Beastly has a good premise. Take the classic Beauty and the Beast and put it in a high school. The only problem is, that’s about where the Beastly filmmakers stopped being creative.
Pettyfer is Kyle, a spoiled 17-year-old who espouses the mantra that beautiful people deserve success and ugly folks should just crawl back into their holes. As a matter of fact, those are among Pettyfer’s first lines in the film. Immediately it has to hit the audience that although Pettyfer has strong screen presence in I Am Number Four, it is severely lacking in Beastly. His acting is borderline awful and all that cinematic good will that I Am Number Four created will hopefully not be lost on this promising talent.
Hudgens does her best with the role of Lindy. Although there are so many issues with her characterization, it’s hard to take her character seriously. She is the daughter of a drug-addled father, a teenage girl with dreams of romance and an individual who already it is established in the opening scenes, appreciates the beauty within.
Hudgens and Pettyfer’s characters are established as the beauty and the beast, even if Pettyfer is only a beast through his actions.
Fed up with his empty pompousness, Mary Kate Olsen, a witch-like character, casts a spell on Pettyfer that he will transform into an unsightly beast until he finds true love. Sound familiar? Well, Beastly is not your parent’s Beauty and the Beast. Here, Pettyfer’s beast has no fur, his disfigurements and scars are his cross to bear in ugly-dom.
Beastly is based on the young adult novel by Alex Flinn. The novel is wildly popular and unfortunately fans of the original source material will be severely disappointed. Where it goes off the rails is hardly in question as the film drifts into the ridiculous early in the storytelling process. Something happens to Lindy’s father that forces her to hide out with Pettyfer’s “beast.” She has no idea the individual she’s hiding out with is Kyle and over the course of several weeks, they learn to like each other and a romance is kindled.
The problem here, amongst so many, is that the audience never even feels that these characters like each other, much less can find romance. It is unfortunately, because the possibility of chemistry between Hudgens and Pettyfer exists, we just long for a movie that can truly capitalize on their chemistry.
Beastly has notoriously been sitting on a shelf for almost two years awaiting a release date. Perhaps there was tinkering going on, hoping to make a bad movie better. Whatever the reason for the delay, the improvements are unfortunately not seen on the screen. When it comes to Beastly, best walk away.
Out of five stars…