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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews


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2_Chicks_Small  Judy Thorburn

Las Vegas Round The Clock -
Women's Film Critic Circle -
Nevada Film Critics Society -
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Beastly is loosely, and I do mean very loosely, based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and The Beast. I don't have a problem with that. What bothers me is that this re-imagined, reworked and updated version for modern day, young “Twilight” audiences leaves as much to be desired as the titled character. Rather than taking a refreshing, well crafted approach, this romantic fantasy goes for edgy over substance.

British born model turned actor, Alex Pettyfer, who stars in the recently released I Am Number Four, portrays Kyle Kingson, a rich, handsome, but very shallow high school teen from Manhattan with a cruel, mean streak, not unlike his self absorbed, vain, TV news anchor Dad, Rob (Peter Krause) who taught his son that looks are the only thing that is important in life because, he says “people like people who look good.” Yes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree

Prone to humiliating those he deems physically repulsive, one day Kyle picks on the wrong target, a goth classmate Kendra (a perfectly cast Mary Kate Olsen) rumored to be a witch. Duh! Bad move. Proving that the rumors are true, Kendra retaliates by casting a spell on Kyle, physically transforming him into his worst nightmare, a creature whose outward appearance is supposed to be a reflection of his inner ugliness. Supposed to be are the key words here, because Kyle doesn't really look ugly, just imprinted with strange tattoos and piercings over his newly bald head, face and body. It is not like he isn't recognizable. Those into body art might even find him very attractive. In any case, Kendra tells Kyle to “embrace the suck”. The only way to break the curse is to find someone within one year that would tell him “I love you”, or else he will have to stay like this forever.

Embarrassed by his son, good old Dad abandons Kyle after sending him off to live in seclusion somewhere in Brooklyn. But he isn't entirely alone. As live in help and to to keep him company in the spacious brownstone are wise Jamaican housekeeper Zola (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and a hired, blind, yet wisecracking tutor named Will (Neil Patrick Harris). Both are good actors, but given the lackluster material, are wasted.

Enter, Lindy (Vanessa Hudgeons) a sweet, pretty classmate of Kyle's who winds up living with Kyle for her own protection and safety after her drug addict father puts her life in danger. Lindy, of course, is the girl who captured his attention back at school, but things have radically changed since then. Will her daily presence and his growing feelings for her somehow influence him into becoming a decent human being? Will she be able to see past his outer shell and discover his inner beauty? Once again, duh! It is absurb that even with his new “look” she doesn't recognize him or his voice. It is not like she didn't listen to his speech at school when he was running for president of the Green Committee.

While the trailers looked promising, the entire movie fails to deliver an ounce of believability or any heart and soul. Pettyfer is adequate as the Beastly character. However, his inner transformation never rings true. Blame that on the poorly written, badly directed script by Daniel Barnz. Plot contrivances are plentiful and the characters are underdeveloped and one dimensional. As for Hudgeon, she's pretty, but oh so bland and boring that after this wooden performance, I would advise her to take a much needed acting course.

It is never good news when a movie's release has been pushed back. Originally scheduled to open in theatres last July, Beastly unfortunately, lives up to its title. The message is supposed to be about looking beyond outer appearance and discovering inner beauty. Yet, this film is as shallow as it gets.

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