out of Five
Running time: 86
A badly written, clunky reworking of Beauty and the Beast that clearly doesn't understand its own central message and fails to convince on every level, thanks to an ironically charisma-free performance from Alex Pettyfer.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Daniel Barnz, Beastly is a teen fantasy reworking of Beauty and the Beast, based on the novel by Alex Flinn.
Alex Pettyfer stars as Kyle, an arrogant, wealthy, beautiful bastard who's cursed by a witch (actually a gothed-up Mary-Kate Olsen) and has to live as a hideous monster (actually a bald guy with a few facial scars and tattoos) until he finds true love.
Things get worse when Kyle's equally vain TV star father (Peter
Krause) exiles him to a separate apartment, with only wise-cracking blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris, way too good for this shit) and his homily-spouting maid (Lisa Gay Hamilton) for company. However, hope is at hand when Kyle falls for pretty fellow classmate Lindy (Vanessa
Hudgens) and fate contrives that she somehow comes to live with him, without realising who he really is. But will she say the magic words that will free him from his curse?
Pettyfer is excellent at playing arrogant, good-looking bastards (one senses he's had a lot of practice), which is fine when he's in something like Tormented and you can look forward to him getting killed off, but something of a problem when you're supposed to actually root for him. Similarly, the message of the film revolves around how outward appearances don't matter and it's what you've got inside that counts, yet Pettyfer completely fails to convince that there's anything remotely resembling a soul inside Kyle.
Hudgens does her best but her character is blandly written and it's impossible to believe Kyle would never have noticed her when she's a hundred times hotter than anyone else on screen. Similarly, the film completely wastes its two most interesting characters (Olsen and
Harris) by giving them next to nothing to do, though at least Harris gets the film's only funny lines.
The script is painfully clunky and contrived throughout, with atrocious dialogue and shockingly cheesy moments that are meant to be romantic but fall painfully, laughably flat. That's not to say the film has any so-bad-it's-good moments, in fact it's less so-bad-it's-good than so-bad-it's-worse.
This is a badly written, poorly conceived teen romance that fails to convince on any level, thanks to a painfully clunky script and an unlikeable central performance from Alex Pettyfer.