Haven is one of those purposely nonlinear films in which multiple stories cross at "random" times and locations only to wind up being inextricably connected to each other in the end (thanks a lot Quentin Tarantino). In this case the two main arcs belong to shady businessman Carl (Bill Paxton) and his teenage daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) and to laid-back fisherman Shy (Bloom) and his secret love Andrea (Zoe Saldana). Carl and Pippa flee to Grand Cayman from Miami when the Feds find out about his deal with cynical British businessman Allen (Stephen Dillane) while Shy has spent his whole life on the island getting by just fine until he falls for the boss's daughter and incurs her family's wrath. Their stories collide on one hot fateful night when tensions stretch to their breaking point and it becomes virtually impossible to tell who's out to get who--and why. Most of the film's characters are fairly one-dimensional but you can't really blame the cast--defiant Daddy's girl slick island shyster gun-toting gangsta crooked businessman poor fisherman with a heart of gold and so on. But because of that--and the fact few of the actors end up getting significant screen time due to the movie's fractured storytelling style--not many of the performances are all that memorable. Anthony Mackie (who also impressed in Half Nelson) does a good job seething with rage and resentment as Andrea's older brother Hammer and Saldana has her moments as a good girl brought down by heartbreak but everyone else seems to be in it more for the island location than the chance to stretch their acting muscles. As for Bloom he continues to prove that while he's good at "earnest" and "vulnerable " while "complex" and "tough" elude him. Making a movie like this work is no small challenge but unfortunately it's one that director Frank E. Flowers doesn't rise to meet. He juggles the interconnected stories awkwardly--after following Carl and Pippa for the first 30 minutes or so the film abruptly abandons them to switch over to Shy with no real explanation on where the other two have gone. It's only much later that the timeline and plot start to become clear but by then the characters' motivations and double-crosses have gotten so muddled that it's difficult to care all that much about how everything fits together. It's one thing to make an audience think a little. Memento and The Usual Suspects are fine examples of head-scratchers that reward you for giving your brain cells a workout. But it's quite another to confuse them with unnecessarily complicated details that don't end up making a difference in the end.
Like Sandy and Danny in Grease From Justin to Kelly's two main characters (American Idols Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini) are worlds apart: Justin's a party promoter hanging out in Miami for Spring Break; Kelly's a small-town Texas girl dragged there by her more adventurous friends. They fall madly in love after a 30-second dance number then spend the rest of the movie trying--and failing--to hook up. Contrary to the marketing behind this movie though that's where the comparisons with Grease end. From Justin to Kelly isn't a musical--it's a music video complete with MTV-style Spring Break beach parties and cellular phone "texting" as the driving force behind what little plot there is. It has the potential to be almost cultishly kitschy if the songs were even remotely interesting but they're just more of the same trite pop garbage we've come to expect from our American Idols. The songs have no connection to one another or to the plot itself and the lyrics rarely reflect the situation the characters are supposed to be singing about. Even if the songs were great and this film had a plot (they're not and it doesn't) the dance numbers look like they were choreographed by a kickboxing instructor not a dancer. On the plus side choreographer Travis Payne's athletic style may singlehandedly bring breakdancing back from its shallow '80s grave.
From Justin to Kelly is so bad it would be comical if the exploitation of two actually talented singers hadn't been so utterly complete. I mean we didn't really expect them to act but at least give them something to work with in between songs. Instead even the songs are crap and the dialogue that writer Kim Fuller (Spice World) gives the stars isn't just trite--it often makes no sense whatsoever. To wit: "We met at the beach. My friends call me Kelly for short." Short for what? Kelly? The transitions from dialogue into the songs are even worse if that's possible particularly for poor Justin. "There's definitely something going on between us you know?" he says then immediately bursts into song barking out the lyrics with such diva-esque force that if he'd really been singing to his lover he'd have burst her eardrums. Clarkson belts everything out with equal vigor--including her supposedly sweet solo number designed apparently to be a modern-day version of Olivia Newton-John's heartbreaking "Hopelessly Devoted to You." She's yawping so loudly that it's impossible to believe this is a devastated young girl who's lost her love. The only scene that remotely showcases Kelly's vocal talents comes when her good-girl character decides to let loose and party hardy at the pool with a big musical number "Must Be the Madness " which pays a bit of homage to its predecessors Saturday Night Fever and Grease.
Like the shifts from dialogue into song director Robert Iscove's shifts from scene to scene are abrupt to the point of disturbing; it's as if his editor made this pic in a DIY editing suite like iMovie with too-slow dissolves and a few thinly veiled blue screens. You expect the sign of the true amateur to appear at any moment: the ubiquitous "star wipe." And it would be remiss not to mention the completely ridiculous hovercraft race between Justin and his rival the interestingly named Luke--given the obvious if grossly misguided allusion to the pod race in Phantom Menace. There are only two reasons this movie gets even half a star. One is the fact that a minor character actually calls Justin "Sideshow Bob " a reference to the character from The Simpsons whom the almost American Idol oddly resembles instead of whispering it behind his back. The other is the bikinis which are incredibly let's say creative. But the rest of the costumes border on the ridiculous; in one splashy pool party number Clarkson's wearing a skirt made entirely of--get this--men's ties. By the time the big finale rolls around--a rendition of K.C. and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)"--you'll be thinking that's the way you like this movie too--over.