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Beastly
Genre Fantasy
 
Review:

Beastly... the title says it all. A shaggy, tween take on Twilight and Beauty & The Beast with a marketing campaign mimicking Fear, the stalker flick that launched Mark Wahlberg and Reece Witherspoon's film careers in the '90s. Paranormal romance aside, this is a simple teen high school movie with a fantasy concept, Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) in a cheesy tale of morality speaking out against superficiality and popularity.

Twilight has been a huge influence on Hollywood, capturing the hearts and minds of readers and ushering them into cinemas like sheep into lots. Yes, it may remind you of George Orwell... whether it's Animal Farm or Big Brother, but that's all that matters - the bottom line. Winning formulas are worthy of a rinse and repeat... and the film-makers have cleverly intertwined the Twilight phenomenon with a classic fairy tale in Beauty & The Beast.

Teen high school movies love remaking fairy tales and Shakespearean works... so why not take a stab at the beloved fairy tale? Beastly updates the story to bring it home for younger audiences in a teen romance about a guy who is cursed to look ugly until his true love says those three magic words, sealed with a kiss. It may not be original, but the concept is fresh enough to sustain a young audience.

The problem is that most of the audience are expecting to see Alex Pettyfer. He's the headline star, fresh off killing aliens in I Am Number Four. Pettyfer's a poor little girl's Robert Pattinson, a rising star who probably owes half his film roles to his looks. Yes, he can act - but that doesn't matter when one's able to get a wave of wolf whistles from a fixated gaggle of girls. Not so here... ironically, the majority of the audience is still infatuated with the surface of things, which means that giving Pettyfer an ugly mug for 80% of the film is a really bad idea... really bad.

Vanessa Hudgens is cute, but giving her the role of principal eye candy - even with an Olsen twin in the wings is pushing it. Throwing in a blind Neil Patrick Harris as a replacement for the clock and candlestick doesn't quite do the trick either. Unfortunately. Beastly succumbs to its TV quality much like Twilight. The performances aren't strong enough to carry the film, the effects are cheesy, the writing is average, the story is predictable and there's a lack of eye candy.

As a tale of morality it's old hat, preaching to an audience who knows but doesn't care. As a teen romance, the chemistry is okay in the scenes where they're both looking good. As a paranormal drama, the visual effects are second-rate with a winking tattoo to cap off the already ridiculous nature of the story. It would have been better if they'd set the film within a historical context - blending The Man in the Iron Mask with Beauty & The Beast instead of delivering secondhand chewing gum.

You may manage to sit through Beastly, but it's an all-out veg for a somewhat entertaining, mildly amusing and ever playful stab at being taken seriously. This is not a date movie, it's one of those movies to be embarrassed about seeing. If you're not a teeny-bopper... you're in dangerous territory - hovering between the unintentionally funny and walk out bad. Assume the fetal position and hide under the table - this one's not for you.

The bottom line: Cheesy.

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