Based on the novel by Alex Flinn, Beastly is a modern and gritty adaptation of the children's classic tale, Beauty and the Beast. 17-year old Kyle is the king of his high school in every way. He's got looks, intelligence and the wealth. But, he also has an arrogant and mean streak and is prone to mocking his unattractive classmates. Kyle particularly picks on Kendra, the school's resident Goth and sorceress. After he plays a cruel prank on her, Kendra retaliates by casting a spell that transforms him into everything he loathes. He has one year in which to reverse the spell, and to do this he has to get a girl to look beyond his appearance and to fall in love with him, or else remain in his hideous form forever.
What we thought:
If you're a Beauty and the Beast purist like me, then you'll no doubt be blaming the Twilight phenomenon for spawning a whole new generation of angst-ridden teen movies all trying to create a cult-like following.
Unfortunately, Beastly, while mildly entertaining, won't ever achieve this ambitious goal as it is an ordinary and forgettable film.
The sexy, gritty and urban setting sets the tone for what could have been clever and biting commentary on society's obsession with outward appearances. However, the film, its characters and its actors have very little to show in terms of style and substance.
Alex Pettyfer, or Alex Prettyface if you will, disappoints with a mediocre performance in his role as Kyle, the arrogant jock who is transformed into a rather tame-looking Beast after playing a cruel prank on the school's resident witch.
In arrogant mode, Pettyfer, while incredibly dislikeable, is far more engaging than when he shifts into playing the role of the scarred and deformed Beast. He tries, but loses all authenticity when going through the motions of changing.
At best, his transformation his superficial, and often seems to happen far too quickly for it to be believable. At worst, his change of character is just plain cheesy.
Vanessa Hudgens, who plays love interest Lindy, doesn't add any sparkle to the movie either. She does an adequate job, but her presence feels more like a supporting role than a lead. Hudgens as Lindy practically fades into the background and proves to be a rather forgettable character.
Similarly, the on-screen chemistry between Pettyfer and Hudgens is decidedly dreary and lacks the adolescent sizzle factor that could have saved this movie from falling into the average category.
The movie does have its cheesy yet charming moments, but what ultimately saves it from being a complete bore is Neil Patrick Harris, who shines in the supporting role as that of Kyle's witty blind tutor.
In general, book to movie adaptations almost never live up to the reader's expectations and chances are that if you've read Beastly, you'll be a little disappointed because this movie could have been so much more than it actually was. This is certainly one of those instances where the book is much better than the movie.
The transformation process for one was handled more adeptly in the book and was something that I would have liked to have seen explored in more detail.
Ultimately, with Alex Prettyface in the lead, well, one can definitely picture all the teen girls rushing out to go and see Beastly. I can't really blame them – he is quite pretty to look at. Which is of course ironic, seeing that the film means to expose the evil of vanity.
Despite its shortcomings, Beastly comprises an inherent, clichéd kind of charm that will without doubt appeal to the teen market for which it was intended.