Beastly (2011)

Beastly is the Daniel Barnz‘ adaptation of Alex Flinn‘s novel, starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Neil Patrick Harris.

Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is popular, good-looking and an ass. As a punishment for his shallow ways, the witch Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) curses him: He gets some piercings and tattoos turned into an ugly person and has a year to find a girl to fall in love with him even though he’s so ugly. Oh, and he’s ugly. So Kyle uses the one and only tried and tested find your true love method: he hides out at first, then starts stalking Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), finally kidnaps her and then reads her some poetry.* And they say romance is dead.

As you can probably take away from my totally snark-free plot recap: Beastly is not a good film. Not only do they take the already problematic Beauty-and-Beast-premise and somehow manage to make it worse, they do so with bad acting and without any charm whatsoever. Nevertheless, be it the copious amount of vodka I consumed during the showing, the snarking or the actual film: Beastly was entertaining.

*POETRY: it works, bitchez.

[Since I’m about to rip this movie apart, it might be important to point out that I did not read the book, hence I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt and leaving room for the possibility that it didn’t suck. It’s unlikely, but possible.]

I always thought that – for a story about how the true beauty is on the inside and yaddayadda, the Beauty and Beast story was incredibly obsessed with looks. And it’s so damn important that in the end, everyone is ouwardly beautiful as well. But that’s not really a fault you can lay at Beastly’s feet: it just works with the problematic material the source provides. And there are just very many things that make you want to headdesk there: the father who sells his daughter, the Stockholm syndrome, etc etc. At least some adaptations pull this off with enough charm to make you like them.

But what is a fault of Beastly is that they manage to not make Kyle’s character change. At all. There’s no development there. He does a couple of nice things, but he did do nice things randomly earlier in the film too, so that’s not really an achievement.

Also, as somebody who is pierced and has a tattoo, I refuse to accept their definition of ugly. Tattoos are sexy. Piercings are sexy. A combination of both: very sexy. [Okay, I was planning to include more pictures, but a) you don’t know how hard it is to google sexy pictures of tattooed and/or pierced men because there’s only sexy pictures of tattoed and/or pierced women, b) you don’t know how much time I could spend with googling pictures of sexy men and c) *drool*.] And a moving tattoo that shows the seasons? Awesome. Gimme! I could do without the scars but then again, they’re not too bad, either.

Anyway, what I’m saying is: they should have tried harder to make Alex Pettyfer ugly and they also should have maybe tried to not offend every tattooed and pierced person ever. Also, Kendra is tattooed herself so why her curse of making somebody ugly would include tattoos makes no sense at all.

Leaving aside the utter ugly fail, and the utter story fail [though I can’t help but assume that the people involved realised that since they have Lindy wonder about the demise of romance (Dear Lindy, romance was stalked, hunted down and killed by creepy boyfriends such as yours) or Kyle actually saying, “that thinking thing worked, I’m going to try that more often!], you’re still left with an unconvincing performances of two actors who don’t even seem to be in the room at the same time when talking to each other.

Mary-Kate Olsen wasn’t half-bad (and that’s something I never thought I’d write). And then there’s Neil Patrick Harris, struggling heroically with a script that does him no favors whatsoever and wrangling some humor from a generally rather trite affair. What he did to end up in this film (and The Smurfs)… I’m not sure I wanna know. But somebody should get sued for it.

Despite all of this, there are some delicious moments. Like when Kyle takes the pictures of Lindy’s dad to blackmail him into handing over Lindy, he takes a picture of the dead body and then another picture of Lindy’s dad. Not both in the same picture. Two seperate pictures.
Or when Kyle and Lindy are in the zoo, watching Elephant mothers and wondering how somebody would remember their child a year after their death. A whole 12 months, people. That’s 52 weeks!
And let’s not even talk about the ending, where Lindy gives up the school trip because there’s no way she could have gone and Kyle would have still been there afterwards. Or something.

Summarising: Bring snarky friends and alcohol, but leave your brain at home and it will be an entertaining evening.


  1. Ooooh, you used to dress me up as a sheikh. So corny (or was it kinky?).

    … I sincerely dislike the Stockholm syndrom kind of love.

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