- Written and Directed by Daniel Barnz
- March 4, 2011
One of the beautiful people after being a jerk to a powerful witch is cursed with external ugliness and has one year to find a woman and fall in love or forever be ugly.
This film based on a book of the same name by Alex Finn is not high art. It is not a sophisticated work. It is directed like a better than most television film. But it is still entertaining. It is a guilty pleasure. It is like an old microwave burrito that you stumble across in your freezer. You eat it knowing you will regret it and once the memory fades you will do it again. That is what happens with this movie. You enjoy watching it even though it can be rough and once enough time passes you go back and do it again.
Our two leads are well cast. Vanessa Hudgens as Lindy Taylor (the beauty) is by far the superior actor here. I am not calling her performance Oscar worthy, but it feels more natural. She can do the pretty girl next door thing very well. Physically Alex Pettyfer as Kyle Kingson was a great choice. He has got the looks but his performance feels like he is stressed all the time and his delivery is a little on the wooden side. He is at his best though when he is being a complete jerk.
We get a serviceable and entertaining supporting cast. LisaGay Hamilton plays Kyles housekeeper Zola Davies. Her performance was good, but that accent was bordering on caricature. Neil Patrick Harris as Kyle’s blind tutor Will Fratalli felt like he was channeling to a small degree his How I Met Your Mother character Barney Stinson. But he was the more entertaining of the supporting characters. Aside from Lindy, these characters form the core of Kyle’s life in the film as well as the central cast.
After jerking around one woman (Mary-Kate Olsen looking way to natural) at his school that turns out to be a REAL witch, he is cursed to be as ugly outside as he is inside. Both he and his news anchor father (Peter Krause) are mindful of physical appearance and he is hidden away in an old apartment.
Our main character must win the heart of the fair damsel and feel genuine love for her and she for him and not a superficial kind. Tried and true territory which can provide for interesting moments. Kyle becomes increasing infatuated with Lindy and after saving her father (Roc Lafortune) from some drug dealers and convinces him to have her move in with him for protection.
I enjoyed the movie, but something just did not click. It was missing something to make it stand out and rise above being an okay romantic film. I cannot quite put my finger on what it was. Maybe it was the ending. That is the only thing I can think of. It was sweet and all, but it did not parallel the ending of the fairytale. The original ending, which was the same as the book and paralleled the original story, involved Lindy getting kidnapped by the drug dealers and Alex saving her. Alex is shot and she confesses her love and he changes back. That would have been much more effective.
Beastly is a predictable yet entertaining film. The only real twist to the story is that it is set in the present day and not some medieval castle near a peasant village. The message in this film is clear: it is what is on the inside that counts. Do not be shallow. How shallow and superficial our beast is along with his father is a bit heavy-handed. This is in sharp contrast to the original story which was to get French girls to marry abusive old men in arranged marriages.
Beastly is not a great film but it is an entertaining film. I give it props for being a different spin on Beauty and the Beast. I will give this an if you want which is a hairs breath shy of watch it in this case.