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A movie directed by Daniel Barnz

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A Fairy Tale for the Twilight Generation

  • Mar 8, 2011
Star Rating:

Beastly, based on the novel by Alex Flinn, is Beauty and the Beast for the Twilight generation. I grant you that this is not automatically a bad idea, and admittedly, aspects of the film are charming – in their own naïve, adolescent ways. There’s also no mistaking the message of the film, which is important and made abundantly clear: Looking beautiful isn’t nearly as important as acting beautiful. None of this changes the fact that the film is simple-minded and contrived, so much so that it borders on parody. Considering the target audience, considering how little was spent to market and produce the film, perhaps it would have been a better idea to steer clear of a movie theater and aim for a Saturday evening spot on the ABC Family channel. It’s such a cliché to say Hallmark or Lifetime, and besides, this movie doesn’t get that sappy.
The setting has shifted from Once Upon a Time in a Faraway Land to present day New York City. At a posh high school – which, believe it or not, has electronic billboards in the entrance hall – Kyle Kingston (Alex Pettyfer) is running for president of the environmental club. He’s incredibly handsome. He’s also astonishingly vain, arrogant, judgmental, and superficial. His opening campaign speech is unflinchingly honest; appearance is everything, he says, and he wants to be elected solely for the purpose of adding the achievement to his transcript. I can buy that he would say those things. What I can’t buy is a room full of teenagers cheering him on. If this were a real high school assembly, he would at best get a few nervous laughs and at worst an angry mob.

He only dates the hot girls in school, because obviously, they’re the only ones that matter. A girl like Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) does not live up to his standards. She’s an eccentric girl to say the least; her wardrobe looks like it came from a yard sale at Sarah Brightman’s house, and her dark, droopy eye makeup makes her look like a depressed raccoon. She has a reputation for being a witch, and sure enough, when he goes out of his way to embarrass her – something she had been expecting, I’m sure – she uses her magic to transform him from a hunky blonde boy to a scarred, bald monster covered with vine, leaf, and tree themed tattoos. She gives him one year to fall in love and be loved in return. If he fails, he will remain ugly the rest of his life.
Kyle’s father, a fabulously wealthy TV anchorman (Peter Krause), is just as superficial and unkind, and he’s always too busy to give Kyle any attention. When it becomes obvious that no doctor can treat Kyle’s condition, he leaves school, invents a cover story about going into rehab, and is sent to live in an apartment on the other side of the city, away from his father. Keeping him company is the family maid, Zola (Lisa Gay Hamilton), who’s Jamaican and, like all maids in stories like this, will often impart her years of wisdom on Kyle. Also there is the new tutor, Will (Neil Patrick Harris), who – surprise, surprise – is blind. He too imparts his own brand of wisdom, which comes in the form of jokes. Did I mention that he plays darts? You should see the grouping he manages every round.

Into Kyle’s life enters his classmate, Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), who needs a place to stay after her father’s junkie lifestyle rudely catches up to them both. She’s angry about the arrangement and dreams of running away to Machu Picchu. Kyle assumes the identity of Hunter, for he doesn’t want her to know who he really is. When he finally reveals his face, she only shrugs: “I’ve seen worse.” Really, Lindy? I can only assume from this that you interned at a pathology lab, where you got a firsthand look at all the unpleasant things that happen when people die – you know, decomposition, rigor mortis, the formation of adipocere. But I stray. Lindy and Kyle slowly begin the process of falling in love, and Kyle shows his affection by building a greenhouse on top of the apartment. Where he got the supplies and how he actually built it is never adequately explained, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.
Part of the problem is, I never believed I was watching a true romance unfold. Attraction and desire, certainly, but that kind of thing is to be expected when we’re talking about teenagers. There was no urgency, no passion, no real sense of falling in love – there’s just hormones raging. Give them ten years, and I’d wager they will have already broken up and moved on to more mature relationships. Perhaps the film’s contemporary setting is to blame; in the context of the classic fairy tale, we can suspend disbelief and watch a maiden of fifteen or so falling for a hideous beast. If Beastly had been more daring in its stylistic approach, if it had shown more of a willingness to go all out with the fantasy, then something might have developed. As it is, it’s a harmless, occasionally enjoyable, mostly forgettable rest stop between Twilight sequels.


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March 10, 2011
I actually thought that Hudgens and that actor had some chemistry, but I do agree that there were times that I couldn't buy into some things in the film. Some even came out of nowhere just to satisfy the needs of the narrative. Nice review!
March 10, 2011
Perhaps there is onscreen chemistry, but that doesn't equate to a believable romance. I personally don't think romance exists during someone's teenage years. Physical attraction and lust, certainly, but not real love.
More Beastly reviews
review by . March 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Tale As Old As Time...Beauty and The
Every now and then I allow myself to be dragged into seeing a movie that I normally wouldn’t even see unless it was on video. Well, since I haven’t seen any reviews for “Beastly” in Movie Hype (during the time of this review), I allowed myself to get dragged into the theaters to see this film. I’ve always said that “seeing a bad movie is something one needs to experience; that way, one can see what is the difference between a really bad movie and a mediocre one”. …
review by . November 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I don't generally rent movies for their cover art, because it usually dosn't turn out as well for me as when i buy books for the cover. But since my weekends of late have been long, and for lack of a better word, lonely, here i am watching Beastly. Let me just forewarn readers now this review is riddled with spoilers. The story goes as follows, Kyle, our typical popular highschool kid; rich, attractive blah blah is running for president for "president of the green committe" wich i'm assuming is …
review by . March 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There is something fun about film adaptations to pieces of literature.  Granted there are some books that should NEVER be messed with, but there are others that have potential of being something... well... interesting. Beastly is a fun book for what it is, and I feel that Young Adult lit is kind of one of those "touchy" areas because kids and teens read at different levels and have such a wide variety of interests that it quickly becomes one of those "agree to disagree" …
review by . March 24, 2011
Beastly should be considered a romantic flick by the tweener set but fails as a modern-day take on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale.    As the story goes, there's a vain prince who thinks of no one else but himself, so a witch curses him, turning him into a beast and giving him one year to find a girl to love him, not for his looks but for what's inside. In Beastly, the prince is a modern-day high school stud named Kyle (Alex Pettyfer), who basically rules the roost by proclaiming …
review by . March 15, 2011
Before I start this review, I would like to share a little anecdote. I often go to the movies with my friend (that I mentioned in the Twilight review), and we have many great stories to tell. But this one is terribly funny, even if you don't find it all that interesting. We were waiting in the huge popcorn line and this lady was in front of us ordering for a goddamn platoon and wrangling four or five kids who were all talking their heads off. The same thing happened when we were waiting to get …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


  • Prone to mocking and humiliating "aggressively unattractive" classmates, Kyle zeroes in on Goth classmate Kendra, inviting her to the school's extravagant environmental bash. Kendra accepts, and, true to form, Kyle blows her off in a particularly savage fashion. She retaliates by casting a spell that physically transforms him into everything he despises. Enraged by his horrible and unrecognizable appearance he confronts Kendra and learns that the only solution to the curse is to find someone that will love him as he is -- a task he considers impossible. Repulsed by his appearance, Kyle's callous father banishes him to Brooklyn with a sympathetic housekeeper and blind tutor. As Kyle ponders how to overcome the curse and get his old life back, he chances upon a drug addict in the act of killing a threatening dealer. Seizing the opportunity, Kyle promises the addict freedom and safety for his daughter, Lindy, if she will consent to live in Kyle's Brooklyn home.
  • Poster art for "Beastly."
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    Director: Daniel Barnz
    Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
    Release Date: 4 March 2011 (USA)
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Screen Writer: Daniel Barnz, Alex Flinn
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