Beastly
You’re right. He’s hideous.


Theatrical Release Date: 03/04/2011
Director: Daniel Barnz
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Neil Patrick Harris, Mary-Kate Olsen, Peter Krause
Rated: PG-13 for language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material.
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes


Trailer:

C’mon, baby. It doesn’t look that bad.

Many people hold the 1991 Disney film, “Beauty and the Beast” in high regard. The sappy songs, the cute characters, that rapscallion of a Beast and the pure-hearted Belle that he loved so much. The film went on to win 2 Oscars (Score and Original Song) and was nominated for Best Picture (the big category, there was no animated subset at the time).

Of course, there was also the television series of the late 80′s starring Ron Perlman (who kids today know better as Hellboy) and many others. But regardless which version of the classic French fairy tale (first published in the mid 1700′s) you’re watching, what connected with audiences and readers was the notion that there were real consequences to the Beast not being able to convince the girl he adores to fall in love with him, no matter his appearance.

Well, in writer/director Daniel Barnz’ “Beastly” (based on the novel by Alex Flinn), all of the torment, anguish and dire repercussions have been stripped away; leaving a sweet but ultimately hollow shell that will please those addicted to saccharine but leave others cursing yet more unrealistic expectations filling the heads of hopeless romantics.

First off, every good story is built around conflict. Well, in somehow managing to be even safer than the Disney version, “Beastly” avoids any major obstacles in getting from point A to point Happy Ending. We stutter step into the curse that makes Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) a tattooed and cut-up freak (by Mary-Kate Olsen no less, though he’s not disfigured as much as he should be), then we stutter step into getting Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) sent to live with him, then we stutter step through their courtship and then we fast forward to the audience pleasing result. And there’s no way any of this should be considered a spoiler. If you’re expecting something different, you’re on better drugs than I am.

Now, Pettyfer manages to handle the role better than he did the recent “I Am Number Four” but I’m sure the target demo only really cares about how good he looks without a shirt on (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Hudgens is sweet and likable but thanks to a mollified script, she also doesn’t need to do any heavy lifting acting wise.

Of course, like the animated version, part of the appeal to the story are the supporting characters. Filling in for Mrs. Potts is Zola the housekeeper (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and the role of Lumiere the wise-cracking candle is handled by none other than Neil Patrick Harris as a blind tutor (Boy, how did CBS Films manage to land the star of “How I Met Your Mother”, the hit CBS television show … oh, wait.)

NPH (all the cool kids call him that) is the bright spot of the film and helps inject the dialogue with a little life. Zola is the motherly / saintlike figure that helps Pettyfer grow as a person and realize that love means thinking about the other person’s needs first … hold on … I think I’m gonna … Yup, I’m going … no, wait … I’m okay. No need for the vomit bucket.

Yeah, the film is a little lot sappy and it once again highlights that if you’re filthy rich, your chances of getting a pretty girl to like you go up exponentially. But for people looking for that, who don’t mind the sad bastard emo whatever music that plays throughout, “Beastly” does what you think it will and so the pasteurized plot resolution earns the film a 2 out of 5. It’s unsurprisingly short on substance, though I doubt anyone eager to see this is going to care one bit.

2 out of 5