There Should Be a Sequel: Britney Spears' 'Crossroads'
Every week, EW will imagine a sequel to a movie that we wish would happen — no matter how unlikely the idea really is.
Before I begin, I want to really emphasize the last eight words of the “There Should Be a Sequel” rubric: no matter how unlikely the idea really is. The possibility of a Crossroads sequel is a sky-high impossibility. Released in February 2002, the film was essentially a feature-length advertisement for Britney Spears at what was — in cruel hindsight — the peak of her golden age. (She broke up with Justin Timberlake that summer; her next album, In the Zone, ushered in the the new era of Weird Britney; by mid-2004, she was twice-married.)
The film is a Spears nice-girl hagiography that was already unbelievable in 2002. Eleven years later, Spears is simultaneously incredibly successful and a non-entity, her post-meltdown persona hyper-controlled and well-manicured. Spears’ one venture into public was a stint as an X Factor host, which was notable mainly for how un-notable it was. It’s hard to imagine her starring in a movie. Hell, the whole paradigm of pop stars starring in movies seems old-fashioned in our media era. Also, by almost every scientific metric available to our species, we can agree that Crossroads was pretty terrible.
But all of the reasons why Crossroads 2 won’t happen are also the reasons why the sequel should, nay, must happen. To refresh your memory, the first Crossroads is a road trip movie that sends three turn-of-the-millennium female archetypes on a musical quest for self-realization. Spears plays Lucy, the ridiculously nice girl with a ridiculously perfect body who writes poetry that sounds uncannily like Swedish pop-producer nonsense lyrics. Zoe Saldana plays Kit, the stuck-up popular girl who is stuck-up and popular. Taryn Manning plays Mimi, the pregnant wild child who dreams of being a musician despite the fact that she doesn’t look like Britney Spears. On the trip they learn a lot of lessons, and the lessons are: 1. Parents are awful. 2. Most men are evil. 3. Britney Spears’ music will save the world.
Considering that the movie is essentially a music video with excessive dialogue interludes, the film has a cast with a pretty solid post-Crossroads hit rate. Saldana is a rising geek goddess and the go-to actress for Badass Space Ladies. Man-candy Anson Mount apparently spent the decade post-Crossroads growing a beard and is now the lead on Hell on Wheels. Other supporting players include Dan Aykroyd and Kim Cattrall, not to mention a young Justin Long doing the best work of his career as a nice guy pleading for sex with Britney Spears. Manning has a middle-class music career of her own, and is now a regular on Orange Is the New Black.
And here’s a little-known fact: When Mount was considering doing Crossroads, he ran lines from the script with Robert De Niro. De Niro played the Spears role. I say again: At one point in the history of our human species, Robert De Niro read aloud lines that would eventually be said onscreen by Britney Spears. More importantly, do you know who wrote Crossroads? Shonda Rhimes. Shonda “Queen of ABC, Empress of Contemporary Female Dramas” Rhimes.
So let’s just imagine, for the sake of argument, that when Rhimes is shuttling between the sets of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, she finds the time to write a Crossroads sequel. (Working title: Crossroads 2: Not a Girl, Not Yet A Woman.) If the first film was essentially a fairy-tale version of Britney Spears’ early life, the second film would be a fairy tale version of the last decade of Britney Spears’ life — and it would incorporate the careers of her co-stars. A decade after they arrived in Los Angeles, Lucy is a pop megastar recovering from a troubled period in the mid-2000s, Kit is a movie star struggling to make the transition from ensemble action movies into serious acting, and Mimi is an indie musician getting good reviews on a Netflix series.
The three girls haven’t spoken in years — but after a chance encounter at the MTV Video Music Awards, they decide to go on another road trip. This time, though, they’re going in reverse: Driving across the country, back to their small town in Georgia. From there, we give it the full Shonda Rhimes treatment, where everyone is at the center of three different romantic triangles and conspiracies. In order to go on the road trip, the girls have to basically kidnap Lucy (who is under the conservatorship of Dan Aykroyd), so they’re being simultaneously chased by federal marshals AND Lucy’s entourage. At one point, lost in Texas with no money and no car, they contact the only person they trust: Anson Mount’s Beard. (After Lucy left him for a badass rock star — Fred Durst in a cameo! — Mount fled to a remote corner of Texas and grew a beard.)
The plot doesn’t matter. What matters is the music. And Crossroads 2 would overload on music. The road trip would be punctuated by regular flashbacks to Lucy’s career — and those flashbacks would essentially be re-creations from Spears’ most iconic moments. Lucy, dancing with a snake! Or like, the girls visit a traveling circus, and that reminds Lucy of a time she sang a song called “Circus.” At one point, when Lucy and Anson Mount’s Beard have rekindled their romance, Mount reveals that he spent the mid-2000s as a car thief, at which point Lucy composes the following poem:
Mama, I’m in love with a criminal
And this type of love isn’t rational, it’s physical
Mama, please don’t cry, I will be all right
All reason aside, I just can’t deny, love the guy
Nonstop music. Wall-to-wall Spears hits. Crossroads 2 is basically just an audition for a Crossroads 2 jukebox musical that will make Spears serious Mamma Mia money and win a Tony for Megan Hilty. This may sound silly, and it is, but if Spears were even a little game, Crossroads 2 could actually be an incredible move for her career. We’re in the midst of a new renaissance in girl pop: What better time to craft a movie that simultaneously honors and deconstructs the Britney Spears era? It would be like the Goodfellas of teen pop. And if Spears isn’t interested, maybe De Niro could play her role.