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By Michael Dequina | April 27, 2002

Crossroads may mark Britney Spears’ first starring role in a film, but it is not the first feature in which she’s appeared. That distinction belongs to “Longshot,” a comedy in which Spears and many of her teen pop brethren (including all five *NSYNC-ers) make cameos. Filmed in 1999 (at least most of it–more on that later), it is only now receiving a straight-to-tape release. Given how absolutely wretched this movie is, I’m sure Spears and other bit players hoped the film would never see the light of day.
That should especially be the case with the *NSYNC guys, for the film was produced and co-written by their former manager/teen pop svengali Louis Pearlman (who himself has a cameo as a police chief). But Pearlman should thank his lucky stars that he was able to convince them and Spears to take part in the film, for those are its only weak selling points. The story, for those who may be interested in what the film is actually about: an L.A.-based personal trainer (Tony DeCamillis, who also produced and co-wrote with Pearlman–which explains why he’s the star) is blackmailed by a shady businessman (Paul Sorvino, whom I hope was paid well) into seducing a wealthy widow (Hunter Tylo, from daytime’s “The Bold and the Beautiful”) to obtain inside information. Needless to say he ends up falling for her, and the same happens between the widow’s teenage daughter (Shana Betz) and the trainer’s younger brother (Joey Schulthorpe), who has been suffering from confidence problems after missing a potentially game-winning shot in a big school basketball game.
The story proper is every bit as boring as it sounds, helped in no way by the astonishingly untalented leads. DeCamillis is nothing more than a bland slab of beefcake, falling back on gratuitous shots of his shirtless physique when all else fails (and does it ever, and quite often). The longhaired, charisma-free Schulthorpe appears to be a Pearlman music “discovery”; how else to explain his painful karaoke number midway through the film, later reprised music video-style before the closing crawl? Thankfully, the movie’s small-scale release virtually ensures that these two will never be heard from again.
Pearlman and veteran video director Lionel C. Martin seem all too acutely aware that they have two duds front and center as they pack just about every empty corner of each frame with a celebrity cameo. Not just Pearlman projects hot (Britney, *NSYNC), lukewarm (LFO, they of the infamously non sequitur lyrics), and ice cold (Take 5, Innocense, C-Note) turn up in odd walk-on roles, but also other kitsch stars: Dustin Diamond, KC of the Sunshine Band fame, even Kenny Rogers and pro wrestling icon The Rock. Yet Pearlman apparently didn’t think those names filmed in ’99 were enough of a distraction from the godawful goings-on, for his newest creation, reality TV stars O-Town, have been shoehorned into the movie by way of some awkwardly spliced-in bookend sequences.
So unless the thought of seeing Britney playing a flight attendant or Justin Timberlake done up in full parking valet regalia (perhaps these will prove to be eerily prescient sights in five to ten years time?) sounds like exciting entertainment, by all means check out “Longshot.” Otherwise, the chance of this being worth your while is, indeed, a longshot.

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