Tuesday, March 08, 2011

BEASTLY - Makes Twilight Seem Like An Epic

BEASTLY (romance drama)
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen, Peter Krause, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Neil Patrick Harris
Director: Daniel Barnz
Screenplay: Alex Finn and Daniel Barnz
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * 1/2 (out of 4)

Pettyfer (Beast) and Hudgens (Beauty)

PREAMBLE: After watching Beastly, I suddenly developed a new respect for the Twilight films. For one thing, the love triangle in Twilight may be corny but at least the story stays put in its fantasy realm. For another, the effects are way better than this lacklustre retelling of the Beauty And The Beast fairy tale - based on the novel by Alex Flinn.

Beastly is just a sorry mess of far-fetched and unrealistic plotting made worse by awful acting.

THE SKINNY: Kyle Kingson (Alex Pettyfer) is one of the most popular boys in an elite NYC high school streak. He is rich, handsome, self-centred and mean. He treats girls like objects to adorn his ego but when he plays a nasty joke on the Goth-styled 'witch' Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen, left), she casts a spell on him, turning him into a tattooed freak.

Kendra tell him that the only way out of the curse is to find someone who will profess to love him as he is. Repulsed by his appearance, Kyle's callous father (Peter Krause) banishes him to Brooklyn with a sympathetic housekeeper (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and blind tutor Neil Patrick Harris). As Kyle ponders how to overcome the curse and get his life back, he chances upon a drug addict in the act of killing a threatening dealer. Seizing the opportunity, Kyle promises the addict freedom and safety for his daughter, Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), if she will consent to live in Kyle's Brooklyn home. Thus begins Kyle's discovery of true love in this modern-day retelling of the classic tale.

HITS AND MISSES: You get the feeling that something is wrong with the movie right at the start when we see Kyle campaigning to be president of some Green club by bragging about his good looks - above all else. In real life, such an attitude would not even get him to first base of anything, let alone in an elite school supposedly populated by smart kids.

And what's so horrible about tattoos and gashes, anyway? Tattoos can be erased and gashes can be sewn up. Given the unconvincing acting by Pettyfer (who looks as if he has been 'beamed' into New York from the world of I Am Number Four) I don't see anyone rooting for him. The message of the fairy tale is about inner beauty, love and sacrifice but we don't feel much of these here.

Sure, Hudgens (pic, right), with her endearing smile and cool attitude, makes a cute Beauty. However, there is zilch chemistry between them and the conceit about her having to live in his 'castle' is just bad concoction. I can't believe that her Lindy cannot recognise her 'Beast' as school mate Kyle with bad make-up.

Neil Patrick Harris does his utmost to provide some laughs as Kyle's blind tutor - but that's about all he can accomplish. Only Hamilton manages to stay credible as the house maid with a Kingstown accent.

THE LOWDOWN: Go dig up the Disney DVD and save yourself a few bucks and all the trouble.


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