From Justin to Kelly: A Tale of Two American Idols

Day Seven of the Two-Week Torturefest

When this was ooonnnn / I couldn’t breathe for a looong tiime / I’m suffocatiiin’ yeah yeah / Kelly Clarkson / Is this really / What you waaant….

NOTE: This review regards the extended edition, which includes nine more minutes of two songs that are just as horrific as everything that surrounds them both.


Directed by: Robert Iscove
Written by: Kim Fuller
Justin: Justin Guarini
Kelly: Kelly Clarkson
Also Starring: Anika Noni Rose, Brian Dietzen, Christopher Bryan, Greg Siff, Jason Yribar, Jessica Sutta, Justin Gorence, Kaitlin Riley, Katherine Bailess, Marc Macaulay, Theresa San-Nicholas

Distributed by 20th Century Fox on June 20, 2003. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 81 mins. Rated PG by the MPAA–mature themes, sexual situations, mild language. Reviewed cut released with no MPAA rating at 90 mins.

From Justin to Kelly: A Tale of Two American Idols was watched on February 23, 2013.

“My winning is getting to perform. That’s my victory.”
–Kelly Clarkson

After reading the quote above, I couldn’t help but laugh. Kelly Clarkson put on quite a show here, went over the top, the whole nine yards. But she was far from victorious. From Justin to Kelly truly nuked at the box office. In its opening weekend–a summer release–it was screened at more than two-thousand theaters in the U.S. and Canada combined, failed to gross a sparse three million dollars. It holds the record for the shortest theatrical run, with a home video release only six weeks after it hit theaters. The flick made less than five million bucks at the box office over a small budget of TWELVE million.

During award season, it accepted the Governor’s Award for Distinguished Underachievement in Choreography; the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Musical of Our First 25 Years; and Razzie nominations for Worst Actor, Actress, Picture, Director, Screenplay, Remake or Sequel (a joke, of course, on its unoriginality), and Worst Screen Couple.

I know. I watched an awful movie, but I could’ve gone worse (not to brag, but I did). There’s a few ironies, in all its dreadfulness, that went past the makers but sort of enthused me. Here’s one: Within the first few minutes of From Justin to Kelly, we learn that one of the characters is lactose intolerant. I had the urge to pause and skim back to see if he was having an allergic reaction to being in such a cheesy flick.

From Justin to Kelly is a highly misleading title. The subtitle is even worse: “A Tale of Two American Idols”. This is a trashed sleepover movie for the preteen age group, and it’s horribly outdated. Maybe if I were watching season one of American Idol, I would’ve known who Justin Guarini is, but the name by now is dead to pop culture. Kelly Clarkson, on the other hand, won, so of course I know who she is.

Let me just say, though, that whoever assists her with her music regularly could have made this flick a bit more acceptable. The trashy exchanges between the couple are far from romantic. The film features “singers” who need coaching simply so they don’t start shrieking in the Dorian mode. The lesser half of the music is mixed ever so cacophonously. The script offers maybe six or seven intended jokes total (granted, I expected none), and they’re all suppressed with eye rolling. Must I go on?

All right, I digress. This is the ideal gossip-fest movie. It’s not at all a documentary, because documentaries, ya know, they’re, like, borrang. This is the Dirty Dancing with formula treated as manna from heaven–no offense to Patrick Swayze or Jennifer Grey. Oh yeah, and smears of Grease. For the record, J. Travolta and O. Newton-John, if either of you wishes to be cremated upon your passing, please take every overrated, falsettophilic print of Grease with you.

There’s a clique of cool guys and a clique of valley girls. They’re all over the guys, unless of course they do something stupid, in which case there’s a five-second “eewww” before returning to the “Ohhh they’re so hooot” routine. Then one of the guys–Justin–approaches one of the girls–Kelly. This is promised in the title, but oh my god, she gets rejected! How unexpected! Do you think she’s going to approach him later? Since Kelly Clarkson was born in Texas (how the hell do I know this?), I’d like to propose a neologism inspired by the film: Texploitation. Unless you’d actually care to know how generic a relationship Justin and Kelly enjoyed, please save yourself some time and money.

Postscript: I went through this entire film assuming it was just a bad attempt to display the relationship between Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson. I was wrong, but I had to look at Wikipedia to discover so. First of all, the “real” Justin and Kelly never actually dated, unless of course I’m not looking hard enough (I did a “control+F” on both stars’ articles). Second of all, their characters in the film were actually named Justin Bell and Kelly Taylor, according to Wikipedia, but I’m guessing that was an edit with no real credibility, because I didn’t hear their surnames at all.


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12 thoughts on “From Justin to Kelly: A Tale of Two American Idols

  1. Ah. One of the movies I did for my torture weekends. It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be, actually.

    This movie was made because the producers wanted to take advantage of the fine print on their Idol contracts. Neither of the stars wanted to do it.

    Justin used to be a (for lack of a better word) host on the TV Guide channel, back when I watched TV.

    • Ha! A host on TV Guide? That’s beyond hysterical.

      I’m not all that surprised that neither one of the stars wanted to do it. They could’ve just said no, though, and saved us a lot of time.

      What happened to your torture weekends?

      • They were obligated by their contracts when they won American Idol is what I meant.

        I found myself not actually tortured by several of the movies I picked, so I gave the concept up.

        • Haha yeah I came to realize that “movie torture” becomes easy (and in some cases, you can find a loophole, like giving a MST3k-esque commentary) once you’ve seen several abysmal movies. Three weeks would desensitize me to the terrible side of cinema!

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