At lunch, one of the prospective love interests returns from bathroom. The brunette, surprised, says “you’re back!” and asks for his name. He brushes the hair away from his forehead and says “Michael.” The brunette says that they all “need to see more of him.” He repeats it back and they tell him to audition on Saturday at 1 pm. He’s doubtful and thinks it’s “an evil plan.” The brunette looks around to her friends and says “we are up to no good.” Britney Spears tells him it’s going to be fun. He asks if she’ll be there. She says yes. He readily agrees to show up. They tell him thanks and to call his friends. After he leaves, they all burst out laughing. It’s 2000 again, everybody.

The bottom of the screen reads: 1:15 pm and Spears is speeding her way to the set. She applies some more of her pink lipstick and exits the car. Outside, there is a marquee stand, reading “Make Me Casting.” The men stand around, gazing adoringly at her. One model holds his hat to his chest.

Against a narrow background, with a black lace pattern (to match her outfit), she walks down the hallway, with a light glaring behind her. She sits down and rubs her butt against the wall. Then, she crawls on the floor.

The judges sit at their table, talking, notepads in front of them. She walks onto the set and she and her backup dancers shimmy as they watch Orangetheory Fitness.

The clapboard is shown, signaling the start of the auditions. Guy #1, who is blonde, has a sunflower and brings it to his nose. He sings. The girls swoon. He takes her hand and then tries to kiss her on the neck. She tells him no. Guy #2 strums his guitar, shirtless. They all clap for him. Guy #3 takes off his white tank top and throws it to them. Spears catches it. Then, he pours water all over himself. The girls scream as he gyrates his hips. They take a group photo with him.

Guy #4 approaches the microphone and then he takes off his suit and shirt underneath. Spears, her curiosity piqued, puts her finger between her teeth. He holds a weight on his shoulder. Guy #5 slides on the floor, his shirt open. Guy #6 does flips, which amazes the girls. Guy #7 flexes and shows off his muscles. Guy #8, who is short, pumps his arms to the music. Spears joins him in his dance. In another room, the guys watch the other auditions on the monitor.

Guy #9 sits on the chair, waiting for her. She walks over to him, eyeing him and then sits on his lap. She hugs him and points to his tattoo, mouthing “Oh my god!” The girls laugh. She walks away from him.

It’s Guy #2 that gets the second interview. He flips the pages of the script in the air. Then he and Spears embrace, then kiss. She puts her arm around his shoulder, leading him to the bedroom. Her friends stand by, feeling as though they are watching a private moment.

In black and white, G-Eazy shows up in one of the monitors. He begins to unbutton his shirt.

On the monitor, Guy #2 is making out with Spears on the bed. One of her backup dancers covers up one of her friend’s eyes. He kisses her body, then her neck. She closes her eyes. Her friends, still watching, slap the screen as it turns fuzzy. After having sex with him, she applies her lip gloss.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

On her second comeback, Britney Spears is trying to return to the good old days of 2004. There is the abundance of lace, a sex scene, and the ever present fedora. However, the cut off shorts (with strings) bring back paparazzi shots of her eating Cheetos while trying not to trip as she held her baby. It was right before the 5150 hold. Suddenly, snarking on Spears’ cutoff shorts and her latest Letter of Truth seemed outright mean.

Somehow, revisiting 2004 is apt. It was before everything fell apart. Given the situation at the time, the tongue-in-cheek nods have a bigger, psychological impact than the nostalgia that’s intended. For the first time, in a while, it’s as though Spears is able to move on from that difficult time. Seeing shades of 2000 Britney, with the exaggerated “Oh my god!” has come full circle and has recovered. Glad to see her back and smiling.

     Director: Randee St. Nicholas  Year: 2016