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Beastly (2011) 

Screenplay and Directed by Daniel Barnz

  I could probably stop there right? I mean, the title was the one that started it, so all I can do is wholeheartedly agree. Though expecting anything more from a CBS distributed DVD may already be asking too much. Growing up I liked Beauty and the Beast just as much as Alice in Wonderland so to choose, would simply be too difficult. *Note that I’m not referring to the actual books, though each just as good on their own* So I judge it a bit more harshly simply because the tale is something that can’t be easily replaced with myself.

  Right from the moment the movie starts we see that Kyle Kingston (Alex Pettyfer) knows a thing or two about being part of the “pretty” crowd. Everyone at Buckston Academy agreeing or getting the advice to “embrace the suck.” Which I thought was funny considering the crew that he hung out with, including his girlfriend, they weren’t exactly models themselves. What was worse than his speech though was the numerous mindless robot that fed into it. It wasn’t even a speech, he just stood up and discussed his looks and famous father and that being reason enough to elect him President, of th Green Committee. Oh, but it’s not his fault. We soon see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as Kyle is ignored by his father (Peter Krause). To see them treat others like dirt and to wonder silently as to why the world would be so cruel to make them lonely is sweet ironic bliss to my eyes.

  Naturally he wins the election and invites Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen; the witch) to the celebration party as she states everyone deserving another chance. Once at the party, is met with Kyle’s insatiable power struggle as he embarrasses her as though he would dare be seen with her, the Frankenskank (Yes, he said that).  Using his own advice against him, a curse is placed as he wanders to a  rooftop in which the rest of the details are laid out for him. Having a year to find someone to love him or stay that way forever. Though his body couldn’t be adorn with mass amounts of hair, that’d be too obvious. He instead is completely bare of hair, has some tattoos, a tree on his forearm and scars on his face resembling Chucky. But the best part of his new attire being the Arabic words for “Embrace” and “Suck” that replaced his eyebrows. Each day, Alex putting in 5 hours for makeup and actually shaving his head for the part.

   His father’s immediate response being to move him out of the city and to have the maid (LisaGay Hamilton) and blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris) deal with him from then on. Or the teapot and the candlestick if referring it the cartoon. You expect cliché and for it be “girly” (for lack of a better term). But the delivery was shoddy and the interactions between Lindy and Kyle ended up being more of some extensive game of hide and seek. The way they ultimately bring Lindy into his path involving her junkie father. But instead of getting hounded by wolves, it was drug dealers who he owed money to. There’s that modern twist for ya. After the dealers brother dies, he promises of a trade involving his daughter’s life. Kyle making a bargain to keep her safe or turning in photos of the crime scene. Which he took in a matter of seconds and didn’t need to worry about silly things like, focus or actually getting what happened in the photo.

   He then weakly attempts to communicate with her by buying her expensive gifts; though he was just stalking her around the city. Some stalker he turned out to be. However, trapped in the attic had taken its toll as she decides to come down in lieu of hearing the Rangers game from a distance. Making small talk with the tutor and hearing of the mystery man’s plans to build a greenhouse atop the roof. Cue the shortest montage ever of him working on it which is the only time we see him work on it. She decides to attend class with him as he surprises her with the greenhouse and they decide to take their learning to the, not at all, romantic terrace. They read a poem aloud and have their first moment but knows he’d need more time to make her love him.

  Seeing a picture of them taken at the previous party leaves little hope as she discusses how much of a jerk “that guy” actually was. So he takes her to the zoo where he shows her something no one had ever seen before, sleeping animals! But really, it was the saddest documentary to be shown at a place that kids visited. Which seemed to work as Lindy loosens up, instantly falling asleep in his lap when the sun arises. The castle was more of less referenced as he then takes her on a short trip in hopes of giving her letters he had been writing since holding her captive. But her druggie father ruins the moment by Od’ing. Way to go father of the year. Though Kyle decides not to call her back on account of saying he had been a good friend. Which showed how much he knew because she couldn’t have been more obvious of her growing emotions towards him. Or the hundreds of phone calls placed after leaving once left to check on her father.

  If this is how they choose to introduce the story to kids today, fine. But really, it’s just as simple as not being a D-bag to those around you because you happen to be “attractive.” They didn’t need to bring in Beauty and the Beast for that, right? Certainly something I can see tweens enjoying with a mother, or softhearted father. Surly nothing original as far as making it stand out more than a big beast and nerdy girl. The only actual consistently good thing was Neil Patrick Harris’ performance. His delivery for comedic lines have more than been perfected by now so while it was natural for him, it also made everyone else look as though they were trying too hard. As well, the Jamaican housewife only kept reminding me of Miss Cleo; “Call Me Now!” and it was impossible to otherwise enjoy the character after that. I can also understand needing to shake the image that comes with High School Musical but perhaps the transition came too soon, it didn’t work for me, concerning Hudgens. Though Pettyfer was no Efron, he held his own type of cheesy appeal, he’s one of those more so meant to be “pretty,” so they chose well in that aspect. I would like to eventually see an adult version (not like that) of the fairytale but then again, the cartoon usually suffices.