Directed by Daniel Barnz. Starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, Neil Patrick Harris.
The dark horse for the week, this film has been slammed by critics but surprisingly a large percentage of audiences have liked it. Sure it’s all a bit rush-rush in presentation owing to 90 minutes of running time and you have to suspend some disbelief but Beastly turns out to be touching, warm and charming if you forgive it’s silly premise and slightly camp characters.
Kyle Kingson, son of ‘handsome’ TV anchor Rob Kingson (Peter Krause) is all about the looks. He wants to be college president because he looks hot, and hey, hot people get ahead in life easier, as his dad has always told him. Even though his vain bravado is clearly a shield for his father’s neglect he continues to offend his classmates, especially Kendra (Olsen), the resident ‘witch’ of the college who isn’t as pretty as Kyle. So like any good witch, she casts a spell on him that transforms him into a tattooed, boil-infested bald freak who must find a girl to say she loves him within a year or he will look like hell for eternity. How bizarre but deliciously evil.
Lindy (Hudgens) is his love interest and I shan’t get into the details of how they get together, but to say the romance that blossoms between them is far more endearing than the one in this week’s Water For Elephants between Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Beastly conjures up a whiff of Beauty And The Beast, a splattering of The Little Mermaid and pinch of Edward Scissorhands. Sure it isn’t as well made as those and a lot of characters aren’t given a chance to thrive. Neil Patrick Harris’s blind teacher-shrink Will who comes to aid Kyle is the genie in the lamp of this movie. He keeps pulling out line after brilliant line of humour in the little screen time he has to titillate the audience into laughter.
Alex Pettyfer, who I hated in the repulsive sci-fi film I Am Number Four, is actually decent in this film, playing what could have turned out to be a silly tattooed skinhead with surprising sensitivity and thought. Hudgens is alright but then she isn’t singing and dancing (High School Musical) so we can forgive her. Mary-Kate Olsen is fab as the witch in spiked high heels but as I said earlier, the characters haven’t really been fleshed out for us to get to know them better.
You may find this film silly, you may find it ridiculous, but give it a chance and you’ll find that considering what else is there on offer this week, Beastly won’t be as ghastly as you imagine it to be.