From Justin to Kelly


What’s wrong with me? Before the film started I looked around and saw that, unsurprisingly, I was at least ten years older than anyone else in attendance! More so, I was clearly the most excited about seeing the flick. Screw “The Hulk”, this is the movie I’ve been anticipating ever since it was greenlighted – barely six months ago. That’s right, in the tradition of quicky teen-oriented ‘60s B-movies, “From Justin to Kelly” was shot in a month with less than 10M$ and rushed to the screen while its stars are still hot – maybe. It’s only been a year since we first discovered the nice Texan girl-next-door with the big voice and what can only be described as Sideshow Bob if he was a Backstreet Boy, when they went face-to-hair in the finale of the first American Idol. Since then they both released solo albums but, with another season of Idol already in the can, a “From Ruben to Clay” would be more timely.

Still, as a fan of campy musicals like Grease and Elvis’s oeuvre, I was psyched beyond reason for what was sure to be spectacularly so-bad-it’s-good. You don’t go to a TV reality show spin-off for high art, you go expecting the worst and revelling in it. You know it’s gonna suck, but in what wonderful ways will it suck, that’s what gleefully drives you. And CROM! did the movie ever deliver: I haven’t laughed this hard all year! Granted, I was actually laughing at the would-be earnest moments more than at all the pratfalls, but I can’t deny how fun this movie is, intentionally or not. It’s as braindead as director Robert Iscove’s She’s All That, but that dud did have a really cool, totally out-of-the-blue choreographed dance number to Fatboy Slim’s Rockafeller Skank. Well, “From Justin to Kelly” is like that scene blown up to feature length.

Kelly Clarkson plays Kelly, a waitress in a country bar who lets herself be bullied by her girlfriends into spending spring break in Miami. She’s a goody-two-shoes not particularly fond of binge drinking and meaningless sex, but through the madcap beach partying she manages to find love at first sight. Justin (Justin Guarini) is an infamous thong-chasing party animal, but he also feels an instant romantic connection and he’s ready to let go of his crazy ways to be with her. Unfortunately, Kelly’s bitch slut friend Alexa (Katherine Bailess) is jealous and she’ll do anything, even use devious text-messaging trickery, to keep Kelly away from Justin and nab the curly-haired heartthrob for herself…

So you get Kelly as a wholesome but charming girl, which is fine, but we’re supposed to buy that Justin is a super-macho playa who rocks Spring Break with his “Pennsylvania Posse”, organising wild parties and whipped cream bikini contests? Maybe we could… IF HE WASN’T THE GOOFIEST LOOKING MOFO! Bless that fool, I was grinning and chuckling every time he was on screen, whether dancing like a bobble-head doll, doing the beat-box (!), riding a hovercraft in a clash of the titans with a redneck also hot for Kelly (!!!) or crooning to her with all the conviction of a young Michael Bolton!

“From Justin to Kelly” is a gloriously cheesy movie. I do wish they’d spend more time with the title performers instead of cutting to their not-so-amusing friends, like Brandon (Greg Siff), a PG-rated Stifler prompt to white-boy rapping that’s more Vanilla Ice than Eminem, Eddie (Brian Dietzen), the dork looking to meet a girl he met on the Internet, and Kaya (Anika Noni Rose), who’s enjoying a fling too with a Cuban busboy (Jason Yribar), but all the scenes between Kelly and Justin are pure gold. That first number with everyone dancing with towels and volleyballs, Justin and Kelly’s tender moment in the girls bathroom (“My hair won’t even fit through that”), their boat ride at sunset where they’re both dressed all in white and serenading each other (“Let’s sail away and meet forever, BABY, where the crystal ocean melts into the SKYYYYYYYYY!!”), when they finally kiss with all the passion of a brother and his kid sister, the epic full-cast cover of KC & the Sunshine Band’s That’s the Way I Like It (uh-huh, uh-huh)

“From Justin to Kelly” is the guilty pleasure to beat this summer. I don’t know if I can recommend it, but I know that I already can’t wait to see it again!