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Seventeen-year-old Kyle Alex Pettyfer is the spoiled, shallow and incredibly popular prince of his high school kingdom. Kyle foolishly chooses Kendra Mary-Kate Olsen, a witch masquerading as a high school student, as his latest target for humiliation. In order to teach Kyle a lesson, Kendra transforms him into someone as unattractive on the outside as he is on the inside. Now he has one year to find someone to love him, or he will remain Beastly forever. A quiet classmate he never noticed named Lindy Vanessa Hudgens may be his best chance to prove that love is never ugly.
Beastly definitely lives up to its name--it's an absolutely beastly film--and not in a good way. It's a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast based on Alex Flinn's novel Beastly, and one expects some pretty extreme characters, but in this movie, the characters are shallow and one-dimensional to the extreme, and their supposed personal and emotional growth is totally unbelievable. As for the plot--self-absorbed pretty-boy gets cursed, nice girl gets imprisoned with now-ugly boy, boy changes, and the two fall in love--it just never feels real or believable in this film. With a cast that includes Vanessa Hudgens and Neil Patrick Harris, one expects a halfway decent movie, but no amount of talent can overcome bad writing. In fact, one has to question whether Hudgens and Harris even tried, as their performances just aren't that good. The performances of Alex Pettyfer and Peter Krause are even worse, and Lisa Gay Hamilton only saves herself by her comic delivery of lines that primarily consist of two to three heavily accented monosyllables strung together at a time. The audience at our screening squirmed, laughed in inappropriate places, and even groaned out loud as the actors casually tossed off nuggets of wisdom in proper language that seemed totally out of place with the rest of the slang-riddled dialogue. Perhaps truisms like "Be the man I know you to be," lines quoted from Frank O'Hara's poem "Having a Coke," and statements like "Best embrace the suck" are supposed to come off as funny contrasts, but instead it all just seems hopelessly incongruous and falls horribly flat. The one good thing in this movie is the special-effects makeup, though Kyle's face probably looks nothing like the face that most people picture when they read Flinn's book. Don't bother seeing Beastly unless you enjoy sneering at bad, shallow movies. Ages 13 and older --Tami Horiuchi