Friday, March 11, 2011


MPAA (PG-13) CNS/USCCB (A-III) The Onion/AV Club (D-) Fr. Dennis (3 stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
The Onion/AV Club -,52675/

The movie Beastly (screenplay written and directed by Daniel Barnz and based on the novel by Alex Flynn) came to me recommended by one of our parish’s young adults who had seen it the previous weekend and liked it.

The movie is a modernistic “goth” retelling of the traditional fairytale of The Beauty and the Beast, calling to mind the Leonardo di Caprio, Claire Danes version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The dialogue in Beastly, which does come across as “stiff” at times, has a formality to it which suggests that this “stiffness” is at least partly intentional to give the movie a theatrical, “other worldly,” “story-telling,” feel. Further the play itself appears simple enough that if I were a director of a high school drama department, I could see myself trying to see if there was a stage version of the Barnz’ screenplay available, which could be put-on by one’s high school drama troupe in the years to come.

The story in this retelling of the fairy-tale is set in New York City. Kyle (played by Alex Pettyfer) a rich and good looking son of an equally rich and good looking network anchorman begins the story begins the story convinced that only looks and money matter. As such he treats pretty much all the other students at his elite prep school with condescension and contempt. He is only barely aware of a classmate named Lindy (played by Vanessa Hudgens) who has a crush on him. More importantly to the set-up of the rest of the story, he goes out of his way to be nasty to a classmate named Kendra (played by Mary-Kate Olsen) who dresses like a “goth” and so appears to be his polar opposite. At one point, Kendra, who it turns out to be dabbling in magic, gets so tired of Kyle’s over-the-top bullying that she places a curse on him. The curse makes him hideously ugly. Yet unlike the curse of the old gypsy woman against a much better looking, and more fortunate progonist in Drag Me to Hell (a movie of a few years ago with some similar motiffs) Kendra’s curse can be revoked within a year, if Kyle can find someone who despite his now hideously ugly state says the words “I love you.” If he can not find someone who says those words within that year’s time, then the curse becomes permanent.

The story then plays out along the broad lines of the original fairy tale.

I found it particularly interesting / creative how the writers of the current version (Alex Flinn of the novel and Daniel Barnz of the screenplay) were able to find a plausible reason for Lindy, who becomes the “Beauty” in the story to be surrendered by her father and put into the care of the “Beastly” Kyle. But the modern version adds a number of other characters to help Kyle to learn to see beyond appearances. They include Zola (played by Lisa Gay Hamilton) his Caribbean housekeeper who has many problems in her life but to whom until his deformity he paid no mind and Will (played by Neil Patrick Harris) a blind tutor who both can’t be repulsed by Kyle’s ugliness and can help him comprehend what’s actually important in life without being distracted by sight.

Kyle grows and it, of course, ends well. The story is simple, at times stilted, but I do believe would be enjoyable to most teenagers. I honestly am _not_ a particular fan of movies that appear to glorify witchcraft and I do suspect that some parents may have an initial problem with Kendra’s character as well. However, on further reflection, I do believe that Kendra merely plays the role of a witch in the story (and, the original story _did_ have a witch, since otherwise there would have been no curse). So I would suggest to parents who otherwise may have a problem with Kendra’s character to perhaps let it go, and accept the movie for what it is, a creative, teen oriented, contemporary retelling of a compelling fairytale that asks us to get past appearances.

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>

No comments:

Post a Comment