Britney carries Crossroads, albeit a short distance

“OK, but just one,” the shy poet says. “Now don’t laugh.”This line comes after a scene in Crossroads where, for the first time, you don’t see Britney Spears as a sex symbol and pop-culture icon, but rather as an actress. Her character, Lucy, has just been asked to read one of her poems by a guy she doesn’t know well.

It’s a cliché line you’ve heard in a hundred films. It’s supposed to be the moment where we learn that secret something the protagonist has been hiding.

But after Lucy says it, she recites a verse from her alter ego’s popular ballad, “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.”

Even after you’ve suspended your disbelief, you’re reminded that Britney Spears is on the screen.

This is why singers should not do movies. There are people who learn the craft of acting and decide to become actors, and then there are people who take voice and dance lessons and turn into pop stars.

But when these people start switching roles, disaster ensues.To Britney’s credit, at least this wasn’t Glitter. And to further pile on the compliments, she does carry the film – even if it doesn’t go very far.

A shy valedictorian, a beauty queen and a pregnant girl go on a road trip. The premise of Crossroads allows for many possibilities, but only one emerges as this film goes from promising to simply a rehash of every cliché you’d expect from a MTV flick posing as a coming-of-age tale starring the sexy Pepsi girl (you see plenty of product placement as well).

The daughter of characters played by Dan Aykroyd and Kim Cattrall, Lucy rebels against her dad and goes in search of her mom who abandoned her when she was 3 years old. She joins two childhood friends, who went in their own separate directions after elementary school, on a post-graduation road trip with a cute stranger named Ben (Anson Mount).

As you’d expect, along the way they bicker and cry, and at least two of them fall in love. But not before Lucy, whose dad wants her to be a doctor, decides to audition for a record company a la Coyote Ugly, Glitter, Flashdance and every other film that thought its premise was original.

Anson Mount impresses as the troubled yet sweet bad boy and eventual love interest of Lucy. While he may have just been trying to stay out of the way in the estrogen-filled car his character drives throughout, Mount still gives the film’s only worthwhile performance.

Directed by Tamra Davis, Crossroads is just an excuse to allow Britney to dance around in skimpy underwear and try out the acting thing. Britney’s PG-13-rated sex scenes allow her to move one step closer to shedding her virginal image that surely will not be around a year from now.

Other than that, you’re not missing much if you don’t catch Crossroads. If you want to see Kim Cattrall, she has about 90 seconds of screen time. If you’re a Dan Aykroyd fan, see Dragnet.

But if you want to see Britney do something significant on the silver screen, wait a few years – she’ll need it.