Beastly is a modern-day retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast. Sadly, if you are looking for a live-action remake similar to the beautiful Disney version, you will not find it.
Hints of the classic tale peek through this troubled retelling, but overall the film lacks any true romance or chemistry and seems to misunderstand the story behind Beauty and the Beast. The acting is terrible and the modern-day plot doesn't make sense in terms of the events that unfold. Director Daniel Barnz has put together a sloppy retelling that had huge potential to succeed - it just didn't.
Set in high school, Beastly follows the story of Kyle Kingson (Alex Pettyfer), a beautiful high school student who only cares about looks and ridicules anyone who does not meet his standard of beauty. His bullying makes him the target of school misfit (and witch) Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), who casts a spell on him when he invites her to a dance, only to make fun of her in front of the whole school. She transforms his good looks into a mirage of deformities and he has one year to find someone to fall in love with him or his deformities will remain forever.
Enter Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), a sweet scholarship student who saw past Kyle's looks even when he was good looking. Kyle has changed his name to Hunter and persuades Lindy's drug-addicted father that she will be safer if she stays with him. Lindy lives with Kyle/Hunter and the two form a close bond which gives Kyle/Hunter a chance at getting back to normal.
Neil Patrick Harris plays Kyle/Hunter's tutor - a blind man, who can't see the deformities and gets to know the Kyle behind the looks. He has some clever lines to deliver and he does it well. He is the only part of the film that even allows for the crack of a smile. Generally, he plays his witty and charming character from How I Met Your Mother, only less obsessed with sex and girls, but it works for the film and he represents the only good thing.
The film doesn't make sense in its present day setting. If you are going to do a modern-day retelling of a classic story, you have to account for modern day events. For example, Lindy is sent to live with Kyle, going by the name Hunter, to protect her from her father's drug problem. Lindy is locked away from the rest of the world, which is accurate and true to the original tale, but doesn't make sense and appears out of place in this modern re-telling.
Pettyfer's sub par performance is distracting and it kills any form of credibility in the film. He seems completely uncomfortable playing someone ugly. With all his makeup and deformities, he doesn't seem to know what he is doing and presents a sulky, immature teenager. It's as if his physical deformities spread into his personality and made him a tortured actor trying too hard.
The chemistry between Pettyfer and Hudgens is barely there. Hudgen's has some awful lines to deliver, as does all the cast, but she can't seem to disguise the cheesy lines with her acting ability and they come out completely forced and unnatural.
Beastly is a film marketed to and made for teenage girls. The story is competent enough and makes enough sense to get by and most teenage girls will love it. In terms of a great film, it does not even come close.