Venture number two in to the cesspit of IMDb.com’s bottom one hundred movies brings me this week to what they have decided is the fourteenth worst film of all time, 2003’s From Justin To Kelly. In a misguided attempt to milk the American Idol cash cow for all it was worth, the film stars the winner and runner up of the US talent show’s very first series Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, the former of which is a multi-platinum international recording success, whilst the latter is, well, Justin Guarini. The plot doesn’t take much concentration to master, Justin and Kelly are star crossed lovers who cross paths in Miami on ‘Spring Break’ (a cultural phenomenon that as a Brit, I can’t quite get my head around), and so ensues a series of obstacles that our fresh faced and full voiced protagonists must overcome in order to find true love. Considering the origins of the film’s main stars, you won’t be surprised to learn that From Justin To Kelly is a musical, and it has been well documented on this blog before that I am, unashamedly, a bastard for a musical. Both Justin and Kelly are in good voice, as one would expect them to be, and at least three of the eight or so numbers had me tapping my foot or bobbing my head.
Unfortunately, it is the parts in between the singing and dancing that consign the film to a place on IMDb’s list of shame. I would say that I love Kelly Clarkson more than your average pop music connoisseur, but not even I can defend her attempt at acting here. For somebody who can show such a range of emotion in her singing, she only really managed to perfect the ‘annoyed teenager’ look, one that was thankfully needed for the majority of her scenes. Justin, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. It turns out that the boy can actually act, or at least it looked like he could, I can’t tell if my standards were lowered thanks to Miss Clarkson or not. He seemed to actually be able to provide a character for the viewer, a two dimensional character, but a semi-believable character nonetheless. Good for you Justin, you’ll always have the fact that you were better than Kelly for at least eighty-two minutes of your life.
I can’t help but think that From Justin To Kelly’s biggest downfall was simply the time that it was released. Don’t get me wrong, it is a bad, bad film, but I have seen worse creations churned out under the banner of ‘Original Disney Channel’ TV movies and not receive anywhere near as much hate and negativity. Released only six months after Chicago, arguably the best movie musical of the last twenty-five years, the film was never going to be anything more than a treat for the younger fans of American Idol, and I would imagine that it succeeded in that task. If I had seen this film as a child, it would probably have stood up to multiple viewings thanks purely to the catchy songs and recognisable (yet sadly awful) leading lady.
If this had been a TV movie made by Disney in the age of High School Musical, it would have taken half as much slack as it did back in 2003 and ever since. To be honest, it is nowhere near bad enough to deserve to be classed as the FOURTEENTH worst film ever made. I could probably name fifty that I have enjoyed watching less. It’s brainless, it’s cheesy, but overall it’s mildly entertaining, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve already YouTubed some of the songs since.
More than once.