First feature film vehicle for Miss Britney Spears, released February 15, 2002. This flick actually was years in the making, or at least in development. Consider that Mandy Moore's A Walk to Remember premiered weeks before. Undoubtedly the teen queen must have been a bit perturbed that one of her imitators could slip in and steal her crossover box office crown. Though I suspect she has little to worry about.

In Miss Spears' first scene, she is dancing in her underwear singing Open Your Heart. For those of you without encyclopedic knowledge of Madonna, that was the video in which she did a platinum striptease for a little boy. In case you're wondering, Britney also appears in fancy lingerie, in a bikini, in a halter top reading "FREE DOM"... there was a plot to this thing, wasn't there?

Ah yes, it's coming back to me. Britney plays Lucy, valedictorian of her Georgia high school. At the well-meaning but mean behest of her father (a comically serious Dan Aykroyd), she always studied and never went to dances or had any fun. Any parent can guess some serious rebellion is brewing.

So she sets out on a road trip with her two estranged best friends from childhood: Kit, Miss Popularity, and Mimi, pregnant drunkard. The sexy convertible that takes them west to LA is unfortunately not driven by a gonzo journalist and his esteemed Samoan lawyer, but by a generic hunk who the girls believe to be a murderer (without a shred of evidence).

Britney tracks down her runaway mom (played by Kim Cattrall) in Arizona only to discover all her worst fears of abandonment were justified. I found this genuinely disturbing. And in case you're wondering, she actually can act. She certainly doesn't have the range of, say, Cate Blanchett, but she's entirely convincing when the whole enterprise can be tailored to her strengths (as opposed to her atrociously unfunny appearances on Saturday Night Live).

When they arrive in LA, Britney loses her virginity to the cute hunk and it must have been all she hoped for because there were palm trees.

What is truly intriguing is that Lucy begins this movie as a perfectly average nerd and ends it as Britney Spears, complete with record deal. The hunk wrote music for the poem she wrote herself, which turned out to be I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman which you can hear right now on pop radio. Yet you can't quite say that "reality" has swallowed "fiction" because no one believed that Britney's persona-- the sexiness or the innocence-- had anything to do with honesty in the first place.

Life Lessons that Britney taught me:

  • Louisiana does in fact have culture, in the form of karaoke.
  • Girls know more about cars than boys. Just trust them.
  • Sometimes boys throw tantrums. Wait it out. Eventually they will become horny again and do what you tell them.
  • The only extant forms of female bonding are singing along with Top 40 radio and weeping.
  • Pop = Rock and roll