From Justin to Kelly

"American Idol" Season 1 Finale - Results Show

Review Haiku

65 days gone

30 movies watched, capped by

Justin and Kelly

Rating: 0.01/5, because I got a modicum of enjoyment from how awful it was

I’M DONE

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Here we are. It’s done. Finished. Kaput. It took me twice as long as I promised and was probably twice as painful, but I did it. It’s not about the destination – it’s about the journey. And what a journey it was.

I was initially going to do a sweeping recap of this entire challenge but have decided against it, for a number of reasons. First of all, it will simply repeat much of the information you’ve read over the last two months. Second, I can sprinkle in some final thoughts into this review instead. Finally, I don’t have the juice. I just don’t. This challenge stopped being fun a long, long time ago.

Why, then, did I select From Justin to Kelly as my final task? Surely I could have picked something of greater quality as a reward for my hard work.

No. I had to finish with this. It couldn’t happen any other way. I haven’t mentioned any other movies in the peripherals of reviews the way I have this one. Never have I anticipated the inevitable awfulness of a film. It had to be like this.

And yes, my friends, From Justin to Kelly lived up to the “hype.” In the category of dumb ideas with horrible execution, this one probably tops the list.

Oh me, oh my, where do I even begin

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I lived in a pop culture cavern as a child, but even I knew who Kelly Clarkson was. American Idol was, like, the coolest thing ever! At least the auditions were. I loved the auditions. Anyway, it was a massive hit the likes of which television had never seen. Kelly was right there in the middle.

I knew of Justin, but didn’t know much about him other than the fact that he came in second place and his last name was Iguana (oops). He was Corbin Bleu before High School Musical even existed. He could sing. He LOST American idol.

Marketers aren’t dumb. They knew that if a culture-inept little boy like me was aware of these two stars, the potential for movie profits was limitless. “Let’s pair Justin and Kelly in a movie!” an executive said. “Brilliant!” said another, and From Justin to Kelly was born.

And predictably, it was born without plot, character development, or directorial ability – only a camera, some microphones, and a bunch of teenage stereotypes running around on a beach trying to fuck each other’s brains out. There’s your synopsis.

This movie is like watching George Lucas destroy Star Wars. Here he has trade deals and viceroys and politics and he wrongly thinks its perfect, jarjarand he believes there is one more ingredient to make the final product a masterpiece. That’s how you end up with Jar-Jar Binks.

The studio behind From Justin to Kelly incorrectly believed that the two leads were spot-on, and hey, let’s add in a bunch of subplots to legitimize everything and make it an actual movie! The result? At least three subplots that, and let me make this abundantly clear, have zero association with Justin or Kelly and have no effect on the movie whatsoever. I cannot stress this enough:

Subplot 1: Kelly’s friend Kaya meets a dishwasher named Carlos and they have an on-and-off relationship that is more forced than meat through a grinder. They’re also both minorities so I have a sneaking suspicion the studio had to fill some quota.

Subplot 2: Justin’s friend Eddie, who whispers the word “computer” and is immediately labeled the world’s largest nerd (hahahaha the early 2000’s were so funny, guys), is chatting online with some babe and constantly brings it up. In the end, and this is not a typo, meets her on the beach after she lets slip that she spends all her day talking to some random guy on the Internet. I just….I can’t, not even in a movie like this. Unforgivable. And again, where the hell are Justin and Kelly?

Subplot 3: Justin’s jock friend (we have to get all the stereotypes in here) is constantly hounded by a policewoman because he’s…a jerk? It’s never really made clear, and in a similarly ludicrous ending it’s implied that he hooks up with her after he finds out she’s beautiful and off-duty. Plots!

Justin and Kelly

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This movie was 80 minutes long. The credits were at least 10 minutes and the unspeakably awful musical numbers took up at least 15 minutes, so let’s pretend this movie had 55 minutes of actual stuff happening. Justin and Kelly are on screen for, like, maybe half of that. And when they’re on screen, they make Dermot Mulroney look like he comes with free shipping (cardboard box joke ba dum tsss).

Seriously. These two are great singers. But they are terrible actors. This comes as no surprise, obviously, but it’s actually stunning how awful they are. Justin, to his credit, looks like he’s actually trying – maybe it’s because he feared he’d have to turn to acting after losing on American Idol. Kelly, on the other hand, looks as disinterested as a toad in a pond. My God, could she at least try? There are children watching!

I talked a lot on this blog about chemistry. Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant had chemistry. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal had chemistry. Justin and Kelly are two trees, slowly collapsing. I could put googly eyes on a bucket of paint and marry it and there would be more chemistry.

Again, not surprised. The expectations for this couldn’t possibly have been lower.

Final, final thoughts

Justin isn’t doing too bad: Justin suffers from the Tom Anderson syndrome – namely, he’s known for being second fiddle in his arena and has bowed out of the public spotlight. Therefore, people view him as a failure. Well, Tom Anderson isn’t a failure – he sold MySpace and is worth $60 million, so fuck you – and neither is Justin. He’s currently worth $500,000 which isn’t titanic but definitely more than you make.

That being said, he’s significantly behind fellow second-place finishers. Predictably, Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiclay-aikenken is worth more. Clay clocks in at $6 million. Season 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo has $1.5 million, Bo Bice has $1.5 million, Katharine McPhee has $6 million, Blake Lewis is at $1.2 million, David Archuleta is at $5 million…these people fall out of the spotlight and you mock them, but they’re laughing their way to the bank. Poor Justin, though. He’s now known to me as the least successful loser.

More about money: Impossibly, this movie cost $12 million to make. I’m sure a significant portion of that went to the leads. In a stroke of justice, it only made $4.9 million. Hallelujah.

Kelly Clarkson hates this movie more than Robert Pattinson hates Twilight: Kelly knows she was young and acted in this on impulse. It wasn’t her fault she was a budding star who wanted every opportunity to shine, right?

WRONG. In a twist, Kelly was mortified at having to act in this at all. In an interview, she revealed that she “cried for a solid hour on the phone with the creator of American Idol and pleaded to be let out of the contract that said I had to film From Justin to Kelly.” Oh, poor Kelly. No word on how Justin felt.

I AM DONE WITH THE ROMCOM CHALLENGE: 

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Here is where I sign off and take my leave. It’s been a wild ride. After 31 movies, more than 30,000 words, and spending more than three days of my life watching these movies, it is finally over.

What have I learned? I’ve learned that I don’t particularly like romantic comedies, though some are quite excellent. I’ve learned that a movie with heart is just as enjoyable as a movie with explosions. I’ve learned that bad movies can bring out the best in you as a writer, and I’ve learned that I am not a movie reviewer. But maybe I’ll get there, someday.

If I annoyed you, I’m sorry. If you enjoyed the ride, thank you for reading. If you’re as happy as I am that it’s over, well, you’re welcome. And for those of you interested: I lost zero Facebook friends during the Challenge. I actually gained two. I’m as stunned as you are.

And finally, as my friend Dylan so eloquently stated when I told him I was watching From Justin to Kelly: “I suppose it’s fitting for you to finish this dumb idea with horrible execution with a dumb idea with horrible execution.”

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