The Emmy category for reality shows has existed for seven years, and The Amazing Race has won it every year. This annual win always makes me happy, primarily because I enjoy any quantifiable result that punishes American Idol, a show which is not only terrible, but often can't even get off the air on time. I've been involved with my producing my share of televised garbage in the past, but at least our garbage ended when it was supposed to.
And yet, my utter contempt of how American Idol has made a (further) mockery of popular music is at odds with the one exception to the rule of awful: Kelly Clarkson. But why focus on Kelly's high points, when instead I can look back fondly on another American Idol-based debacle?
With that in mind, I decided to finally watch the 2003 film From Justin to Kelly. As you can guess, I would immediately regret this decision. Consider this an official Bad Idea Film Review.
Kelly Clarkson is traveling with her two friends (who I will name Blond girl and Black girl) to Florida for spring break. Justin (AKA Big Haircut) has two friends as well, and the three of them have a business throwing parties? On the beach? On spring break? Of course! This makes perfect sense. How else would bars attract kids during spring break, if not by paying three college idiots to be their "promoters"? This is the first time we will meet Justin’s crew, and the scripted exposition makes it crystal clear how tight this threesome is.
How are these three people friends with each other? The nerd is just now telling his friends about this girl he met online? That topic never came up on the WAY to Florida? He clearly doesn’t like the beach, or even seem to enjoy being outdoors for that matter! And the only "contest" that Open shirt McGee should be judging is the "Which solo cup contains the roofie?" contest. I do enjoy how they make a note of telling the viewer that Big Haircut is a ladies man, because none of his actions throughout the rest of the movie would indicate this.
But we don’t have time for character development here! We need to break out the music! The first song takes place literally six minutes into the movie. You don’t need to see all of this; I think the dance balls/skating clip sums it all up.
What do you mean you're out of dance balls? How am I supposed to dance without a dance ball? I might as well just stand near the skate ramp like an asshole!
So Kelly and Big Haircut dance with each other for about 15 seconds, never speaking a word to one another. Naturally, by THE NEXT SCENE, Haircut tells Frat guy, (and I quote,) “This girl is special, man. I’m gonna find her.” Professional screenwriting, ladies and gentlemen!
And find her he does! Haircut is trying to avoid the mob of women who are literally chasing him for wristbands to compete in the aforementioned whipped cream bikini contest. Anyone who’s ever been in a similar situation can relate – when women think there’s the slightest chance that a bikini contest might go off without them having a chance to enter, those bitches be wildin', son! As Kelly and Haircut bond in the women's bathroom, the chemistry between these two non-actors who have memorized lines is intoxicating! (Also, stay tuned to see people watch a guy tap dance at the end of the clip.)
Who knew that a window IN PLAIN VIEW qualifies as a “secret exit” in a bathroom. THANKS FOR THAT SECRET EXIT THAT WILL EMPTY MY CLUMSY ASS RIGHT BACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BIKINI-CRAZED MOB, KELLY CLARKSON! And how about the scientific properties of paper towel that cause it to immediately sink like a stone when coming in contact with the shallowest amount of water. Oh well, that paper towel is soaked, so I suppose they’ll never find each other again. Have fun dying alone, Haircut and Kelly!
Did I point out the dudes tap dancing for the crowd?
Spring Break! Bojangles style!
After the bathroom fiasco, Haircut runs into Kelly’s friend Blond girl. He asks Blond girl for Kelly’s phone number, but Blond girl instead gives Haircut her (Blond girl's) number instead. This begins a sequence of text messaging where Haircut thinks he’s texting Kelly, but is actually texting Blond girl, who inexplicably is sabotaging Kelly, AKA HER BEST FRIEND WHO SHE DROVE TO SPRING BREAK WITH. Again, how are these people friends? Blond girl is a total bitch, and there’s no reason at all given for such behavior. It’s honestly baffling to me that someone wrote this. Then again, based on how he sends text messages, Haircut may be retarded.
Who knew that the kids today needed to further abbreviate words like "take." "MAYBE YOU HAVE TIME TO SPELL OUT FOUR-LETTER WORDS, OLD MAN, BUT NOT ME! I'VE GT PLCS 2 G!"
While Kelly voices her frustration that she hasn't gotten a call from Haircut, the girls run into the guys again at the aforementioned whipped cream bikini contest. We know that the contest is crazy because they seem to be stocked with at least HALF A DOZEN cans of whipped cream. Kelly is shocked - SHOCKED! - that a guy who seemed so gentlemanly and debonair during their meaningful bathroom connection could be so chauvenistic as to host this parade of decadance and sodomy. So she grabs a can of whipped cream and blasts Haircut with a facial. Miss Independant has spoken!
After that happy ending, you'd think Kelly would be done for good with Haircut and his tomcatting ways. But instead she accepts a boat ride date in the following scene. (Also, neither of them bring up the texting confusion. I'm sure that problem will just go away!) The boat date scene is probably my favorite part of the whole film, as we reach an emotional high point, where the star-crossed vacationers belt out a heartfelt power ballad while NEVER LOOKING AT EACH OTHER.
Get a room you two! And once you check in to that room, you can each pick opposite walls to stare at!
But once again, Kelly and Haircut have future plans sabotaged by Blond girl's ongoing battle of supreme bitchiness through texting. And YET AGAIN Kelly and Haircut randomly run into each other at a terrible party. and YET AGAIN neither of them bring up the case of the missing texts. They've got other things to deal with. Things such as Haircut and some dude who decided to "fight" over Kelly. Let me just say that in a screenplay full of terrible cliches, I did not see this method of battle coming:
That looks like the best Survivor challenge ever! I bet the prop master got a great deals by buying the "fight balls" at the same time as the "dance balls."
So Haircut wins the battle (winning=not drowning, apparently). But unfortunately for him (and for us) nobody drives a hoverboat over Blond girl's bitchy face, so she adds another chapter to her best-selling memoir of how to ruin her best friend's spring break. Blond girl cements her place in hell by putting the moves on Haircut while a distraught Kelly observes from afar, leading to a classic confrontation.
Literally within 7 minutes of this scene, Blond girl admits her transgressions, Kelly and Haircut get back together, and the cast dances to KC and the Sunshine Band. Perfect.
What's truly amazing about this film is that it only runs 81 minutes from first frame to last, but actually could have been edited to half that time by removing the ridiculous amount of filler within. Kelly's friend Black girl has an up and down relationship with an ethnic dishwasher. Haircut's nerd friend has a subplot where he gets sunburned looking for his online girl ("Where are you, Claudia93?"). And the frat boy spends the movie freestyle rapping and racking up fines from one of them "beach lady cops," who of course reappears toward the end of the film to fuck him. (It's a PG film, but we can read between the lines.)
From Justin to Kelly currently ranks #21 on the IMDB bottom 100. But in my heart, it's hard not to put it at #1 with a bullet. A bullet to the back of my brain.