What can I say, I’m substance over style.
With news in the last few weeks of Beauty and The Beast remake/re-imaginings appearing in the not too distant future, last year’s Beastly should serve as a warning of the pitfalls associated with returning to a source that’s been successfully mined. Beastly is terrible; ineffective; pointless. It’s a twee Twilight knock-off and even worse: it’s dull.
Beastly’s troubles largely stem from a script that, much like its take on beauty, is shallow and superficial giving its characters no real reason to fall in love and assuming the audience gives a damn about what’s going on. It tries to be cute but often comes across as weird; it’s tried to transplant a fantasy into modern times but the effect is a quasi-real New York that makes little sense in how the characters think and interact with each other.
Alex Pettyfer – an uncharismatic actor – is Kyle Kingston, son of a popular but egotistical news reporter and in my notes the description of Kyle reads as this: ‘dismissive, unlikable, insensitive prick’. He’s cursed by Mary-Kate Olsen’s Goth Kendra and in order to lift the curse he has to find true love. His predictable transformation into a better person feels fraudulent, unearned and incredibly lazy. Pettyfer can’t sell the idea that he’s changed through his own volition and not through wanting to get into Vanessa Hudgen’s pants. He’s too concerned about the curse to make it seem as if he cares about anything else.
It’s a bore of a film. A fable that allows its characters to…well…not ask the questions they should be asking and absent-mindedly flip through some bad dialogue, cheesy interplay and illogical situations. If someone threatened to kill your daughter wouldn’t you call the police rather than hand her off to a stranger with red and blue squiggly lines on his face? (Even if you are a pretty shitty, drug-addled father.)
Bringing it to modern-times makes the story feel incredibly outlandish, the message – inner beauty versus looks blah, blah – is hackneyed and the way director/writer Daniel Barnz chooses to convey it is dull. Perhaps it will work its magic on its younger, intended audience with its Twilight-esque soundtrack and awkward teenage interactions. With little in the way of redeeming features Beastly should have hid away like its central character and kept to itself.