Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, the two finalists from last year's singing battle royale, look utterly uncomfortable in their first feature film together. The plot has the two falling in and out of love over a Miami Spring Break, but they act like uneasy acquaintances. There's not a whiff of closeness in any scene they share, which is painfully evident when they take a romantic boat ride and stand about five feet apart.
Other bad signs: He never takes his shirt off. Her summer fashions look positively Amish. They share one kiss, which is shot in such soft focus, that it's hard to tell if they even lock lips. Supporting characters repeatedly mention the couple is meant to be together. Shouldn't we already know that?
I get the feeling that the stars were scared to offend the fickle public that has anointed them stars. Their performances seem a tad tentative, as if the Fox public relations staff is off camera giving them directions.
In all fairness to Guarini and Clarkson, I don't think any young A-list duo could have triumphed over this production. The subplots and supporting characters are too lame to even describe, and the musical numbers add nothing to the production. Songs, all of which sound to have been composed on the same Casio keyboard, don't coyly comment or add jazz to the plot. If the songs were on the radio, you'd turn it off.
Guarini and Clarkson perform the tunes in the same overdramatic, sing for the cheap seat manner that I've seen so often on Idol commercials and unwillingly heard on the airwaves. There is lots of dancing; most of it repetitive and poorly presented by director Robert Iscove (She's All That, Boys and Girls) and choreographer Travis Payne. It seems like every scene has three simultaneous, different routines filmed in boring long shots. One dance number is even cut with shots of skateboarders. Huh?
Quite possibly the most bizarre aspect of the movie is how tame it is, aside from Guarini and Clarkson acting like they're in a junior version of Interiors. The Spring Break portrayed in From Justin to Kelly is like a more scantily clad Disney World without the mascots. There's no booze (a notable exception being a half-drunk beer set before Justin), no sex, no heat. These are people in their twenties, but the behavior is decidedly pre-teen. I know the material is aimed at a younger crowd, but give the audience some credit. They've seen MTV and Girls Gone Wild promos. Whitewashing the usually hedonistic proceedings further highlights how phony and shallow the movie is.
Speaking of a lack of heat, I don't blame Justin and Kelly for the movie's poor qualities. A year ago, they were unknowns. Now they're being offered movies. Would anyone turn that down? However, I do blame the movie minds that assumed TV watchers would be gullible enough to flock to see an American Idol movie. It's the process that hooks viewers, not the participants. After all, a good portion of America voted for singers, not for actors.
Watch for the film on video in six weeks. Seriously. We're not kidding... and here it is, with two added musical numbers and, God help us, a commentary track from Justin and Kelly (and the director)!
Touch our monkeys.
Run time: 81 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th June 2003
Box Office USA: $4.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $4.9M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 10%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 57
IMDB: 2.1 / 10
Director: Robert Iscove
Producer: John Agoglia
Screenwriter: Kim Fuller
Starring: Kelly Clarkson as Kelly, Justin Guarini as Justin, Brandon Henschel as Dancer, Greg Siff as Brandon, Brian Dietzen as Eddie, Jason Yribar as Carlos, Justin Gorence as Greg, Christopher Bryan as Luke, Yamil Piedra as Darren, Katherine Bailess as Alexa, Anika Noni Rose as Kaya
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