13 Things I Questioned When I Rewatched 'From Justin to Kelly'
Some things you just never forget. Like the first embarrassing haircut you got in middle school, when crochet bikinis and bucket hats were a thing, or the iconic piece of cinema that is From Justin to Kelly, the American Idol movie that Season 1 winner, Kelly Clarkson, and runner-up, Justin Guarini, were contractually obligated to participate in once the show's first season wrapped. Directed by Robert Iscove (She's All That) and written by Kim Fuller (American Idol creator Simon Fuller's brother), the movie hit theaters in the summer of 2003 and won a Razzie Award for Distinguished Under-Achievement in Choreography the following year.
If you've never had the pleasure of watching this gem of a movie musical, here's a quick synopsis: The film's title characters hit the beach in Miami with their respective friend groups for some ~ fun in the sun ~ on spring break. They're almost immediately attracted to each other when their paths first cross and, well, you know how that goes. But their would-be relationship is almost ruined thanks to Kelly's meddling friend who tries her hardest to keep the lovebirds apart for the remainder of their trip solely for entertainment purposes. There's singing, there's dancing, there's Justin Guarini's luscious head of hair, and there's a misunderstanding that easily could've been solved in under five minutes.
I did the work that God put me on this earth to do and rewatched the movie for the first time since it was in theaters -- and I had some thoughts. In honor of From Justin to Kelly's uncelebrated 15th anniversary this past June, I'd like to talk about all of the things I questioned during my rewatch.
When they only invited Kelly because they needed her to drive
Why are we ignoring the fact that Kaya (Anika Noni Rose) and Alexa (Kat Bailess) only invited Kelly (Kelly Clarkson) on their spring break trip to Miami because they needed her to drive them there? Also, why did Kelly fall for that so easily?
When the girls were left completely unfazed by their day-long road trip
It still amazes me that Kelly, Kaya, and Alexa pulled up to the beach in a bright yellow convertible after what was probably an 18-hour+ drive from Texas to Miami and still had the energy to dance around with towels and balloons in the sand. And speaking of balloons...
When they danced with balloons as props
The choreography in this film is quite ridiculous in itself, and a hefty portion of that ridiculousness is seen in the film's opening number, which features a section that sees Justin (Justin Guarini), Kelly, and their fellow beachgoers dancing with balloons. Sure, balloons can be found at almost any event that calls for some kind of celebration...but how did they end up on the beach? And why was everyone's first instinct to pick them up and dance with them? Most importantly, who got rid of them all?
Justin's shorthand text messages
On the texting front, I'm giving this movie a small pass simply because it was released in 2003, and cell phones have come a loooong way since then. I didn't get my first cell phone until a few years after this movie was released, but I'm still a little embarrassed to know that people actually used to communicate in shorthand that's this easy to misinterpret.
Everything about Alexa's role in this story
I have so many questions about Alexa's overall purpose in this film, the first one pertaining to why Kaya and Kelly are even friends with her? It seems like they spend most of the movie hurling slut-shamey insults at her, and they even allude to her not being girlfriend material in comparison to Kelly at one point. On the other hand, when it comes to who among these people are actually being decent friends, Alexa doesn't get a gold star either since she pretty much started all of this by trying to steal her best friend's love interest. Obviously her role here is pretty important since she's the villain here, but there had to be a better way for the writers to have worked her into the storyline, right?
Speaking of Alexa...
...what was her end game for all of this? She encourages Kelly to try and pursue Justin in the beginning of the movie, but as soon as Justin begins to show interest in her, she manages to almost ruin their relationship even though she didn't even like him or want him for herself to begin with. Obviously her conniving ways were going to be exposed sooner or later, so did she expect for her and Kelly to go back home and forget that all of this ever happened? I need answers!
Kaya's 'favorite outfit'
Right before Kaya first makes contact with her spring break love interest (Carlos, played by Jason Yribar), she spills a drink on herself and ruins what she refers to as her favorite outfit. This all makes sense until you realize that the favorite outfit she's talking about is...a bikini. Of the three leading ladies in this movie, Kaya seems to be the most fashionable, so am I really just supposed to believe that her most beloved item of clothing is a bright orange bikini?
Kaya and Carlos' relationship as a whole
A lesson: It's not always a good idea to barge into your boyfriend's -- whom you've known for all of five minutes -- restaurant job and mouth off to his boss about how overworked and underpaid he is. Especially when your bold move leaves him jobless. But, you know, what's a rom-com without a subplot about class differences?
Why 'Timeless' was overlooked as an iconic bop
I, too, fancy any first date that includes a boat, matching white track suits, and minimal eye contact. But what matters more than any of that is "Timeless," the ballad that didn't get the amount of credit it deserved. It's no "Anytime," -- which, let's be honest, wasn't even all that bad -- but it was definitely one more reason why I would've preferred to have listened to more Justin and Kelly duets in this movie than, say, 30 seconds of Brandon (Greg Siff) rapping about how his nerdy friend can pick up girls.
Another reason why I would've preferred more Justin and Kelly duets than anything else.
Why this didn't end earlier
When you really think about it, the drama between Justin and Kelly really could have been resolved after their first date. If the two of them would've stopped speaking to each other so vaguely -- and if Justin just admitted to Kelly that he lost her number -- they could've easily concluded that all of this was a misunderstanding. But I guess the powers that be over at Fox didn't think what was likely to have followed that would make for a good story...so here we are.
Luke's presence as a whole
...really, why is he here? And speaking of Luke...
Whoever came up with the idea to fight with laundry baskets
Of all the ways that Luke (Christopher Bryan) and Justin could have settled the score, we really chose a game that involved throwing balls into laundry baskets via hovercraft? Also, did Kelly not realize that she had a say in all of this? She clearly didn't want to date Luke (as we learned at the top of the movie), and she was a little iffy on whether or not she still wanted to give Justin a chance, so what exactly was the prize here?
2003 was a very bizarre year.