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By Doug Brunell | September 30, 2003

I will admit it here: I watch “American Idol.” Yeah, don’t act above me. You do it, too. I only watch it, though, to witness Simon tear some talentless hack a new fuckhole. His verbal slaughter techniques give me the same kind of joy I got when I heard Strom Thurmond died.

I did not see From Justin to Kelly.

I’ve never been a fan of Justin Guarini, though he’s from the same town where I was born. Kelly Clarkson’s music isn’t my cup of tea, either, but at least she’s easy on the eyes. Had From Justin to Kelly been a porno film, I would have been first in line, and I think it would’ve been the biggest grossing adult feature since “Deep Throat.” Instead of going that route, however, the film looked like a lame musical that desperately wanted to reclaim the sugar-sweet magic of the old beach blanket movies. Why bother?

I’m sure the movie was something that was worked into Justin and Kelly’s contracts. Being young and relative newcomers to the cannibalistic world of entertainment, these two darlings of American media probably thought it was the right thing to do. I’m also sure that some producer at some point said, “How could it fail?” Well, it did.

When the movie came out, it didn’t even appear on the radar. It made my local news entertainment segment only because it did so poorly at the box office. The newscaster reported its opening grosses (something a pubic hair above three million, if I remember correctly) with a knowing smile. My local news team is filled with morons, but even they knew the film was a piece of crap.

“American Idol” fans are brimming with white middle-class anger as they read this. “How can he judge a movie he hasn’t even seen?” they’ll ask each other over drinks at T.G.I. Friday’s. The answer is simple: I’m not an idiot.

The second I heard these two poster children for manufactured stardom were going to appear together in a movie, I knew it would be a colossal failure. When I saw the first clips of it on “American Idol,” I could only laugh. I think Paula Abdul was even embarrassed by it, and if she’s feeling uneasy … well, you are f****d. When the first trailers appeared, and I saw that nothing had changed, I knew fans of the show would not turn out in numbers to see this exercise in terror. Hell, most of them would rather see Clay Aiken naked. There is a way this could’ve been a film worth seeing, however.

Kelly really needed to do a full-blown, French-style sex scene. Better yet, since American studios are hell-bent on remaking foreign movies, Justin and Kelly should’ve starred in a remake of Irreversible. Kelly’s no Monica Bellucci, but I bet she’d look good in that dress. And just think of the controversy.

I’m sure Kelly and Justin are fairly tired of people not taking them seriously because a Fox audience picked them to be stars. Anyone who wasn’t brain damaged upon hearing that Bush Jr. was our new president knows that Americans, as a group, have lousy tastes. Remember Jean-Claude Van Damme? We paid good money to see his movies! Yes, Kelly and Justin are talented, but they weren’t really able to make it on their own, so it’s understandable that people would question their abilities. Starring in a movie like From Justin to Kelly doesn’t help.

Being taken seriously as musicians is going to take a lot of work, but Kelly may be able to pull it off. She’s got clout now. Justin is working toward that. Getting taken seriously as actors is going to be a lot harder. They need to take challenging roles that not only push the limits of what they’ve done, they also need to push the limits of what the audience has come to expect from them. If they don’t, From Justin to Kelly is destined to be a Trivial Pursuit question.

Kelly is nice enough, but my greatest fear is that ten years from now, when her career is about as hot as Joyce DeWitt’s, she’ll appear in Playboy in order to show America that she’s all “grown up” and “not the little girl y’all remember.” “Entertainment Tonight” will cover it (complete with a “Where Are They Now?” weekend segment), and Playboy will milk her for all she’s worth. Sadly enough, I’ll buy that issue before I ever see her damn movie.

As for Justin’s whereabouts in ten years … it doesn’t look pretty. If you want to find him, though, my guess is that you’ll have to go to Disney World and take in one of the park’s famous parades. When you see Donald strutting his stuff, perhaps with a look of regret and nostalgia behind one of those creepy eye screens, you’ll have a good idea of who is under the suit.

Kelly and Justin need to remember these two words in order to save their careers: Corey Haim. If they don’t, destiny will be most unkind.

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