Release Date: March 4, 2011
Director: Daniel Barnz
Writer: Daniel Barnz, Alex Flinn
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Justin Bradley, Mary Kate Olsen, Dakota Johnson, Erik Knudsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Karl Graboshas, Peter Krause, LisaGay Hamilton, Jonathan Dubsky, David Francis, Neil Patrick Harris, Rhiannon Moller-Trotter, Steve Godin, Gio Perez, Roc LaFortune, Miguel Mendoza, Julie Dretzin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 86 minutes
Studio: CBS FIlms, Storefront Films
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
I believe everyone can agree with me for saying that inner beauty triumphs far over outer beauty. It’s also great if you could have both, though real beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s the message that was sent here in ‘Beastly’, but a well written script was barely delivered along with no real drama, fair acting, and a story that’s easily forgettable. We all remember the classic story from the early 90’s of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ It was great animation, with talented voice actors, a story that’s complete and warm, and something we’ll never forget. I can’t say the same with it’s re-imagination of ‘Beastly.’ When a high school student is cursed monster form until he finds true love, he’s racing against the clock and if his times runs out he’ll be doomed to stay this way forever.
In the opening scenes we see Kyle ( Alex Pettyfer) prancing in front of the mirror in awe of his self and good looks while also doing push-ups maintaining his physique. This guy swats, breathes, and eats cockiness and is a text book example. He cares about no one but himself and treats everyone like crap, if he feels there not up to his standards. He’s extremely rude and dismissive at high school like he’s the king of the world, and probably learns it all from his father Rob (Peter Krause.) His father, is just as ugly on the inside, dismissive, and might as well have his cell phone sewn unto his face because he rather use that than have a discussion with anyone in his presence even his son. Kyle of course, is extremely popular at school with tons of idols, but even his closet so called friends, Sloan and Trey (Dakota Johnson and Erik Knudsen) really don’t appear to be so loyal.
So Alex has a problem of thinking the world owes him everything and feels that only beautiful people get what they want. He publicly announces this at the top of a student council meeting in efforts to win, and the outcast witch Kendra (Mary- Kate Olsen) is sick of it and feels our boy Kyle needs to be taught a lesson. Without any explanation of where Kendra comes from or how long she’s been haunting evil hearted beings, cursing them at will is never explained. But after countless taunts and disrespectful remarks towards her from Kyle she decides to put a curse on him. This flips his world upside in seconds, as he’s transformed from the most handsome guy around, to a bald headed, skinny, beastly faced monster with nowhere to turn. With his father Rob, being embarrassed of him, he moves him away to a decent apartment downtown so he doesn’t have to bare the sight of him. Rob also hired a blind tutor name Will (Neil Patrick Harris) for Kyle and he’s the life of the party with his well-timed jokes. So with Kyle’s new found family he must find true love in a year or he’ll be cursed for the rest of his life.
Kyle has one year to find true love and he hasn’t been using his time wisely. After 5 months of soaking in his own sorrow, he shows up at a Halloween party, runs into Kendra and begs for more time. While there he finds a love interest Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), and also realizes that people he thought were his friends in the past aren’t and constantly talk behind his back. Besides his hideous transformation, it’s another nasty wakeup call. So pieces just happen to fall together that place Kyle and Lindy in the most unusual situation where he has to protect her and this where the problems of the film turn into a snow ball effect of chaos. Starting with the characters the only one you’re rooting for is Will. That’s unfortunate because the story doesn’t entirely focus on him. He’s the blind tutor that was hired for Kyle, but also doesn’t appear to be teaching Kyle anything. He just seems like a buddy there to keep him company but then starts to dish out some life lessons at random. On the other hand, he is hilarious and while being blind has joke after joke up his sleeve. He’s trying to teach Kyle just live life and accept the cards that are dealt. He leads a great example because he gets around with ease and is blind. Lindy is the most unrealistic character throughout the whole film. While being so beautiful on the outside and in she one of the most unpopular kids at school. What makes it worse is she forced to listen to her ipod and dance around on the streets as if she’s strange just to get the point across that she’s different. So when she finally meets up with Alex you might well yell at the projection guy in theater to fast forward to the end of the film because you know exactly what will happen.
While Kyle’s make up was done well you know it’s mechanics are unrealistic, and it’s as unrealistic as the way Kyle and Lindy are forced upon each other which clocks you out of the film. It’s a combination of laziness, horrible acting, and poor writing. I thought the some scenes dealing with these two were put together in six minutes. One thing that made the classic tell of this story great was throughout the viewing you didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. Every time a rose petal in the glass fell to the bottom you got nervous in anticipation of what’s around the corner. The Beast and Bell dance around a ball room floor with a beautiful sound to back it up, but then argued to the top of their lungs like any normal couple. This version of ‘BEASTLY’ was just cakes and smiles throughout Kyle’s and Lindy’s relationship so you didn’t care. The whole dating stage was extremely rushed too, over a montage of seasonal changes that clocked you out as well. There was absolutely no drama between these two characters. The title should have been ‘Beauty and Beastly get along and will end up together.’ Yes that title sounds silly but so is this film. I want to be challenge at the theater and this time I wasn’t.
While romances are not my favorite genre I do appreciate the stories they convey. While I felt ‘Beastly’ was all over the place all I can say is it’s barely entertaining. With it’s perfect time timing of jokes from Neil Partick Harris it’s heightened the experience a small degree. Alex Pettyfer’s performance in ‘I AM NUMBER FOUR’ was acceptable but I can’t say the same here. There were too many elements that were comical while they weren’t trying to be and continued to release air like a blown tire. This is a perfect example of why many movie goers can’t stand adaptations. Instead of taking something already great and crafting it appeal to new audiences, it just comes across as taking short cuts and another money grab. Though that’s just my opinion