Every once in a while, a film comes along that is so brilliant that its genius is never fully appreciated by the general public. From Justin To Kelly is far from that film. Instead, you get a film in the tradition of the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach films but with a little more sexual undertones, two American Idol contestants and all the humor of a Carrot Top movie. In fact, I'd like to call this movie Bleach Blanket Oh No.
Some people like to think that the fall of American Idol began with William Hung or any assorted auditioning novelties, Taylor Hicks, adding four judges or losing Paula Abdul. I like to think that American Idol began to fall with this film. How could it not? It's a film featuring the show's winner and runner-up in a romantic musical comedy filled with lots of this...
and more of this...
both of which will leave you looking like this...
That's the look of terror and confusion as you sink your teeth into 80-plus minutes of the greatest Pop love story you will wish had never been told.
From Justin To Kelly is the story of a girl named Kelly (for short) who decides to spend spring break with her two best friends (a party girl and a seemingly logical girl) in Miami. Meanwhile, a boy named Justin (not sure if this is short for anything) travels to Miami with his two best friends (a money hungry horndog and a geek) to not only enjoy vacation but to throw parties and make cash. While vacationing and during the first of many song and dance numbers, Kelly (for short) and Justin (short for ?)...wait for it...sing and dance with each other. I bet you never saw that coming.
Was it fate? Was it the music? Was it contractual and the film's title that brought these two together? Whatever it was, they meet and then spend the next six minutes trying to find each other which they do...in a women's washroom. From there, the two continue to persue each other with varying results thanks to the efforts of Kelly's jealous, party girl friend, Alexa, but more on that later.
While all of this is going on, Kelly's other friend, Kaya, falls for a local busboy and, deception aside, Alexa tries to get into all the parties and wants to be the belle of the ball or at least, the least slutty and least drunk spring break girl to not end up in a room with Joe Francis and a camera. Justin's friends also have their own agendas and stories as well. Brandon wants to make money and throw parties but angry boyfriends and the beach fuzz keep him down from succeeding and Eddie is there to meet up with a girl he met through a chat room...forum...suicide hotline or Amazon wishlist. In the end, you get six, well seven stories including one involving a Swedish model, her boyfriend and mistaken identity, about spring breakers and their interests, lives and loves and none of them being interesting or particularly acted well.
Since the focal point of the film is Justin and Kelly, let us return to them as they take an iceberg free trip on the lake filled with singing and almost matching outfits. In this scene, the chemistry is undeniable. They discuss seasickness and sing, discuss dating techniques and thoughts and sing and, most importantly, they're on a boat and singing. It's pure magic.
This magic is of course interrupted by Kelly's friend Alexa who either wants to be a party girl or wants something more with Justin or both. It's like the writers had the idea of party girl but then decided to make her the jealous friend type but leave the party girl element in. She's two different characters at the beginning of the film with the jealous aspect overriding anything else. Her plan is to secretly break Kelly's heart by showing that she and Justin are not right for each other due to their interests and by proving that he's like that with all of the girls and Kelly is just another girl.
Of course, this doesn't happen as the love between the two is too strong and you can tell by the passion conveyed in this image...
Now, that is passion. The fire, the embrace, the singing into each other's mouth. Take that Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.
This all leads to the film's conclusion of...wait for it...a song and dance number. This time, it is epic and involves everyone on the beach including the cop harassing Brandon and the Internet girl that the geek, I mean, Eddie was searching for. It's funny how everyone knows that it is time to dance and knows all of the same dance moves.
From Justin To Kelly is a film that exists because it has to. Well, more like, it exists because there was money to be had by exploiting the weaknesses of the two finalists of the first season of American Idol. By weaknesses, I mean their acting. Granted, Kelly Clarkson is definitely the better of the two but even then that's like being the smartest adult in a room full of 1-year-olds. Luckily, for me, I have a crush on Ms. Clarkson and a need to find some enjoyment in the movie. So hearing her say "my friends call me Kelly for short" works out just fine as does Justin Guarini telling her that he's tired of her games. "Game over." I laughed, I cried, I was touched at such conviction.
As I said, this film exists because it has to. It is a message to prevent other American Idol contestants from being given a film for being a finalist. Granted, Fantasia Barrino had a TV movie and Katharine McPhee has had a couple of supporting roles, they, now, know better than to agree to star in a film where they are in love with their co-finalist (Diana DeGarmo to Barrino, Taylor Hicks to McPhee). Also, thanks to this film failure, we never got a cop buddy action-drama with Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. Now, that would be a film worth watching.
Instead, just think you handed your money over to Guarini and Clarkson. It probably looked something like this, sad face and all.