Making the Grades
As if the fanfare for American Idol wasn't enough, winning contestant Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini are capitalizing on their instant stardom by moving onto the big screen in a feature film entitled (very creatively) From Justin To Kelly.
Also not so surprisingly, the movie is a musical. Kelly sets the stage with her heartfelt serenade echoing in an almost empty bar, until best friends Alexa (Katherine Bailess) and Kaya (Anika Noni Rose) beg her to come with them on their spring break vacation to Miami. Apparently it's her wheels and not her party-pooper reputation that inspires the invitation from the grounded-but -still-looking-for-fun chums.
Stripping down to beachwear, the girls join the rest of the bikini-clad extras in the sand and surf, looking for the thrill of a spring fling. Here they meet Justin and his two buddies, the beefy Brandon (Greg Siff) and Internet nerd Eddie (Brian Dietzen), who plan parties for the tourist crowd to supplement their college expenses. With chicks and cash their major interests, it's an employment opportunity with all the right occupational hazards.
But from the moment Justin locks eyes on Kelly, his playboy desires begin to change. His friends notice it right away. So do Kelly's. On their second "meet-cute" encounter, they even tell each other. And it is a good thing they do, because there is certainly no on-screen chemistry to give that away to the audience.
Of course if the playing field were without any immediate obstacles, there would be no reason to sit through the rest of this rather painful theatrical experience. Nor would there be any opportunity for the two singers to showcase their vocal cords. That leaves Alexa with the part of "interfering bad girl." For reasons that can never be completely believed, the blonde bombshell can't stand the idea of her friend finding some serious romance, although she doesn't feel the same need to hinder Kaya's relationship with the handsome busboy Carlos (Jason Yribar).
So the slow story melodically works its way to the inevitable conclusion. And so might Justin and Kelly's careers, unless they are lucky enough to become the next Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. For those too young to remember them (as most of this film's demographic will be), they were the stars of several campy beach movies during the 1960's in which Annette also suffered from several bad cases of song-stroke.
From Justin to Kelly falls somewhere between that sixty's duo and this year's reality spring break romp, The Real Cancun. Like Frankie and Annette, these characters do a lot of sexual prattling, without much onscreen action. But the passage of time will find the babes and beaus acting as window dressing becoming more skimpily attired (including only whipped cream in one scene), and innuendo straying into areas that weren't considered laughing matters forty years ago. Meanwhile, the music-hopefuls' script touts all the drinking, partying, and sex-without-commitment ethics of the aforementioned R-rated Mexican extravaganza.
The real Justin and Kelly's Cinderella story rides on the backs of the many young viewers who adore the television series that gave them their chance at fame. Yet their powerful voices sell a tale full of females volunteering to be sex objects for young men who espouse a "date 'em and leave 'em" philosophy. Thus, parents may wish to be cautious about their children worshipping these American Idols.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about From Justin to Kelly.
What differences in body shape do you notice between Kelly Clarkson and her two female co-stars? Why do you think these three were put together? How does the costume department dress these girls?
Justin is also paired with the usually bare-chested Brandon (Greg Siff). Why? How is the nerdy Eddie (Brian Dietzen) dressed? What message is being sent to the audience by having Eddie’s character as the only one looking for a lasting relationship?