puts baby powder all over his body. He is so ready. He also has multiple abs and is smoking hot. This equals nerd in Hollywood. Unlike the "stud" in this movie, he doesn't have a tribal tattoo so he's instantly unattractive.
Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" plays because duh. Britney does some seductive hand movements to announce her arrival. She takes off a suit jacket to reveal super sexy underwear. This movie is introducing the youth of America to fun singalongs and eroticism! Two birds and all that.
Britney isn't really feeling it. Big Backpack literally begs to have sex: "Please, Lucy! C'mon! I'm begging you! Please! Let's just do it! Please!" The answer is nah.
Outside, Taryn's ex asks, "Wassup, Mimi? How's the fetus?" Are we sure Shonda Rhimes wrote this?
Even though they hate each other's guts for no real reason, the three former friends show up to dig up their box. Where did Britney find a shovel between the prom and this park?
After some light laboring, they unearth their buried treasure. Whatever is in there better be good! Is it a middle school slam book? Long dead Tamagotchis? A stash of Dunkaroos??
Nope, all we get is a Polaroid, a locket of Brit's absent mom, a globe keychain, and a bridal Barbie. Never meet your idols and never dig up dumb crap you buried when you were young.
Taryn shares the meaning of her globe keychain: her younger self wished she'd eventually dip her toes in the Pacific Ocean. She's actually heading there in two days to do said dipping and also to enter some singing contest.
Brit and Zoe don't miss a beat in raining all over her parade. Britney needlessly points out, "You're pregnant!" Zoe adds her rude two cents: "You think you're gonna be this big fat pregnant star?" WTF. People treat pregnant women horribly in this movie.
The next day, Zoe is on the phone with her fiancé. She hasn't seen him in 5 months. His name is Dylan and he lives in California. How amazing would it have been if Luke Perry played that role? And how amazing would it have been if the terrible dialogue in this movie didn't inspire continual pre-puke mouth sweats?
Back at home, Britney is all F this place and sneaks into her dad's room to put an I'm outtie note on his bedside table. He is sleeping in a single bed. Nothing could be sadder.
Zoe is on a mission to go see Luke Perry so she joins Taryn, as she gets ready for the road trip. Britney appears, wearing an offensive hat she goes on to wear for the majority of the movie. It's the kind of hat you put on a baby at the beach.
The dude from the unlikely prom band is going to be traveling with them. His backstory is never explained. Also not explained: why he wants to drive a bunch of girls he doesn't know across the country. What we do know: he can operate a car, he is kind of cute but not really, and he has cringe-y tattoos. Good enough, I guess. Hop in!
When we all think of road trips and how fun they are, we're thinking of the first two hours or so, when you can still feel your butt and you're not car sick yet and you're having fun singing real loud with the windows down and you don't despise anyone in the car just yet.
The girls convince random dude to change the music from rock to *NSYNC. The girls joyously sing aloud. Britney knows every word 'cause her boyfriend at the time of the filming was none other than Justin Timberlake. They eventually broke up in February 2002. The movie was released a month later. BURN.
The next morning, all the girls get ready in the bathroom at the same time. Taryn has a toothbrush in her hair because she's such a kooky rebel.
Also this movie is starting to seem like they dreamed up different situations in which Brit could logically be almost naked and then wrote the (loose) narrative around them.
A rumor spreads that the random dude they're rolling with went to prison for killing a man. They are all like, ewww! They proceed to shun him for the rest of the day.
They stop at a grocery store. Taryn is hungry and asks Britney to get her some chips. Britney says no because this movie is all about punishing pregnant women.
Taryn goes inside to get some Cheetos for herself. (You go, girl.) Britney and Zoe make her feel bad about being pregnant again.
Later, Britney calls her dad and then hangs up on him. She is wearing a ruffled top with pastel flowers on it to remind you, the viewer, that she's still a virgin. It works.
Maybe Murderer catches Britney in the rearview and asks: "What are you writing in there?" Britney says, "Stuff." The interaction ends and someone was paid to write it.
The car breaks down. Taryn says she's hungry. Zoe yells at her to shut up because, again, we hate pregnant women with cravings. Someone get her some chips please!!!
Taryn and Zoe get into a shoving match. Then, Zoe pulls Taryn's hair. Britney has had it!
The gang needs money to repair their broken car so they do what any of us would do: enter a karaoke contest! This is the second time Taryn has come through with a fully formulated and potentially life-changing plan for the three of them based on a flyer she apparently found in a gas station.
The girls are hanging out in a large, fancy backstage dressing room before going on because this always happens when anyone sings karaoke.
Zoe takes a look at what Britney plans to go out there wearing and is like yeah, no.
Next time we see her, Brit is wearing a barely there ripped top, lots o' body glitter and all her hairs are crimped! Nothing screams sex like the work of a crimping iron.
Someone from the crowd shouts, "Look at that chick, she's pregnant!" Seriously, what is up with this movie and the preg shaming? Maybe the whole film is an allegory for the way our culture disdains the power of a woman's body and feels the need to objectify and shame it to keep it under patriarchal control? Yeah, probably not.
Despite the entire premise of this movie being centered on Taryn wanting to enter some singing contest in California, she gets up there and is REALLY bothered by the bright lights and has a mild panic attack. People boo very quickly (because she's pregnant) and she begs Britney to sing in her stead.
Shy valedictorian Britney is nervous for about 30 seconds but then pulls it off and becomes a major sexpot for the remaining three minutes of the song, vamping, strutting, and rubbing her back on a stripper pole because she needs them tips for the broken car.
We see that this is working because the camera cuts no fewer than four times to the tip jar which is a giant jar that says TIPS, and people are putting money in it every time. The crowd is shouting excitedly and dancing and behaving exactly like people behave at random low-rent karaoke shows. Also, people dig it because the pregnant girl is in the background where she belongs.
After the performance, random Maybe Murderer is acting like a Maybe Pimp as he counts all the money the girls made.
He's interrupted by a bro wondering if Britney is his girl. Maybe Pimp says no so the bro says "watch this" to his friends and goes to aggressively dance with Britney. It goes from zero to date rape in three seconds flat.
Maybe Pimp knocks the bro out. Taryn grabs all their money and they all run.
Now that they have money, their hotel room's carpet and wallpaper aren't so scarily saturated. Zoe is excited about the mini bar. She doesn't yet realize that stuff is not free.
Maybe Pimp is permanently emblazoned on our sh*t list when he says to Britney: "I'm not mad at you for what happened back there." Exsqueeze me? Why in any universe would he need to clarify that? Instead of realizing this dude is a misogynist, Britney feels bad about herself. Maybe Pimp says he needs to take a walk. Perfect idea, dude. Find the nearest cliff.
With that victim blaming loser out of their hair, the girls drink three sips of alcohol and dance for a really long time while giggling. Taryn drinks a lot of Pepsi. This movie was definitely released during the time period when Brit had a major deal with Pepsi. Things are pretty great.
Zoe opens up about why she's so rude. She used to go to fat camp and her mom is competitive with her! I guess that makes up for all the mean comments.
As we move to some sort of beautiful courtyard location (?) that apparently exists at this rundown motel, it is suddenly daytime, and the convo gets very real. Britney opens up about her absent mother and Taryn opens up about being raped. It was by a guy drinking beer out of a blue bottle. REMEMBER THIS. They all hug and promise not to lose touch again. Ya ya!
Britney says she's hungover but really doesn't seem it. Taryn talks about how good a burrito she's eating is. She finally got something to eat!!!
The girls sing along to Shania Twain because it's been 10 whole minutes without a dance sequence or singalong.
Maybe Murderer wakes up in the back seat to the girls singing and FREAKS OUT. He wants Britney to pull over. She says she will at the next exit. He continues to freak out and HITS THE BACK OF HER SEAT.
Okay, how many passes are you gonna give this guy? He maybe killed someone, he got mad at a girl for being assaulted by some dude and then made her feel bad about the experience, and now he's getting physical. Maybe it's time the girls maybe murdered him! Or I guess they could just leave him on the side of the road. Whatever, just get rid of him!
This movie kind of feels like a PG version of the infamous Zola story that blew up Twitter last month. A road trip gone wrong. Hot-headed men who think they run stuff. Almost stripping.
Maybe Murderer storms out of the car and proceeds to throw rocks and kick the dirt and yell a bunch. He explains that he's a guy and he can't handle them doing their "girly things" in his car. If fragile masculinity had a human form and gave a short monologue in a crappy movie, this would be it.
Britney schools him on how sexist and damaging his world view is and drops some Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and bell hooks quotes on him.
Actually, Britney doesn't do that at all because this world is all wrong. Instead she says "Okay" and smiles. Sigh.
Back in the car, Maybe Murderer is in the driver's seat and listening to macho music so he's not randomly attacking the girls anymore. Yay?
Brit asks if he ever killed a man and he explains that no he actually helped out his stepsister and got locked up for six months for it. The characters nod sagely, contemplating our broken justice system.
Because this movie needs to make sure it embarrasses anyone associated with it for years to come, we find the gang on a random cliff where they -- you guessed it! -- yell into the abyss.
They decide to camp for the night, after asking Not a Murderer But Still Definitely a Piece of Sh*t if he has four sleeping bags. He smiles. Why on earth would he have four sleeping bags??
I guess he does because next thing you know it's nighttime and they're camping. Taryn teaches Zoe how to fight. Zoe has rollers in her hair.
Maybe Murderer asks Britney what she's writing again, since she's being all shy and valedictorian-like with a notebook by the campfire. She says, "Poems mostly." She recites the lyrics to "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." Wordsworth is rolling in his grave with jealousy.
Taryn freaks out cause she got bitten on the butt by a snake while peeing. No, wait, it's just a mosquito bite. WTF is this movie?
The next morning, they drop Britney off at the mansion that belongs to the mom who abandoned her when she was three. They all hug. They make a point to tell her that they're not leaving town until tomorrow, which makes no sense seeing as they've been on a very efficiently timed road trip up until now and were clearly worried about getting to LA on schedule.
Anyway: Britney's mom. An alternate universe Samantha Jones of Sex and the City opens the door, wearing an outfit ready for a safari, and is not having any of it. "I came to see you, mama!" "Now why would you do that, Lucy?" Geez! Cold-hearted!
She has pictures on the mantle of Britney's half-brothers. Britney asks if they know who she is. Samantha makes a I'm-just-not-that-into-you face.
The rest of the interaction happens off-screen because the writers of this movie probably didn't know how to write an emotionally gripping scene.
Britney shows up at her friends' hotel room, wet from the rain cause rain equals emotion. She is super sad and sits on the bathroom floor. She later explains that her mom never wanted her, but that they do look alike and she has her eyes and hands (huh).
Maybe Murderer comforts her by ripping out a poem from her journal. She doesn't seem mad about that, but she is probably internally screaming.
He takes her to a piano in the corner of a large and well-lit room, which every ramshackle hotel in Arizona apparently has, and plays her the music to her poem. Britney "sings." It's awful. They make out.
Britney decides to go to LA to make out some more.
Back in the car. Sheryl Crow singalong cause duh. The rule is that, every time anyone sings along to the radio in this movie, they must laugh like it's the CRAZIEST thing anyone's ever done.
"If It Makes You Happy" lasts the length of a montage, which takes them all the way to LA, which you know you are in when you see palm trees. Also, all road trips to LA culminate in Sheryl Crow songs. It's part of a deal she has worked out with the travel bureau.
The gang goes to the beach and realizes that the Pacific Ocean is cold as f*ck.
They're all suddenly in a horde of people who are gathered for more information about the weird open audition. Jesse Camp, that dude who won the VJ contest on MTV, hassles Zoe in the background.
Back at the hotel, Zoe calls Dylan to excitedly tell him she's in LA to see him! He's like "Ugh, not now" and she is still confused about a situation that her friends all explained to her very clearly weeks ago at prom.
Zoe wants to go sightseeing to distract herself from her sham engagement. Taryn is down, but Britney is "too tired," which is code for "Imma lose my virginity today, y'all!"
In the car, Taryn finds out Zoe's sightseeing adventure is actually just a drive over to Dylan's house to force him to hang. Taryn freaks out with good reason (you'll find out why in a sec).
Cut to Maybe Murderer dramatically taking off his tank top. He pins Britney against a window that overlooks crashing waves. His tribal tattoo is everywhere. The camera pans to the waves crashing against the shore and then a sunset. This movie was PG-13, remember.
Zoe forces Taryn to come up to Dylan's front door with her. This is a really bad idea. He's hanging out with some other chick who resembles Vitamin C.
As if that's not bad enough, he's also Taryn's rapist. Zoe realizes this when, in the midst of a cartoonishly buffoonish speech about how he didn't think cheating on his fiancé was a big deal, the guy takes a swig of beer from a blue bottle. A BLUE BOTTLE.
Everyone who performs crimes while doing or wearing distinctively colored things always continues to do or wear those things for the rest of time. This is how you can spot them later. It's called brand loyalty. It's very helpful.
Taryn flees and falls down the stairs. Her globe keychain dramatically bounces down and down in slow motion. Is she losing her desire to see the world??
No. She does lose her baby though. "I would have been a good mom," she tearfully tells Britney, who shows up kinda like "Sorry I wasn't there, I was getting laid?"
This is all getting a little too real for Brit so she asks her dad to fly out from Georgia. He is there, at the hospital, within 20 minutes.
His first line: "Just what were you thinking running away...with a pregnant girl!" Again, why does everyone in the Crossroads universe deride procreation/women/women's bodies so much??
His second concern: "How old is he anyway?" Glad he asked because we're also confused about how old Maybe Murderer is. And where does he live and what is his deal and why does he hate women and how has he not killed a man with all of his rage issues?
Taryn is reading what all girls who've just lost a child read: Teen Magazine with Blink 182 on the cover.
All of the wishes attached to the trinkets in the buried box didn't exactly pan out. Britney met her mom! But she was a sociopath. Taryn got to dip her toe in the ocean! But then had to engage with her rapist and lose her baby. Zoe was almost married! But her fiancé raped her best friend.
So what lesson is Crossroads trying to teach us? Life suuuuuucks. Also, you're not having fun unless you're singing along to the radio while giggling. Got it loud and clear.
One of the characters asks: "God, doesn't it feel like we left home a million years ago?" Yes, it does. This movie is way longer than it has to be.
And keeps getting longer as Britney agrees to go back to Georgia, and the three girls all get into a car with Dan Aykroyd for the solemn trip home. A half a block later, she rethinks everything.
She stands up to her codependent dad, who just a second ago was like "You're coming back to Georgia" but then sees that she really likes this random unexplained older dude with the creepy tats. He kind of smiles in a resigned way, while he watching them make out. Her friends get out of the car to watch too. Not weird at all.
Ooh, it's finally time for the auditions. Brit is wearing jeans and a crop top with some seriously weird sleeves. This is definitely what all open auditions look like. But what is she singing, you ask? It's her super bad poem put to music, of course!
Later that night, the girls bury yet another box. This time, it's full of stuff they want to forget. They put it under approximately 3 inches of sand. It probably won't take 8 years for that to be unearthed this time. They stomp on it and giggle.
The future is undecided. Britney will still probably wear that ugly-ass baby beach hat, but she had sex, at least! She might still go to college and be pre-med, like her dad wanted, but she might also get this record contract and stay in LA and instantly become famous and she'll definitely never, ever flip out and shave her head and make bad marriage choices in Vegas because other people have been controlling her every move from the time she could walk. It remains to be seen, y'all. For now, she's not a girl, not yet a woman.