I’m a firm believer that few things in life can be all bad. Most movies have at least a little something to redeem them. My notes for From Justin to Kelly feature exactly one compliment: The font used for the opening credits is “interesting.” If I’m limited to saying something nice, my review would stop right there. From Justin to Kelly makes Beach Blanket Bingo look like Doctor Zhivago by comparison. The acting is tone-deaf, the editing is choppy, and the musical numbers are a pile of old, white dog poo. These 81 minutes will challenge the stamina of even the strongest bad movie fan.
You can see the contempt Hollywood has for teenage audiences in the characters that populate movies like this. The guys are narcissistic, hornball clowns, and the girls who love them are vacuous and shrill. The plot doesn’t seem like it was written by a resident of this planet: Justin Guarini and his merry band of dickweeds descend on Lauderdale, hoping to earn income by pouring whipped cream on girls’ titties and racing hovercraft (yeah, you read that right). Kelly Clarkson—who somehow radiates warmth and talent in this drivel—arrives with her grrrls (one of whom embodies the Bitchy Best Friend cliché so well her part could’ve been written by a computer). Kelly and Justin become star-crossed lovers, mainly because they finished first and second on American Idol.
Oh, friends, you have no idea how the plot thickens. Actually, it hardens like a pair of concrete boots dragging the movie to the bottom of the Gulf. Our couple (whose chemistry is best described as inert) are destined to be together, so, of course, the script concocts stupid ways to keep them apart: There are deceptive texts (no one uses vowels in these messages, a pet peeve of mine), misunderstood conversations, and farcical shenanigans and…I check the clock. Only seventeen minutes have gone by, with over an hour to go?? Srsly?? Fck!
The plot, though mangy and malnourished, is actually sandwiched between long, interminable stretches of filler. It’s as if the writers ran out of dialogue and just pasted: “INSERT SHITTY MUSIC NUMBER HERE.” Both leads are talented, but they’re hamstrung by hookless, lifeless, poorly produced music, and choreography that looks like somebody’s drunk aunt at a Christmas party. Nobody—not Elvis or Sinatra, nobody—has the charisma to make this shit watchable.
Three of the hardest genres to pull off are the romantic comedy, the musical, and the teen movie. The only hope a filmmaker has is to fall back on what makes any movie great: A smart script with complex characters who do what they do for realistic reasons. From Justin to Kelly gives us stupid people who act out of idiocy. If some movies are so bad they’re good, this is one just so bad it’s sad. But…I’ll say it again: If you’re doing a Save the Date for a cabana party and need a decent font, check out the opening titles. They’re kinda fun and festive. And then don’t watch any more.