Beastly: No Beauty, All Beast

4 03 2011

Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) shows up on silverscreens yet again this season in Beastly, a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Starring along side him is Vanessa Hudgens, in one of her first major film roles before this spring’s Sucker Punch. And then you have Mary-Kate Olsen. Why not Ashley? Who knows. Here’s the breakdown:

Kyle (Pettyfer) is the rich, good-looking, popular kid at his elite New York high school. But when he crosses paths with Kendra, “The Witch” (Olsen), she casts a spell on him and he finds himself hideously deformed. He has one year to find true love before he’s stuck in his ugly state forever. Locked away from friends and family, Kyle only has the help of his childhood maid (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and his blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris) to attract the affections of the beautiful Lindy (Hudgens).

The Monkey: Despite the awful lines he’s been forced to recite in his two most recent movies, Pettyfer is a decent actor. He manages to slog through atrocious scripts with his decency intact and is a charismatic enough actor to keep audiences engaged. If he can break away from these kinds of Twilight-esque bombs, he might actually have a future.

Neil Patrick Harris is one of the bright points in the movie. His comedic timing as the blind tutor Will, is flawless and his ability to sense the audience’s own discomfiture with the cheesy goings-on onscreen saves many of the scenes from utter disaster. At one point he even makes a gagging noise when forced to listen to Kyle’s dramatic overtures to Lindy, mimicking much of the audience’s own sentiments.

Olsen is surprisingly good as the archetypal “witch” character; unfortunately, she is mightily underutilized, and, in fact, with the movie’s final scene, you wish you could see more of her story rather than any of the other principal characters’.

The Weasel: Where to begin. Firstly, and most problematic, Beastly doesn’t even try to establish a world where magic could exist, making the entire crux of the story absolutely unbelievable. Instead of sticking to a real-world scenario for Kyle’s disfigurement (an accident, a fire, etc.), the movie throws a total curve-ball by introducing magic, without any backstory or precedent for its existence. This could have been such an easy fix and has been done successfully countless times in other movies of this genre – the fact that Beastly ignores it completely is just plain lazy and adds to the made-for-TV feeling of the overall affair.

Aside from this fundamental flaw, there’s Hudgens, who is completely out of her element on the big screen. Her performance is ripped straight from a Disney Channel movie-of-the-month and clashes so badly with the relative talent of her co-stars, it’s jarring.

Then there’s the painful shoe-horning of the classic story into the contemporary plot. There are numerous scenes that are practically lifted shot-for-shot from the 1991 Disney animated Beauty and the Beast, and a mind-bogglingly ridiculous bit of wretched writing that attempts to explain Lindy staying with Kyle that involves her drug-addicted father and a murder.

The ending doesn’t even try to be clever or original, painting the definition of cliché across the screen and shoving a kumbaya moment between Harris’ and Hamilton’s characters down the audience’s collective throat.

In short, Beastly is pretty ghastly.

1 Death Star out of 5

What do you think? Does Alex Pettyfer have a future in Hollywood? Does Beastly live up to the many previous iterations of this classic story? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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4 responses

31 03 2011
Cal

I agree totally. This was one of the most terrible movies I’ve ever seen! And horrible job on a new take on Beauty and the Beast. Not original at all.

31 03 2011
Dustin

Yeah – and too bad; I feel like a modern take on this story would be cool 😦 Let’s hope the slew of ‘Snow White’ remakes coming up do a better job!

1 04 2011
Bluej

such a great review…i was so excited about this movie….but then when then when i saw it….i was so disappointed in myself that i just wasted money on this utter piece of crap 😦 oh well i guess all movies cant be good.

3 04 2011
Dustin

Yeah 😦 I still think it deserves a good modern retelling. I hope the new ‘Snow White’ and ‘Wizard of Oz’ reboots/remakes are better! And Vanessa Hudgens needs to stop “acting”!

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