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From Justin to Kelly (2003)::rating::5::rating::5

[su_dropcap size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap] know what you’re going to say before you even say it, so let me gently put my fingers to your mouth and whisper:  “Shhhh.  There, there, my sweet child.  Just let me explain.”  Yes, From Justin to Kelly bombed on first release.  The critics savaged it.  Theater seats went empty.  Well, you don’t judge Château Haut-Brion fresh off the vine, do you?  It takes years–sometimes decades–for something so beautiful to truly blossom into full magnificence. You’re right to have doubts.  I’ve had them, too.  But let’s go back and take a look at From Justin to Kelly with new eyes.

First things first.  We need to hop in our DeLoreans and travel to a different time.  It’s now 2003.  Nelly captures the zeitgeist with one simple question:  “You ain’t from Russia.  So, bitch, why you rushin’?”  American Idol rockets to the top of the Nielsen ratings.  Kelly Clarkson battles for the top prize with Justin Guarini.  They finish first and second, respectively, setting off a firestorm of debate.  Meanwhile, the executives at Fox immediately plan to put both singers in theaters nationwide.

Now that our backdrop is in place, let’s talk about this beach blanket masterpiece. The story occurs during one fateful spring break.  Horny teens descend on Lauderdale, hoping to drown in bottomless margs and nab some strange without getting herpes on their no-no parts.  Kelly Clarkson (played, through wickedly clever screenwriting, by the actual Kelly Clarkson) pulls up with her chicas.  Her clique might be a smidge immature, but Miss Independent–she’s holding out for something more.  Something special.

Enter Justin Guari Guanari Whatever.  He and his crew of ragamuffin frat boys stroll onto the scene, ready to pour whipped cream onto girls’ titties and ride their jet skis like a buncha all-around badasses.  Naturally, our fated couple trade barbed banter like Hepburn and Tracy.  They just can’t seem to get along!  There’s…so much goddamn sexual tension in the air!  I mean, could they?  Will they??

Yeah, I’ve heard the criticisms, and I want you to imagine Chris Farley’s air quotes around everyone of them:   The lead couple “doesn’t have an ounce of chemistry.”  The songs are “bland to the point of being offensive.”  The choreography looks like “it was put together by your neighbor’s grandma.”  Oh, and all the characters “annoyingly leave all the vowels out of their text messages.”  Lk tht mttrs!  Srsly!

Great art will only gain esteem over time.  Van Gogh wasn’t truly appreciated until he was long gone.  The same goes for Hootie and the Blowfish.  Likewise, the day will come when From Justin to Kelly will be so much more than a bunch of 30-year-olds dancing incoherently inside a food court.  For you, that day could be today.  Let this movie in.  Let the magic surround you.  Then you’ll see what I mean. 

81 minutes of awesome.  PG.



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