From Justin to Kelly
From Justin to Kelly is a 2003 American musical romantic comedy directed by Robert Iscove based on the first season of reality TV show American Idols winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini. According to Clarkson herself, the film was only made because the show's producers were thinking of ways to expand the show's massive success and decided to make a film with the show's winner and runner-up (the only time they have done so). So, both Kelly and Justin were both stuck on a contract requiring them to do this film.
The film is known for being heavily panned by both critics and audiences alike and even going to the point that the film's soundtrack was never even released on its own. The film is considered by some to be one of the worst films ever made.
The film is set during spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Texan singing waitress Kelly Taylor (get it, because Kelly Clarkson is from Texas) meets Pennsylvanian college student Justin Bell (get it, Justin Guarini is from Pennsylvania), and they fall for each other, and various romantic complications ensue. Kelly's friend Kaya falls in love with charming busboy Carlos; Kelly's other friend, Alexa, schemes to keep Justin and Kelly from meeting; Justin's friend Brandon is always getting on the wrong side of a sexy beach patrolwoman; and Justin's other friend, Eddie, tries to hook up with a cyber-pal.
Why It Sucks
- The film has no other reason to be made other than expanding on American Idol's success.
- Inconsistent characterization, with Kelly suddenly acting like a feminist one moment (like the scene where she resents Justin for his contest of putting cream on a woman's breast), and the next she instantly forgives Justin.
- What little of a plot there is advanced by making the characters make idiotic decisions. To name one is when Justin's message for Kelly's phone number is messed up, he goes to Kelly's friend Alexa, who is planning to tear their relationship apart, instead of going back to Kelly and asking for it again.
- The film is padded out with boring subplots that have nothing to do with the film's main story and are tied up in the end in the most predictable way possible.
- Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini have no romantic chemistry.
- The film is remarkably dated to 2003, where one of the subplots involves Justin's friend Eddie trying to find a date through the internet, which the joke was dated even at the time when the film was made.
- Forgettable and bland original music.
- 20th Century Fox had little confidence in the film, but still released it anyways.
- Even Kelly Clarkson herself disliked this movie and told American Idol creator that she wanted to get out of the film.
- Kelly Clarkson was able to move on after this film and still became one of America's biggest pop stars (having hits like "Breakaway", Since U Have Been Gone, Because of You and Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) to name a few) and wiped the slate clean by starring as the main character in UglyDolls; Justin Guarini wasn't so lucky.
- It was the debut of star Anika Noni Rose playing Kelly's friend Kaya, who would become better known for her roles as Naomi in 2006's Dreamgirls and as the voice of Princess Tiana in Disney's The Princess and the Frog.
- While their acting isn't anything to brag about, Kelly and Justin (and to a lesser degree, the rest of the cast) give good musical performances, with "Timeless" and "Everytime" later being used by the pair on their debut albums ("Timeless" for Justin and "Everytime" for Kelly).
The film has a 10% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 63 reviews with an average rating of 2.7/10. The consensus states: "A notorious stinker, From Justin to Kelly features banal songs, a witless plot, and non-existent chemistry between its American Idol-sanctioned leads." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 14 out of 100 based on 16 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
On its opening weekend, From Justin to Kelly grossed $2,715,848 domestically in 2,001 theaters, ranking #11 at the box office. By the end of its run on July 24, 2003, the film had grossed $4,928,883 in the domestic box office. Based on a $12 million budget, the film was a box office bomb.
Many theaters threatened not to screen the film at all when distributor 20th Century Fox announced plans to rush it to VHS and DVD a mere six weeks after its opening weekend, but Fox ultimately relented and pushed the release date back a number of months. After underperforming its first weekend, Fox reinstated the original release schedule and the film was released via VHS and DVD on August 26, 2003.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, but lost to Gigli. However, it did manage to win Worst Musical in our First 25 Years special award in 2005.