From Justin to Kelly review by Mike Long

I don't watch a lot of TV (Except for The Simpsons, the greatest show ever.), typically because I'm watching DVDs to review. Thusly, I've never seen a single episode of American Idol...not that I really regret this fact. But, I felt that this wouldn't hinder my ability to review From Justin to Kelly, the feature film starring American Idol champ Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini. Of course, the fact that the millions of fans who loved the show didn't go see the movie should have been a clue to me that I was in for a bummpy ride.

In the film, Kelly (Kelly Clarkson)is a shy waitress from Texas, who is convinced to go to Miami for Spring Break by her best friends, Alexa (Katherine Bailess) and Kaya (Anika Noni Rose). Also in town are Justin (Justin Guarini) and Brandon (Greg Siff), who make up BRJ Productions, a duo who are famous for their wild beach parties. Along for the ride is their computer-nerd friend Eddie (Brian Dietzen), who is hoping to meet his on-line girlfriend.

Justin and Kelly run into one another on the beach, and sparks fly immediately. However, Alexa is also attracted to Justin, and attempts to sabotage any potential relationship between Justin and Kelly. And Kelly is unsure what to think of Justin, due to his "party boy" reputation. Will these two young vacationers be able to overcome these obstacles and find true love?

In the past few weeks, there have been many reports that the release of Gigli robbed From Justin to Kelly of its title of "Worst Movie of the Summer". Well, Gigli must be pretty damn bad. From Justin to Kelly is not a very good movie, even with the low expectations that most viewers probably have for it. We all know that Justin and Kelly are singers, not actors, and it was widely publicized that the film was made very quickly to capitalize on the popularity of American Idol. But that didn't stop producer Simon Fuller and his brother Kim Fuller from going ahead with the project, which I'm sure looked good on paper. But, in reality, this film is a disaster from begining to end.

Please allow me to list the low-points. For starters, yes, Kelly and Justin aren't actors, and at times, they come across as incredibly awkward. But, in fairness they are both likable here. The other actors are fair at best, and Katherine Bailess has the worst voice ever -- I flinched every time she opened her mouth. I don't think anyone expected the film's story to be original, and it truly isn't, but it also goes to far and contains way too many subplots. Anyone who was actually paying to see this movie wanted to see Justin and Kelly, not a bunch of superfluous characters. The "drama" is very forced and none of the film's scenes feel realistic. (My favorite facet is when Kelly begins judging Justin's morals after meeting him for the first time. Yeh, that happens.) As noted above, the movie came together very quickly. Maybe the filmmakers thought that when they got to Miami, a good script would be waiting there for them.

But, the movie ultimately fails as a musical. Director Robert Iscove is a long-time director and choregrapher, whose dance number in She's All That is the only good moment in that awful film. So, there was a chance that the song-and-dance scenes in From Justin to Kelly would be good. But, they aren't. This film wants to be a traditional musical, but it isn't. In your typical musical, the actors stop talking and begin singing and dancing to continue the plot. In From Justin to Kelly, something similar happens, but the songs don't really address the story. They are simply pop songs that relate to love or whatever. Even worse, the songs aren't very good. Each one is instantly forgettable and sounds like a million songs on the radio. From Justin to Kelly's biggest sin is that it isn't fun. That's the least that this film could offer, but it can't even go that far. The movie is supposed to be fluffy Summer fun, but it's a pointless dud that won't satisfy fans of American Idol or anyone else for that matter...but at least it's only 80-minutes long.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has the pleasure of brining From Justin to Kelly to DVD. (A week after Chicago? Was that smart?) The DVD offers both the full-frame and widescreen versions of the film. (For the purpose of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed.) The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. The picture is fairly sharp and clear, but as the bulk of the film takes place on the sunny Miami beaches, there is visible grain in many shots. The colors look very good, as Iscove and his costumers have painted the characters with many different shades. The picture shows few signs of artifacting and there aren't any noticeable defects from the source material. The DVD features a very nice Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The songs sound very good and there is a great deal of subwoofer action and some nice surround effects. The dialogue is always audible and there is no distortion on the track. Of course, this nice audio don't make the songs any better.

The DVD comes packed with several extras. There is an extended version of the film was contains 10 extra minutes and two new dance numbers, "Brigther Star" and "With Love From Me To You". There is an audio commentary with Iscove, Kelly and Justin. This is a fun commentary, as this is the first time that Kelly and Justin are seeing the film. Kelly loves pointing out all of the scenes in which she is squinting due to the sunshine. They comment on the production, but never mention the film's box-office failure. (The track may have been recorded before the film was released.) Due to the fact that the widescreen side contains both the extended version and the theatrical cut, the commentary has been edited to fill out that extra 10 minute length. To do this, they have repeated certain comments. It's very weird. Why did they feel that they had to put the commentary on the extended version? The disc contains 3 deletd scenes, each of which are very short and add nothing to the story. There is also a 1-minute gag reel. The disc has three featurettes, all of which could've easily been edited together. "Video Scrapbook" is an 8-minute segment with gives an overview of the film and has soundbytes from the actors and many behind-the-scenes shots. In "Center Stage with Kelly & Justin", the two stars talk about making their first movie. And in "Singers Who Dance...Dancers Who Sing?" (6 minutes), choroegrapher Travis Payne talks about the dancing in the film.

2 out of 10 Jackasses

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