Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

From Justin To Kelly

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

So, are the dating rumors true? It's a sign of the deep cynicism and desperation behind From Justin To Kelly, a spectacularly awful musical-comedy built around American Idol slaves Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, that such a question could ever be dignified with a response. Moving from the antiseptic environs of reality television into the natural light, Guarini and Clarkson behave like sheepish animals forced to mate in captivity; they kiss as if their lips were made of wilted brussels sprouts. As with this year's other Spring Break cheapie, The Real Cancun, cinema proves again to be the great leveler of bad TV, cutting down the network bean-counters hoping to find new revenue streams in a medium that lays their hubris bare. Deemed unsuitable for critics—who, according to Clarkson, "only like stuff like In The Bedroom"—this stinking piece of pop-culture flotsam washes ashore on Miami Beach, where the would-be sweethearts meet among the throngs of wholesome, freshly scrubbed revelers. They're from two different worlds: Guarini, the self-styled "King Of Spring Break," must relinquish his crown to have any chance with Clarkson, a good-girl Texan whom friends describe as "a body shot away from Amish." Referring to themselves as the "Pennsylvania Posse," Guarini and his buddies (sensitive nerd Brian Dietzen and chiseled ladies' man Greg Siff) throw beachside events, such as a whipped-cream bikini contest and a "Margarita Madness" party that appears to have been sponsored by the Women's Christian Temperance Union. For her part, the squeaky-clean Clarkson gets dragged into this den of PG-rated sin by a starry-eyed romantic (Anika Noni Rose) and a duplicitous blonde tramp (Katherine Bailess) who does everything she can to separate the lovebirds. But the by-the-numbers plotting, courtesy of Spice World screenwriter Kim Fuller (brother of evil-genius Idol producer Simon Fuller), exists only to lead the audience to what it really wants to see: canned orchestrations, syrupy beach ballads, strangled octaves, and plenty of robotic, boy-band bump-and-grind. The two leads, fulfilling their indentured servitude to the Fox Corporation, look distinctly uncomfortable forcing chemistry with each other, as well as croaking a cheesy sunset duet about "timeless" love as if they're bound to the terms of a restraining order. It doesn't help that director Robert Iscove (She's All That) converts Miami Beach into an art-deco revamp of Branson, Missouri, removing the suggestion that these teens belong to the same species as the sex monsters in The Real Cancun. More than anything, From Justin To Kelly needs Simon Cowell, the fork-tongued Idol judge who gives the show its only sliver of tension. Perhaps he can be convinced to offer a few withering appraisals on the DVD commentary track; goodness knows, even Paula Abdul can't be counted on for encouragement here.