Beastly Daniel Barnz
Published Feb 24, 2011In the opening scene of this latest take on the Beauty & the Beast parable, vapid pretty boy Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) gives a high school election speech about beauty and economic status dictating outcome, and that even though he doesn't care about the presidency, everyone will vote for him because he's hot and rich (but apparently not humble).
Because this is pure camp fantasy, the student body cheers and claps, patting him on the back as he walks through the crowd, while Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) stands by the wayside. We know she's deep because she's holding a book.
Enter Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), an emo chick with a face tattoo, warning him, in front of everyone, about the dangers of living on the surface. Ever the one for witty banter and clever retorts, he calls her ugly (a laughable assertion), which leads her to cast a spell on him, making him as beastly outside as he is inside, destined to remain that way unless he can find someone to love him within a year despite his outward appearance.
Now, instead of hopping on the local bus and looking for the first lonely woman reading a Twilight novel, he decides to pursue Vanessa Hudgens, whose character is defined by a love of Che Guevara and poetry, along with generalized goodness, demonstrated in a scene where she gives a homeless man a sandwich.
Failing to win her over with gifts, he asks his humble Jamaican maid Zola (Lisa Gay Hamilton) what he should do. When her plan to "think about what Lindy likes" works, Kyle is astounded and shocked, forever changed by the notion that actually acknowledging other people's interests makes them receptive to dialogue. His blind, dart-playing home schoolteacher Will (Neil Patrick Harris) makes a sarcastic remark, because he's the comic relief.
Beastly is fantastically bad; it's bad in a Showgirls and The In Crowd way. Rose petals cross the screen every time Lindy and Kyle talk, there's a teary-eyed scene of the beast deleting his MySpace profile and every single performance is campy and vacant beyond comprehension.
They spell-out morals and didactics, cutting to close-ups of single tears during "sad" moments, while the footage doesn't even fit together properly half the time. There's even an American Beauty "plastic bags are beautiful" sequence while the young lovers watch a video about dead baby elephants.
In short, once you move past the fact that Alex Pettyfer is quite possibly the least appealing "actor" to grace the screen since Steve Guttenberg, this work of pure and complete incompetence may very well be the greatest camp film of the last five years.
In fact, this might be the perfect group drinking game movie, given that every scene is loaded with varying layers of complex badness sure to amuse anyone looking to dole out an array of snide remarks. (Alliance)