Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is a vain young man who believes that looks are everything. After he is cursed by a classmate, who is a witch, Kyle turns ugly. Only true love can save him… Find out more in the review of Beastly.
Business rating: 1/5 star
Star cast: Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris.
What’s Good: Neil Patrick Harris’ performance.
What’s Bad: The wafer-thin screenplay; the uninspiring performances; poor direction.
Verdict: Beastly is old wine in new bottle.
Loo break: Anytime! You won’t lose out on much entertainment.
Watch or Not? Recommended only if you want to see how the classic story of ‘Beauty And The Beast’ has been retold in a modern day avatar.
CBS Films’ Beastly is the story of a vain and handsome young man who becomes ugly after he is cursed by a witch.
Seventeen-year-old Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is an incredibly handsome, popular and rich high-school going boy. Kyle believes that beauty is the only thing one needs, and so he insults anybody who does not kowtow before him and his beauty. Two female classmates of his, the Gothic-inspired Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) and the quiet Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), are victims of Alex’s attitude.
At home, Alex is snubbed by his father, news anchor Rob Kingson (Peter Krause), who has no time for his son. The house-maid, Zola (Lisa Gay Hamilton), is friendly with Alex.
Things take a turn for the worse when Alex insults Kendra in front of the whole school. Kendra, who turns out to be a witch, casts a spell on Alex, after which his face and body become ugly and disfigured. Kendra tells Alex that he has one year to find someone who can see past the surface and love him, or he will remain ugly forever. Not knowing what to do, Alex shuns all social activities and starts wearing a dark hood all the time. He yearns for company, but finds that all his former supporters are happier without him. To top it all, Alex’s father, who is ashamed of his disfigurement, shifts him to a small, discreet apartment. The father even stops meeting Alex. Only Zola and Will (Neil Patrick Harris), a blind tutor hired by his father, are by his side, trying to encourage him to lead a normal life. Soon, Alex realises his mistake and asks Kendra to forgive him. Kendra refuses and asks Alex to seek true love instead.
Alex then remembers his classmate, Lindy, whom he had liked a little and he starts stalking her. He finds out that Lindy’s father is a drug addict and one day, saves him from thugs who were threatening him. In the ensuing tussle, Lindy’s father kills one of his attackers. Seeing an opportunity, Alex blackmails the father to send Lindy to his place. Alex persuades him that he has Lindy’s best interests in mind.
Once Lindy arrives at his house and puts up in the attic, Alex (who insists on being addressed as ‘Hunter’, in order to hide his real identity) plies Lindy with expensive gifts to impress her. Zola and Will advise him on how to express his love for Lindy. When they become close, Alex shows his face to Lindy, who is neither repulsed nor shocked to see him. Slowly, but surely, they form a bond. But Lindy does not say the magic words – I love you – as Alex wants her to.
One day, to his dismay, Alex discovers that Lindy intends to go to a long-planned trip abroad. But he doesn’t utter a word to her. Soon, they come close to kissing each other while visiting his father’s lake house. However, when Lindy receives word that her father has been admitted to the hospital, she departs. Alex hands her a love letter that he has been writing for months, but regrets this move immediately afterwards. He feels ashamed of his ugly looks and believes that Lindy will never love him. He resigns himself to his (ugly) fate, not even taking Lindy’s calls. Finally, the day when Lindy is to leave for her trip, arrives.
What happens next? Does Lindy love Alex? Does Alex come clean to Lindy about his real identity? What about Kendra, the witch? The rest of the film answers these questions.
Story and Screenplay – Beastly Review
Daniel Barnz’s screenplay, based on a novel by Alex Flinn, is wafer-thin. The story is inspired by the classic fairytale of ‘Beauty And The Beast’ but Barnz’s modern adaptation fails to excite the viewer. Most of the scenes are poorly written. Take for instance the scene when the witch casts her spell on Alex, or the scenes where Alex is courting Lindy. The climax, which is predictable, holds no surprises.
Moreover, Alex’s make-up, in his ugly avatar, is neither repulsive nor conventionally ugly, but very strangely done, with random tattoos and deep cuts. The fact that Alex makes no attempt to get back at Kendra (the witch) is also befuddling. The narrative is childish and will appeal only to a section of the teenagers.
The only saving grace of the film is some comic relief provided by Will, the blind teacher, and that too because it has been played superbly by Neil Patrick Harris (of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ fame).
Beastly Review – Star Performances
Alex Pettyfer delivers an average performance. He has the looks, but since we mostly see him in his ugly avatar, his handsome looks don’t help much. Vanessa Hudgens is cute but has little to do. Neil Patrick Harris is good. Mary-Kate Olsen (as the witch), Lisa Gay Hamilton (as Zola) and Peter Krause (as Rob Kingson) support well.
Beastly Review – Direction
Daniel Barnz’s direction is poor as he fails in telling a compelling story. Marcelo Zarvos’ background score is ineffective. Mandy Walker’s cinematography is average. Production values are below average. Editing, by Todd E. Miller and Thomas J. Nordberg, is okay.
The Last Word
On the whole, Beastly will fail to perform at the Indian box-office as it has little to offer.