Fox // 2003 // 81 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 25th, 2003
"Be afraid -- be very afraid."
-- The Fly (though a very apt tagline for this film as well)
It's a movie sprung forth from a popular television show about a singing contest. Need I say more?
Justin Guarini plays a character named Justin who tries to woe a character named Kelly, played by Kelly Clarkson. This all takes place during a spring break that could only happen on the distant planet Hormone. In-between the scenes of pointless dialogue and inane humor, the cast breaks out into song. While they're purring numbers rejected from the Britney Spears songbook, they often shake their booties to poorly choreographed dance routines. Soon the credits are rolling, along with the eyes of most everyone in attendance.
Just a few short months ago Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini sneaked their way into the hearts of millions of American Idol fans. They sang their mediocre little hearts out, and Kelly came out victorious. Her songs are all over the radio and Justin, while coming in second place, released his own studio album. Then came their movie From Justin to Kelly, which quickly slid in and out of theaters, a major disaster due in part to two reasons: 1.) it sucked and 2.) it blew.
I realize that the majority of you reading this review won't have seen From Justin to Kelly. I know this because the film made a grand total of $38.93 theatrically. My guess is that you've wandered into this review with your curiosity intact. "How bad can From Justin to Kelly really be?," you're wondering. I'm here to tell you that it's so bad it may garner a cult following. I'm taking a large leap of faith by saying this, but here goes: It's Grease 2 bad.
Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini should never be allowed on film again. Ever. In fact, I'm requesting that it be made illegal if they even show up in their own home movies. Justin is slightly better at emoting than a baked potato, though in some scenes I could see the potato taking the lead. Kelly Clarkson, a cutie with a homespun drawl, is most likely the one holding the potato. I was apparently supposed to buy that these two love each other. I'd have better luck believing in a love scene between Cameron Diaz and Dustin Diamond.
Ah, but man cannot live on Just and Kelly alone. There's also a supporting cast that appears to have been spewed forth from your local community college theater department. Kelly's best friend Alexa (played by Katherine Bailess with a bitchiness not seen since the era of Bette Davis) is so evil and vile that it defies description. When she finally answers for her heinous actions (she keeps deceiving Justin and lying to Kelly) and explains her motives, well...I'll just say you'll be wishing someone would have taken the writers out and beaten them with their own severed limbs. Of course, what would a crappy movie be like without the stereotypes? There's the Computer Geek, the Jealous Boyfriend, the Player, the Bland Best Friend, and so on, and so on. This film has so many stock characters it may be mistaken for a warehouse.
And then there are the songs. Oh, the horrible, mind-numbing songs! Not since Grease 2's "Reproduction" have I heard such ear-shattering music. Each song features Kelly and Justin whining about how much they think they're meant to be together. Never mind that it's spring break, where the only thing that lasts are the genital warts you caught the night before. Each number is slickly filled with looped beats and voices that sound like they're reaching mild orgasms. Fiddler on the Roof this ain't.
It took a pair of balls the size of football helmets to bring From Justin to Kelly to the screen. Someone thought that this was a good idea. This movie was someone's baby from the very beginning. They had hopes and dreams of it becoming the next "big thing." They were apparently clinically insane. Recommended viewing only under the heavy influence of alcohol or elephant tranquilizers.
From Justin to Kelly is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film is a low budget musical, yet the transfer looks pretty good. Go figure. Though I wouldn't consider this to be a stunning transfer (there are a few minor hindrances, i.e., edge enhancement and halos), overall the colors and black levels appeared appropriately solid. Fans will be happy with the way this print looks, even though by "fans" I mean three teenage girls who live in eastern Ohio. Also included on this disc is a hacked full frame version of the film.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Yes, you too can experience the travesty that is From Justin to Kelly in glorious 5.1 surround! Actually, this soundtrack is better than expected -- most of the songs are mixed fairly well with a few scattered directional effects popping up. The dialogue, effects, and music are all crystal clear, though I'm not sure that's a good thing or not. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.
Of course, no one over at Fox had the good sense to just make this a bare bones disc. Nooooooo, I have to wade through a batch of special features that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. Aside of two versions of the film (the theatrical version and an extended version with two extra musical numbers), here's what's been included on this disc:
Commentary Track by Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, and director Robert Iscove: Wow, talk about the world's most unnecessary commentary track. Unless you really care about stories involving a few overcast days and rough rehearsal numbers, you'll want to skip this track. However, I have to admit that Clarkson and Guarini seem to be genuinely nice folks -- their enthusiasm is infectious! Then you remember you're watching From Justin to Kelly and calm down fairly quickly. Lots of gaps and giggling pepper this track, so be prepared to use your chapter skip button a whole lot.
Deleted Scenes: Each of these is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. There's no need to discuss the artistic quality of these scenes: if you enjoyed the movie, you'll get a kick out of these scenes. The best features an alternate ending where one character ends up being gay! How utterly wacky!
Video Scrapbook: Your basic featurette. Clarkson and Guarini give interviews and actually try (in vain) to give some historical information about their characters (Guarini is especially laughable as he tries to explain how his character has been hurt in the past...or some bullshit like that). Director Robert Iscove also shares his thoughts about the film, not that anyone really cares. For hardcore fans only (shout out to those three girls in Ohio!).
Center Stage with Kelly and Justin: This is yet another featurette that includes interviews with the stars and director, some behind the scenes footage, and snippets from the dance rehearsals. In other words, boring stuff.
Dancers who sing...singers who dance?: A short featurette on the dancing as done by singers, and vice versa. Choreographer Travis Payne discusses the highs and lows of dance numbers while the rest of the cast chimes in about the rehearsal process. Along the way, we're privy to some behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot.
Gag Reel: Watch as Kelly and Justin flub their lines! But the important question is: who cares?
Lord almighty, From Justin to Kelly was a horrible movie. So bad that as of this writing it's rated as the #2 worst film ever at the Internet Movie Database (right behind the J-Lo/Ben Affleck bomb Gigli). Yet as the dust settles on this little monstrosity I truly believe we're seeing a cult hit in the making. Just picture it: fans dressing up like Justin and Kelly at theaters, laughing voraciously at their beach blanket antics, and singing along to the cloyingly poppy songs.
Remember, you heard it here first...
From Justin to Kelly is found guilty of being a pointless musical, but will most likely get early parole due to the cult status it may eventually achieve.
Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Extended and Theatrical Cut
* Video Scrapbook
* "Center Stage with Justin and Kelly" Featurette
* "Dancers that Sing...and Singers that Dance?" Featurette
* Commentary Track by Justin Guarini, Kelly Clarkson and Director Robert Iscove
* Gag Reel
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site
* American Idol