If you were a 14-year-old girl in 2000, you will never forget how exciting it was to stay home and watch Justin Timberlake in his first movie, Model Behavior, on Disney Channel. However, it also proved to be rather distressing because this movie included him KISSING the leading lady. If you were 14 then, you get it, but if you weren’t, let me tell you, that was a Big Deal. And if for some reason, 20 years later, you’re ready to live through that experience yet again, you can now do so as the movie is available to stream on Prime Video.
That kiss was one of the first times so many teen girls related to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” 10 whole years before that song even existed. It’s such a specific and rough feeling to grapple with, and you never forget the first time you feel it. The man we liked and crushed on and daydreamed about and compromised the paint
on our bedroom walls for while hanging up dozens of his photos was locking lips with some actress that was not any of us teens, watching from home in our pajamas. The nerve! “Yeah I know it’s stupid, I just gotta see it for myself,” is a lyric that fully sums up this cinematic moment. Of course we were all gonna watch. But it summons that rare combination of jealousy and intrigue and shock and sexual awakening all at once. It’s heartbreaking and motivating at the same time. And, by the way, this specific kiss only lasts for mere seconds. It does look like a damn good kiss though. It’s romantic in its PG way. “I’m in the corner watching you kiss her, ohhh,” was the truth. Well, maybe not the corner, more like the couch, but still. The feeling was real.
Model Behavior stars Maggie Lawson in the classic retelling of two young ladies, one a famous hottie and one a high school normie, who switch places to get a taste of their other’s lifestyle they crave so much. Timberlake plays super stud Jason, a guy who gets to know the model he thought was “stuck up” but learns she’s actually sweet. He soon finds out that’s because she’s just a simple student. But hey, she got to share a steamy kiss with him so who’s the normie now?
Overall, Model Behavior wasn’t the worst start to Timberlake’s film career, which has included roles in The Social Network, Friends with Benefits, Inside Llewyn Davis and of course lending his voice to Trolls. In fact, considering he got his start on The Mickey Mouse Club, jumping to this installment of The Wonderful World of Disney film series, it made a lot of sense. The offer probably went something like, “Hey JT, while your music career’s blowing up, you want to play a hot guy in this movie and get some more money?” “Okay, cool!” What a deal! Plus the added bonus of ensuring millions of teen girls were at home having a formative life experience.
Kathie Lee Gifford and her IRL son Cody are also in this film that is cute and charming and a heavy dose of nostalgia, should you be in the mood for such a thing. Lawson is also a lot of fun and great at juggling both roles here, a sentiment my overwhelming envy previously prevented me from admitting. If you’re watching it just for JT, know that he probably shot his scenes in just a few days in between *NSYNC tour stops, so he’s not in it a whole lot. But when he is, hoo boy were those were some real swoon-worthy moments of 20 years ago. For those who can somehow manage to watch scenes that cause your heart to crumble to pieces within your chest, enjoy the trip back to your teen years via Model Behavior. As for me? I’ll keep dancing on my own.