Seventeen-year-old Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is the spoiled, shallow and incredibly popular prince of his high school kingdom. Entirely captivated and empowered by his own physical appearance, Kyle foolishly chooses Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), a classmate rumored to be a witch, as his latest target for humiliation. Unfazed by his cruel behavior, Kendra decides to teach him a lesson – she transforms him into someone as unattractive on the outside as he is on the inside. Now he has one year to find someone who can see past the surface and love him, or he will remain “Beastly” forever. His only hope, an unassuming classmate he never noticed named Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), may be his best chance to prove that love is never ugly.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the basis for Beastly, a modern take on the classic Beauty and The Beast story with a bit of a modern dark undertone, similar to that of Twilight and Red Riding Hood. Executed quite well, this teen romp delivers attractive teens, an engaging story and the hottest new female lead on the market – Vanessa Hudgens.
Relatively unknown beyond Highscool Musical and the Disney world, Hudgens is adorable as Lindy. As her year with Kyle unfolds, one can’t help but feel for the ugly one as he tries to gain her heart. Her innocent and almost forgiving attitude carries the character as she falls in love with the beast.
The entire film was cast well. Pettryfer is a teen heartthrob with only a handful of credits. Hopefully this strong performance will lead to more from this up-and-comer in the future. Mary-Kate Olsen was seductive in her witchly ways and Neil Patrick Harris (Kyle’s blind tutor) is always a blast.
Written and directed by Daniel Barnz (Phoebe in Wonderland), Beastly is based on the Alex Flinn novel of the same name and draws heavily from its Beauty and The Beast roots. Barnz did a great job piecing together an original looking film that feels like Twilight, but lacks the vampire and werewolf bites. A nod should also go to the entire makeup department for making the über attractive Pettyfer look like a morbid freak.
The DVD features an alternate ending, some deleted scenes, some behind the scenes material and a couple music videos. There’s also a cool 3D wrap around cover and a limited edition magnet frame inside the first edition box.
Beastly is a witty film with a familiar story and a strong cast. Well worth the effort.