Is “Beastly,” the modern twist on the classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a “tale as old as time?” Methinks not.
“Beastly” is based on a 2007 young adult novel by Alex Flinn. It tells the story of gorgeous but arrogant teenager Kyle (Alex Pettyfer of “I Am Number Four”) who thinks he can get anything he wants because he’s good-looking and his daddy (Peter Krause of “Parenthood”) is a news anchor. He runs for president of his high school’s Green Committee, not because he cares about the environment, because he knows he’ll win — and he says so in his speech.
While everyone else seems to cheer Kyle on, a “witch” named Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) has had enough of his vapidness. But Kyle decides to upgrade his jerk status when he fake invites Kendra to a dance. In retaliation, Kendra casts a spell on Kyle. He loses his beautiful blonde locks, and numerous scars and tattoos appear on his face and chest. Kendra tells Kyle he needs to get a girl to fall in love with him within a year; if not, he’ll stay that way forever.
So distraught by his “new look,” Kyle drops out of school. Daddy the News Anchor can’t take how Kyle looks, so he sets him up in his own place and never visits. Housekeeper Zola (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and Kyle’s blind tutor Will (Neil Patrick Harris) move in to keep Kyle company.
Five months go by, and Kyle is no closer to finding love. But then, he has a brilliant idea. Why don’t I just stalk a cute girl and somehow I’ll come up with a plan to get her to fall in love with me? OK, so he doesn’t really say that in the film, but that’s what he does. He starts following former classmate Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) everywhere.
One night, Lindy’s drug-addicted dad is confronted by a dealer while Kyle watches. Lindy’s dad ends up killing the dealer. Kyle uses his phone to take pictures of the dead guy and Lindy’s dad and tells the dad that if he doesn’t let Lindy live with Kyle, he’ll call the cops on Pops. Lindy’s dad is apparently OK with letting his daughter live with a complete stranger with various crazy scars and sends her off to Kyle’s. Lindy believes Kyle is a boy named Hunter and not that guy from high school who disappeared … who she just happened to have a crush on. So these two teens with messed-up dads start to become friends, and I’m sure you can guess what happens from there.
I realize this is a movie based on a fairytale, and I fully accept the whole “curse.” However, I cannot accept that a father would let his daughter live with a complete stranger who just blackmailed him. I’m not sure if this plot point was in the novel, but it’s an awful storyline, in my opinion.
After the movie was over, I was trying to figure out what I didn’t like about it. And I think, besides that major misstep I mentioned above, it was just a blah film. Something may have gotten lost in translation somewhere. Hudgens was cute and likable, and I actually wished I would have seen more of Olsen. Harris, per usual, stole the show — he dominated every scene he was in with witty one-liners. Pettyfer’s acting as self-involved Kyle was pretty bad, but he seemed to get better as the movie went on and he transformed into the suffering Hunter.
I have to think the movie failed mostly because of the writing. The cliches were constantly flying out of the characters’ mouths, leaving me wanting something more creative and heartfelt.
A film professor once told me that for a movie to be good, an audience has to care about a character; they either have to love them or hate them. I left the theater realizing I didn’t give a rat’s behind about any of the characters in “Beastly.” It’s definitely not a fairytale worth retelling.
. . .
Follow Amanda Koehler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AEKoehler.
And don’t forget to “Like” It’s Just Movies on Facebook at