"From Justin to Kelly" - Movie Review
- Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Rating: PG (for brief language and clothing)
Release Date: June 20, 2003
Actors: Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Katherine Bailess, Anika Noni Rose, Greg Siff
Director: Robert Iscove
Special Notes: Clarkson and Guarini were the top two winners from TV's first season of "American Idol" and have each recorded their own albums.
Plot: When spring break arrives, an aspiring singer Kelly Taylor (Clarkson) decides to go with her friends Kaya (Rose) and Alexa (Bailess) on a trip to Miami for spring break. It's there that they meet two promoters, Justin Bell (Guarini) and Brandon (Siff) who have a company that arranges several events to make money … and attract the beautiful girls they hope to meet. When Justin and Kelly lock eyes, they instantly fall in like with each other and try to follow their hearts. Unfortunately, Alexa tries to sabotage the budding romance and make Justin fall for her. In the end, Kaya starts seeing a local waiter Carlos (Yribar), Brandon gets busted for his parties and Justin and Kelly finally end up together.
Good: My expectations going into this movie were minimal. I knew it would be the bubblegum equivalent of one of those old beach party movies from the '60s. But what I didn't expect was how much I would actually enjoy it (once I got past the silly dialogue and weak acting). The musical numbers and dancing made it entertaining. But perhaps the best part for me was watching the young preteen girls sitting around me. They giggled and squealed with delight when Justin began to sing each song to Kelly. As adults, it's easy to forget how the simple things of life were big deals when we were adolescents watching them on the big screen. I chuckled at how most of the girls (ages 15 and under) in my screening seemed to hang on every note Justin sang and covered their eyes when the two stars had their kissing scene. That made the movie memorable for me and was a quick reminder of the market studios are targeting when they make movies like this. Although this movie is relatively tame compared to the "Spring Break Girls Gone Wild" video commercials that kids can see every day on TV, the story still perpetuates the legacy of college kids going to Miami to "go wild" and have fun over spring break. The difference with this story is that it tries to calm down the emphasis on the adult behavior and sex that seems to take place during that wild week and instead, focus more on the "boys go after the girls, girls flirt with the boys" theme.
Bad: Alexa's behavior is so conniving and mean (trying to sabotage the budding romance between Justin and Kelly to keep her best friend from getting the good-looking guy). I thought Kelly let her off the hook way to easily compared to what Alexa should have been confronted with in real life. In fact, her character's behavior is what mothers should have a serious discussion with their daughters about. It was truly the epitome of what young women think they have to do these days to get a guy, and it's all based on sexual appeal and outward beauty. I like the fact that the movie does make the point that the real appeal and attraction of Kelly to Justin is her "inward" beauty. Crude language includes "shut up", "hell" and one use each of "for the love of God" as an exclamation. This is a story that takes place on the beaches of Miami during spring break, so there's an abundance of flesh (both male and female) on display. Lots of skimpy bikinis, cleavage-revealing tops and a whipped cream bikini contest (where the whipped cream is "strategically" placed on several female participants). There are a couple of dance numbers where it's not quite "dirty dancing," but is definitely steamy. Lots of innuendoes or comments are made by several of the guys and there's one brief but passionate kiss between Kelly and Justin -- but no sexual situation takes place.
Bottom Line: This isn't a musical that's as "hip" as "Grease" or as "cool" as the old beach party movies from the '60s but then again, this isn't your typical musical. This movie is really a perfect example of a new era of Hollywood capitalism and a brilliant marketing strategy: take two unknown contestants who try out for a singing contest, win the top two titles, get singing contracts and then give them a movie deal and make money off of the fans of the show. The pied piper of Hollywood does indeed know how to lure this younger generation.
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