Pop Culture Princess

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Bad Movie Month goes From Justin to Kelly as well as from bad to worse

Welcome once again to our Bad Movie Month celebration of Sad Singers On Screen and we have a two-for-one deal here with From Justin to Kelly, reluctantly released in 2003.

I say reluctantly because the studio was already planning a direct to video release before the movie hit theaters. In fact, movie houses were threatening not to show it due to the haste of the home video date and perhaps they would've done all of those ticket buyers a real favor if they had done just that.

The movie stars both the winner of the first season of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, and the runner-up, Justin Guarini, whose characters happen to be named Justin and Kelly! Yep, that's the first sign of lazy writing,folks, when you can't even be bothered to think up fictional names for your leads.

We met Kelly as a struggling singer/waitress, who has a guy named Luke pining for her but of course, she won't give him the time of day and besides, he'll do for a convenient romantic blocker later on in the story. Kelly's gal pals insist that she go off on spring break with them,mainly because they need someone to drive them down to Florida and since taking time off from a waitress job is just that easy, off they go!:

Kelly and friends run into Justin and his buddies, who happen to run a party planning business that promotes tasteful events like a whipped cream bikini contest.

The two of them meet and supposedly fall instantly in love, which is hard to believe as Justin and Kelly have all of the chemistry of wet cardboard and a soggy box of matches. Most of the main plot has them being prevented from truly hooking up, due to misunderstandings mostly caused by a scheming frenemy of Kelly's and surprise,surprise, Luke shows up to challenge Justin to a hovercraft race for Kelly's heart!

 The tone of FJtK is very much like one of those long running sitcom episodes, where the whole gang goes off on a spring break/holiday adventure. An episode like that is usually a ratings stunt but they do tend to work as everyone has their special little sub plots(such as one of Kelly's friends finds love with a waiter and a nerdy pal of Justin's keeps missing his meeting with an internet girlfriend) while the main drama is all about our leading lady and man making a major love decision.

The trouble with that is by the time a sitcom gets to that level, we're already invested in the characters and willing to go along with the ride at a new locale. Here, we're meeting this people for the first time as they sing and dance in a boringly basic style and such a forgettable first impression does not make for a movie even at the short amount of running time here(less than a hour and a half) worth paying good money for:

The music for FJtK redefines the term banal, as the worst offender on the soundtrack is a neutered rendition of "That's The Way I Like" and uh-un,uh-un, you won't like it at all!

Also, the musical numbers themselves are weirdly inconsistent. Either they're done in a "hey, let's sing and dance!" mode like Grease or "This is just a look into my inner thoughts" style, which probably explains why during a love duet between Justin and Kelly on a boat, neither of them are looking at each other.

That scene is so frustrating, as they're both staring straight ahead from opposite ends of the boat(and they're the only two people on board) while singing about their attraction to one another and they don't make any eye contact at all! Sure, Kelly pauses to speak in actual dialogue and turns around to look at him but not during the song! Justin's driving the boat so he has an excuse there but come on!

You want me to buy that they're falling head over heels in love and neither one takes a second to snatch a secret loving look over at their immortal beloved? Simon Cowell would find that worse than cruise ship singing there.

From Justin to Kelly was such an amazing film flop that it received a special Razzie award for Worst Musical of Our First 25 Years, quite the dubious honor indeed.

Kelly Clarkson has pretty much disowned the movie and who could blame her. Fortunately, her music career has made this stinker a mere road bump on her resume.

 Kelly has limited her acting appearances since then to guest spots on TV shows like Reba and country music themed specials,with some voice work for cartoons like King of the Hill and Phineas and Ferb, which is smart of her. That episode of Reba she was on was pretty funny, especially when some of the cast did a great impression of the AI judges panel:

Justin, on the other hand, has remained in the runner-up position. He has kept on with his music and done stage work along with parts in small films, his current mainstream gig being the new spokesman for Diet Dr. Pepper.

To be honest, even if From Justin to Kelly had done better(perhaps in an alternate universe), neither Kelly or Justin were destined to have much of an acting career. No doubt the studio was hoping for a modern day Frankie and Annette beach movie but some cinematic dinosaurs are best left buried in the sand.

Tune in next time on Bad Movie Month, when we walk down those Crossroads with Britney Spears and while you're waiting, maybe the taste of a Diet Dr. Pepper will be strong enough to quench the bland aftertaste of From Justin to Kelly:

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