When you’re going to attempt injecting a modern spin on an overly-told classic tale, you better go for it all the way. This is one of those cases where the people behind the 91 minute Beastly had a thought – albeit a borrowed thought – but could not cultivate it to anything special. Or even fresh for that matter.
Knowing that, everyone who does venture into the theaters to gaze upon this slacking effort; should laud the powers that be who lured Neil Patrick Harris into this Beauty and the Beast meets Hunchback of Notre Dame, with a flavoring of A Christmas Carol, set in modern day high school elitism.
Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is your typical television network high school stud, complete with a rich-n-famous daddy (Peter Krause) and attractive looks; which has an entire private school in NYC worshiping his every arrogant move. Think of the shrewd adult-like kids from Gossip Girl (and don’t feel bad if you never seen that show, it’s a good thing). Kyle is so over-the-top rude and full of himself, that a vengeful gothic student in Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) is out to get him. As in, put a curse on him that will have Kyle’s arresting good lucks vanish for one year. And it works.
The once Adonis-like Kyle transforms into a gruesome, skin-headed version of Edward Scissorhands. He looks as if he is dressed for Halloween and/or is attending a Marilyn Manson concert. Scars are streaked across his face and he has these strange tattoos all over his body, which make Mike Tyson’s look normal. In order to break the curse, Kyle must find someone to tell him that they love him or else he will remain in this hideous shell.
Since his father can’t bare to have a gross looking son, he sends Kyle out to an apartment just outside the city. He hires Zola (Lisa Gay Hamilton) to attend to his needs, and also invests in a personal tutor in the blind Will (Neil Patrick Harris saving the day and keeping us awake). As Kyle tells his keepers – who live with him – what the deal is, he sets his sights on the only girl in school that never seemed to judge him even at this most obnoxious. Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens).
In acting, one must sell the audience on what is happening. The director is ultimately responsible for placing the characters in proper situations and then relies on the editing and pacing of the story to bring it all together. Therefore, the audience will become vested as things unfold. Unfortunately, the magic is never realized here. First 20 minutes might be the worst set-up and/or opening yours truly has seen in a while. Besides having a struggling chopped up screenplay, the audience will also struggle to give a crap about any of the characters. The only one they will latch onto, is the borderline cameo of Neil Patrick Harris. Simply because his delivery, along with how his character indirectly mocks the story being told, is comical.
If it wasn’t for Harris and the few symbolic scenes that had a sliver of heart in the third act, this review would have been uglier than Pettyfer’s death-metal make-up job. But even I will show mercy on this worthless adaptation.
Overall, Beastly is the worst flick of 2011 thus far in my book. It had a novel (no pun) idea but failed to capitalize on any of it. The story is rushed; character relationships are forced; and besides the addition of using social networking and literally three nice substantial lines of dialogue to progress the story emotionally, the flick lacked innovation and ended up being severely untamed. Ironically, the outside of the story – concept – was way better than what was found inside – the camera lens.
RATING: 1 out of 5