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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 20, 2003

Kelly and Justin party at beach with music, easygoing storyline

By Ed Bark
Dallas Morning News

Amid fellow celebrants, Kelly (Kelly Clarkson) and Justin (Justin Guarini) enjoy their beach-centered musical fling.

20th Century Fox

'From Justin to Kelly'

PG, vulgar language, sexuality

81 minutes

Annette and Frankie they aren't. And that's a good thing.

"From Justin to Kelly," the post-"American Idol" concoction starring Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, is 40 years removed from the similarly contrived "Beach Party" films with former Mouse-keteer Annette Funicello and teen heartthrob Frankie Avalon.

It's also about 40 times better, which isn't a glowing recommendation. Re-watching "Beach Party" turns out to be worse than a third-degree sunburn, particularly when Annette sings "Treat Him Nicely" while gazing at her mirror image. That film also is rife with icky grownups. Didn't Robert Cummings, Dorothy Malone, Morey Amsterdam and Harvey Lembeck have any other options?

"From Justin to Kelly" — boys meet girls on spring break in Miami — works 12 listenable tunes into its connect-the-dots plot. Grownups aren't a factor, leaving ample time for Clarkson and Guarini to earn a few credits toward their junior thespian degrees under the capable direction of Robert Iscove ("She's All That" and ABC's Emmy-nominated remake of "Cinderella").

Clarkson, pride of Burleson, Texas, is first seen singing in a dive Texas bar. Her level-headed character, Kelly Taylor, quickly joins best pals Alexa (Katherine Bailess) and Kaya (Anika Noni Rose) on a fun 'n' sun trip to the beach. Meanwhile, Justin Bell (Guarini) also is good to go with a Pennsylvania Posse that includes con artist Brandon (Greg Siff) and nerdy Eddie (Brian Dietzen).

It's only a matter of time — perhaps 10 minutes — before Kelly and Justin lock eyes on the beach. But sexy Alexa's Alexis-style foul play keeps their lips at bay until the film's homestretch. "Anytime you need love, baby, I'm on your side," Justin finally sings to Texas' No. 1 Kelly girl. Backatcha, Curly.

Rated PG and actually tamer than that, the film's frequent musical breaks might leave lots of teenage boys wondering how their girlfriends got them into this instead of "The Hulk." "From Justin to Kelly" is hardly "West Side Story," but it could be considered a cousin twice removed. Gotta sing, gotta dance — most winningly in an energetic opening production number called "The Bounce."

It's all smoothly packaged and presented by 19 Entertainment, the Britain-based company that brought "American Idol" to these shores and remains firmly in charge of the Kelly/Justin starships. Their first movie together is a better-than-expected diversion that likely won't leave anyone feeling cheap or cheated.

No harm, no foul — and a true cinematic giant compared with "Beach Party."