“From Justin to Kelly” is a somewhat unique member of the IMDb Bottom 100. It has been hovering at the bottom of the list for some time, and has held the top spot on a few occasions, but it isn’t quite what I typically expect from the list. The production values are good, it isn’t a parody movie, and Paris Hilton is nowhere to be seen. All of that said, this is a movie that deserves a slot in the Bottom 100, without any doubt.
As with many films, you can’t truly appreciate “From Justin to Kelly” without knowing a little bit of the story behind the scenes. In fact, this is a movie that doesn’t make any sense at all without context. Eponymous stars Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson were the finalists on the first season of the television singing competition “American Idol”. “From Justin To Kelly” was apparently an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the show in a different medium. Unfortunately, neither Justin nor Kelly had any meaningful acting experience, which should have sent a red flag up on the project from the start. The movie attempted to bank on their singing talents rather than their acting, and this relied on choreography and musical numbers to make up for the lack of a acting ability, sensible plot, or decent dialogue. This tactic, as you might imagine, did not work well.
A good number of movies on the IMDb Bottom 100 at least have a workable concept behind them, but are ultimately executed poorly. “From Justin to Kelly” has an inverse issue: the concept is unworkable (make a movie around two non-actors), and a lot of (more or less) competent people were brought in to try to make it work. So, the result is a movie that looks fine on the outside, but doesn’t have a foundation beneath it.
While the choreography and directing are done by veterans (though still pretty badly), the job of writing “From Justin to Kelly” was clearly not given the same amount of thought. All that was needed from the film was music and a serviceable trailer from a financial point of view, so why would anyone stress the script? It seems like everyone knew that they were dealing with non-actor leads anyway, so a good writing job would just be wasted on the flick. The writing was tasked to Kim Fuller, who has had a career in television, but is best known for penning another notable musical train wreck (and IMDb Bottom 100 alumnus), “Spice World.” That tells you all you need to know about how the horrendous writing of “From Justin to Kelly” came to be. The dialogue is stilted, the characters are entirely unbelievable, and the plot is a jumbled mess: all because no one particular cared to make it better.
“From Justin to Kelly” feels like the manufactured product that it is, which makes it an incredibly off-putting viewing experience. Most movies, including bad ones, are made in the honest attempt to create something good. “From Justin to Kelly” has more in common with Z-grade exploitation films than it does any of the other Bottom 100 features, because it was made without any desire for quality or artistic value. Even more so than the many contrived blockbusters out there, this is a soulless movie. Blockbusters at least, on some level, aim to entertain an audience. “From Justin to Kelly” was not made to even entertain: it was made to profit. Luckily, it failed miserably in this regard, and is remembered as one of the most universally loathed movies of the decade.
There isn’t a whole lot of entertainment value to extract from this film. The characters are so inconsistent, unbelievable, and unlikable that there is at least somewhat of an awe factor involved in watching their stories unfold, though. In particular, one of Kelly’s cohorts is almost certainly the most inexplicably conniving villain that I have ever seen in a movie. Still, the vapid plot and tortuous, twisting love story between Justin and Kelly is immensely tiring. Not only can they not act, but their characters are written to be dumb as rocks, and are constantly manipulated into fighting each other. Their ineptitude is amusing for a while, but it gets old very fast. The fashion is pretty laughable as well, particularly the skirt made of ties, but none of it is enough to make it worth sitting through the movie.
So, I do not recommend watching “From Justin to Kelly.” Unless, of course, you want to watch a poorly-written, abysmally-acted, inexplicably PG spring break movie with a bunch of early 2000s pop music threaded throughout. And, hopefully, no one does.