Film Review: Beastly

A modern teen update of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Beastly is uninspired but inoffensive. It is the sort of movie that is watched on television when nothing else is on, rather than a film to be seen (and payed for) on the big screen.

Teenager Kyle is a good-looking and popular high school student. He rates appearance highly, and plays a prank on Kendra, an unpopular girl at his high school. Unbeknownst to Kyle, Kendra is a witch who curses him in revenge. Kyle is made as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside, and has one year to find love and break the curse…

At eighty-six minutes in length, Beastly is thankfully short. The film is not terrible, but it is instantly forgettable. Beastly does nothing particularly interesting with the fairy tale that it is based on. There is no sense of innovation in adapting the story in a modern setting. The film is a standard romance, with little to distinguish itself from the plethora of other contemporary-set fairy tale films.

Beastly is fairly simplistic in its depictions of the handful of characters. The film offers a polarised world, where all the rich people are inherently bad, while the poor characters are honest and good. Housekeeper Zola is unappreciated, yet still has the patience to counsel Kyle. Kyle’s school friends, meanwhile, show little concern for the disappearance of a close friend. There is very little character development, even in the case of the two protagonists. Lindy is too good to be true, while Kyle predictably learns the error of his ways in good time. Perhaps if writer and director Daniel Barnz has spent more time giving his characters depth, the film would have been more compelling.

Make-up in the film is well executed, although Kyle does not look particularly “beastly” after the curse. Unlike earlier renditions of the story, Kyle keeps the same form; his curse is disfigurement rather than a full transformation. As such, he is not as isolated or monstrous as he could have been. The soundtrack is decent, and in keeping with the style of the film.

Alex Pettyfer is adequate as Kyle; the writing stifles any opportunity for a memorable performance. Vanessa Hudgens is less convincing as Lindy. Hudgens struggles to portray a range of emotions as believably as she should. Neil Patrick Harris’ Will is responsible for most of Beastly‘s minimal laughs, and as such should have been given a more integral role.

A film that is unlikely to be an outstanding credit to any of the cast or crew, Beastly struggles to escape its mediocre status. Not a painful watch, but not a hugely enjoyable one either.