Written and directed by Daniel Barnz (Phoebe In Wonderland) and starring the unholy union of High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens and moon-eyed Mary-Kate Olsen, this new-fangled take on a very old tale makes the odd assumption that what tweenage audiences want in their fairytale adaps is more smartphone product placement and slanguage like “fattycakes”.
And that doesn’t begin to sum up the sins of this dull, plodding Beauty And The Beast update, which follows the path of a repulsive prep schooler (Alex Pettyfer) whose run-in with a resident goth-witch (Olsen!) leaves him cursed with the titular “beastly” visage until he can find a girl to love him for who he is on the inside. No easy task, considering he’s a vain, preening creep.
Pettyfer’s stricken Kyle skulks around in his penthouse hideout when, following a couple of eye-rolling plot developments, he ends up harbouring secret crush lindy (Hudgens), who’s on the lam from drug dealers.
From there, it’s your basic ill-starred, Disney-esque romance, only instead of a regal man-lion, you get a snivelling rich kid. It almost seems a disservice to mention there is a very dim bright spot in this gloopy stew: Neil Patrick Harris is sharp and funny as Kyle’s blind tutor.
There are, however, more worthwhile places to see Harris being sharp and funny. While it’s possible that less-discerning Twihards might find some worth in Beastly, it’s hard to imagine anyone lasting the full running time.
Between the title and Kyle’s eyebrow tattoos – honestly, they read “embrace” and “suck” – it’s as if the producers want us to avoid their film. if that’s the case, job well done.
A tween-baiting update that sullies the elegant fairytale with privileged brats in penthouses. Beastly is a crass, spirit-sapping bore.
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