"Beastly" certainly had a reputation to live up to heading into theaters Friday. Being based on the beloved Disney film "Beauty and the Beast," there were some pretty large shoes to fill. Nonetheless, there is much to be said about "Beastly," aside from its Disney counterpart, which isn't entirely a good thing.
The movie begins with the main character, Kyle (Alex Pettyfer), getting ready to give a campaign speech at his school. When I saw that he was running for president of the environmental club, I hoped there were some redeeming qualities for his character. Unfortunately, this hope was dispelled as soon as he began talking. Kyle makes it painfully clear to his classmates that he should be elected only because of his alluring appearance, as he has no intention of fulfilling any of the duties required of the position. Not only was the arrogance of the character overplayed, the unrealistic acceptance of his attitude was disturbing. Students and teachers alike high-fived him and congratulated him on a job well done, forgetting the fact that his entire speech was just as self-centered as he was.
As I watched, dumbfounded by both the vapid mannerisms of the characters and the feeble attempt at dialogue, I tried to pick out the equivalents of characters from "Beauty and the Beast."
Not soon after, we are introduced to the witch, local outcast Kendra Hilferty (Mary-Kate Olsen). After launching a cute attempt at a smear campaign against him, Kyle offers Kendra a ticket to a VIP party and invites her to be his date as a peace offering. She accepts, calling it a second chance for him to redeem himself. Upon arriving at the party, however, Kendra is thrown under the bus when Kyle's real date arrives. The audience is then hit with more rude, cliched dialogue about how weird Kendra is and how she isn't good enough to go out with Kyle.
Seeing that there is no good inside him, Kendra transforms Kyle into an "ugly beast" and gives him a year to find someone to love him, or stay "ugly" forever (the word ugly is shamefully misused in the film).
At first glance, Kyle (now calling himself Hunter) is very unappealing, however, the use of the word ugly is a perfect example of the kind of superficial nonsense the movie is trying to advocate against. Kyle/Hunter was still fairly attractive after the reconstruction of his face. The more appropriate term for his new appearance would be "different."
But still, the characters continue to follow their stereotypical personalities. When Kyle/Hunter returns home, his father (who is equally, if not more arrogant) is so repulsed by his son's appearance that he immediately takes him to a cosmetic surgeon to see if anything can be done to reverse the spell. As his father gets more and more desperate to make his son handsome again, Kyle/Hunter gets angry with his father's we'll-do-anything-to-fix-this attitude and leaves. His solution to the problem is to retreat to a secluded house and ignore the spell.
Kyle/Hunter sits around and indulges himself in self-pity for five months until he remembers a girl that could possibly break the curse. At this point, the focus of the movie shifts back to the try-hard hipster Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens). In addition to the fact that he has only spoken to her twice in his entire life, he decides not to introduce himself to her, but to casually follow Lindy around at night and watch her through her bedroom window. I'm no relationship expert, but I'd say that's a pretty unsettling start. When they finally get acquainted, I was hoping for a good, old-fashioned, deep relationship to distract me from the hideous dialogue. Unfortunately, that's not the case. It wouldn't have been so bad if there were actually some elements of romance to salvage this movie.
All in all, this movie had potential. The real fault here lies in the writing. The corny exchanges between characters make the movie almost completely unrealistic, not to mention the lack of romantic connection between the characters. The only redeeming quality in the movie is a 10-second clip of Kyle/Hunter hitting golf balls off his roof, which was probably the most humorous part of the film. When all is said and done, "Beastly" lacks the necessary beauty implied in the title.
Danielle Grimm is a sophomore at Clarence High School.
2 stars (out of 4)