All said and done, Beastly’s redeeming quality, hands-down, was Alex Pettyfer. That’s not to say that Pettyfer’s acting (although he is very good at his job) saved the movie. Honestly, despite its “inner beauty conquers all” theme, the best parts of the movie were the seven minutes when Pettyfer’s handsome, unscarred blonde head filled the screen.
The premise: Kyle (Pettyfer), son of a wealthy news anchor, rules his New York City school. His slogan: beauty is everything. But an “evil witch” who he mistreats makes him ugly, and his only chance at recovering his heart-melting hotness is for a girl to say she loves him.
Kyle’s dad locks him up with a blind tutor and a cleaning lady, and pretends Kyle doesn’t exist. The tutor (Neil Patrick Harris), who lost his eyesight at 15, uses biting humor to try and make Kyle either accept his fate or do something about it, instead of moping.
Under the alias Hunter and using his disfigurement, a few boils, cuts, and spiraling tattoos across his bald head, as a disguise, Kyle takes in Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), an attractive girl he barely talked to in school and whose life is in danger.
For the record, the only reason he gets this charming opportunity to make a girl say “I love you” is because he’s been stalking her for months, and so is present to hear her life threatened.
Eventually, he shows her how hideous he is, and she says “I’ve seen worse.” With such blatant encouragement as this, he falls wildly in love with her, and expresses his sentiments through a long, handwritten letter.
The interesting thing about his letter writing habits is not the diligence with which he spends five or so minutes of movie time toiling in front of a desk, but the fact that he toils without a shirt. Come to think of it, he also enjoys wandering the house shirtless—a habit that doesn’t die for most of the movie. In fact, if the ratio of time Alex Pettyfer spent shirtless directly correlated with the movie ratings, Beastly would have gotten much better reviews.
The movie relied more on impressions than on interactions to develop Kyle and Lindy’s relationship, which is understandable because this movie had to span a year in less than two hours. However, a lot of the time that was wasted showing Kyle miserable, happy, or in love (but usually shirtless while expressing these emotions) might have been better spent with his shirt on, if it meant the movie could show him becoming a decent person.
The movie does rally at the end, and his selflessness is evident when he drives Lindy to the train in a red convertible, so that she can visit her addict father in the hospital. Kyle knows that he might be forfeiting his chance to become beautiful, but lets the girl he loves go to her dad.
Although the wisecracking blind tutor deserves some snaps for his performance, and the line “You were right, the thinking thing worked” definitely got some giggles, all in all, this movie left a lot to be desired.