Beastly Movie Review

Beastly_new_nWhen you think of Beauty and the Beast, there is a very good chance you think of the song from the hit 1991 animated movie that begins “tale as old as time” and was sung by Angela Lansbury.  A truer line could not have been sung, because the story of Beauty and the Beast is indeed an old one.  Ugly on the inside, beautiful on the outside, and vice versa.  Beastly is a 2007 novel by Alex Flinn, and now it’s a movie starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer.  The plot of the movie and the book may differ, but the basic story is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and both have been marketed towards the teenage crowd.  It’s the first movie released by CBS films, and the TV studio is hoping it’ll be their first hit as well.

Kyle Kingsbury (Alex Pettyfer) is a rich, handsome, popular student who really doesn’t seem to care about anything other than himself.    He’s mean to the other students, particularly to a teenage witch named Kendra Hilferty (Mary-Kate Olsen), to whom he plays a cruel prank.  Kendra curses him for his deed, and makes him as ugly on the outside as he is inside, and unless he can find someone to love him within a year to break the curse he will die.  Unfortunately for Kyle, his dad is just as vain as he is and abandons him in Brooklyn with his housekeeper (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and a blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris).   When he finally decides to break his isolation and take a trip into the city he runs into Lindy Taylor (Vanessa Hudgens), a student at his former school.  He ends up saving her and her dad’s life from a couple of thieves, but Lindy’s life is threatened when one of the thieves ends up dead, and Kyle convinces her father to send her to live with him until it is safe for her to return.  During her time living with him Kyle finds himself falling in love with her, and he can only hope she feels the same way before it’s too late.

Beastly is a much better movie than expected.  Sure it was made for a teenage crowd, but the classic story of Beauty and the Beast is still compelling to most age groups.  The acting was nothing special, in fact the lead roles could have been played by anyone, but Neil Patrick Harris was a great addition to the cast.  At times you find yourself waiting for his next appearance and comedic lines.  The movie itself didn’t need to be made for the big screen.  In fact it probably would have worked better as a TV movie or a direct to DVD release.  The best thing about the movie however is the story.  It hits all the beats of the classic fairy tale, and you find yourself caring for the characters.  Kyle is a pretty terrible person at the start of the movie, and you really do despise him, but by the end he’s learned his lesson and has changed for the better.  It’s kind of how the movie goes as well.  At the start you find yourself shaking your head wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into, but by the end you find that you’ve kind of enjoyed yourself.

Beastly is not a movie you need to rush out and see, but if you are looking for something to watch (and don’t mind a theatre filled with teenaged girls) you could definitely do worse.  At the very least it does what all good fairy tales do, it teaches you something and leaves you with a good feeling inside.

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