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Not as terrible as made out to be, but not stellar
on 15 December 2008
This type of film is never going to be especially deep, meaningful or groundbreaking - it's a teen oriented girly movie. Its purpose is to be light, fluffy and entertaining. It fulfils that purpose, but of course the fact that it was "Britney's first film role" overshadowed all and led to the kind of derision that took it far more seriously than it was ever meant to be. Of course it's cheesy, but as fluffy teen fare this movie works - in fact, there's actually a pretty sensitive treatment of sexual assault in the movie. Britney, contrary to reports, is perfectly believable. Never in danger of winning any Oscars for it, but certainly no better or worse than many of the lauded teen stars of 2002 when it came out.
That said, even as a fan who if anything would be biased in her favour, it doesn't sit right. I could never shake the impression that this was more a furthering of Brand Britney and an attempt to push the 16 year old schoolgirl image out of people's minds since she was by then 21 ('I'm Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman' and all that) than a real film project for her, and the movie does little to dispel that. Teen movies have shown they can be more intelligent than popcorn fluff, and this lacks the wit and bite of oldies like Sixteen Candles or more recent films like Mean Girls.
It's not bad, it'll happily enough entertain its target audience (teens and Britney fans), and as far as films go I've seen far worse. However, she would have been much better off going the way of Beyonce or Justin Timberlake and going the traditional studio based route into films rather than setting up her own vanity project via her record label. I can't imagine she would have lacked for offers, and it might have allowed her something a bit more substantial to test her acting chops on.