Rated PG-13 for language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material, 90 minutes
“Beastly” a shallow take on “Beauty and the Beast” tale
“Beastly” is a weak, bland contemporary take on the classic “Beauty and the Beast” story and while there are some inspired moments, the crowd-pleasing tale lacks heart and emotional depth. The unsatisfying, predictable film lacks a strong emotional core and a strong script, though the eye-candy cast makes some of it worthwhile.
New York teen Kyle (newcomer Alex Pettyfer from the recent “I Am Number Four”) is rich, handsome and conceited. The son of a popular TV news anchor (Peter Krause), the shallow Kyle has a bright future ahead of him in college. That is, until he ticks off the school’s resident witch Kendra (Mary-Kate Olson) who puts a spell on Kyle, turning him into a hideously ugly human covered in scars and tattoos; if he can get someone to love him for who he is within a year, he will be changed back, otherwise he gets to stay this way forever. He ends up falling for the pretty Linda (Vanessa Hudgens), a schoolmate who’s always been attracted to him, but their hidden secrets could keep them apart.
“Beastly” is “Beauty and the Beast” for the teen set, and while it is an interesting take on the classic tale, the delayed film (it was actually shot in 2009) falls flat in terms of executing a memorable, satisfying story. Daniel Barnz, directing only his second feature film, makes good use of make-up and visuals in adapting Alex Finn’s best-selling novel, and while the two handsome leads try their best, it’s overall a rather shallow, calculated version of the classic age-old story, made popular in TV and animated film.
Newcomer Pettyfer, a strikingly handsome British model and actor who’s already accumulated quite a following with the “Tiger Beat” set, is inspired casting in the lead role, though a number of other actors could’ve played the role, and Hudgens, from the “High School Musical” films, is equally as pretty and bland. The two are surrounded by stronger or more memorable supporting players, including Olson twin Mary-Kate, a fun villain, and warm roles from familiar faces Lisa Gay Hamilton (of TV’s “The Practice”), and particularly “How I Met Your Mother’s” Neil Patrick Harris, who nearly steals the movie as a cheeky blind guy with some amusing one-liners.
“Beastly” seems to be missing a few things down the stretch, and it’s ultimately too predictable, too cutesy and too bland to be memorable. It’s not awful, but if it were as original and striking as Pettyfer’s extensive make-up job, it would’ve turned out far better. “Beastly” ends on a bit of a whimper, a mediocre effort that will be most appreciated by its target demographic, teenage girls.
Wes’s Grade: C