The Fantasticks movie is still the worst musical film of the decade, but this one is a close second. Unfocused almost to the point of plotlessness, it’s basically two hours of absolutely nothing. The script is garbage: the dialogue is hopelessly hokey, the character motivations make no sense, and all the attempts at humor are embarrassingly lame.
The score is even worse. Given what they generally offer their winners as ‘inaugural’ singles, one doesn’t expect songwriting excellence from the producers of American Idol, but the songs here make those singles look like Beethoven, with their droning, unmemorable melodies and skin-crawlingly cheesy arrangements.
Judging by her role on the sitcom Reba, Kelly Clarkson can at least act a little under the right circumstances, but she didn’t want to do this movie, and she makes absolutely no effort to hide the fact that she’d rather be anywhere else. The result is one of the most unappealing performances of all time, sour and utterly uninvolved.
Her co-star Justin Guarini has no acting ability whatsoever, and the film’s supporting cast sounds like they got a bunch of random people off the street and just put them in front of a camera and told them to read lines. The only other person of consequence in the cast was Broadway veteran Anika Noni Rose, and while she’s the only person here with significant acting credentials, she is completely defeated by her material and doesn’t appear to be trying especially hard herself.
The only thing that makes this film superior to The Fantasticks is that it had nothing of value to ruin, since it was an utterly artistically bankrupt project from the beginning. If you watch this film, you get certain bragging rights among bad movie buffs, but I can’t think of a single other reason to see it.