“Stockholm Syndrome: A Tale of Intense Boredom Resulting in Love-Delusion” or “Beastly” by Matilda Dixon-Smith

Posted on June 2, 2011


Beastly is desperately unaware that anyone in the Western world has ever read a fairytale. This is unfortunate. I feel that if someone had just sat down with the writing/production team and calmly explained “Everyone’s heard the story of Beauty and the Beast. We’ve all seen the dancing plates and the French candlesticks, so just chill out, y’all”, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

No one thought to do this though. Shame.

Ugh, the tag line is the real test. “Love is Never Ugly”? Really?

I am so, so sorry readers. I wish I didn’t have to bring you bad news, like, all the time. I hate to break your fragile little hearts, but Beastly is just no good. I know, I saw the trailer. It looked cool, right? All that dark, jumping-up-and-down-staircases junk Alex Pettyfer did. All his shirtlessness. Mary-Kate Olsen (MK) looking HILARIOUS with her MASSIVE HAIR! Sadly, much like with Something Borrowed, I was again misled by an adequately-produced trailer. Clearly I need to sharpen my trailer-dissecting tools, but for now let’s get right into Beastly.

Girls, Alex Pettyfer is so hot. He does push ups and chin ups in his apartment in the morning (all Patrick Bateman-like, only without the breast exploding). He totally tells people at school that being hot is the best and being ugly sucks. It’s kind of mean, but no one cares and everyone is CHEERING. So, MK is a “witch” with weird tattoos. No one seems to be able to explain why a witch is chilling at a modern New York high school. Alex Pettyfer hates MK’s tattoos, so she gets all up in his grill about being a douche-cannon and turns him “as aggressively ugly outside as he is inside”. Yeah, that’s actually a line from the film. Anyway, she turns him all ‘beastly’ with her witchy powers.  WHY IS THERE A WITCH IN A NEW YORK HIGH SCHOOL? Alex Pettyfer (now Uglyface) gets really sad and smashes a mirror at his Manhattan apartment, so his even bigger douche-cannon Dad sends him to live in a house in Brooklyn (ick).

All pre-Uglyface…

Dad sends Uglyface a nosy Jamaican maid and a blind guy who apparently “tutors” Uglyface, but really just sits around wearing waistcoats and being snide. Blind Guy is played by the hilarious and golden Neil Patrick Harris (NPH), and we’re all wondering why he agreed to be in this film. He delivers the only good line. Look, long story short, Uglyface kidnaps Vanessa Hudgens (under the guise of “protecting” her from vague threats made by a Hispanic drug dealer, of course) and locks her in his icky Brooklyn house. He builds her a greenhouse and reads her poetry, so she falls in love with him even though he’s really ugly.

Sample Dialogue:

Uglyface – “Hi, I’m Uglyface. Move into my mansion and hang out with me? I won’t watch you sleep more than once, I promise.”

Vanessa Hudgens: “Mmm, hot. My dad’s a drug addict, so obviously I think troubled men are TOPS.”

Uglyface writes Vanessa Hudgens this really long letter, about how no-one writes letters anymore. MK pops in and out, trying to be prolific but really just being a rag-doll. LOVE!!!!! THE END.

I cannot express to you how dreadfully Dull City this film is. The acting us just so bad. It is so bad. I don’t even like blondes, but Alex Pettyfer is gorgey. It’s such a shame he is charisma-less. I just can’t listen to him mumble “ugly” and “love” fifty thousand times in one movie, all in a bad American accent (Pettyfer is British). That is asking too much of my patience. Vanessa Hudgens (for anyone who’s seen the masterpiece that is Band Slam) is trying to do this monotone, cool/loser/outcast tri-chotomy thing. She is so painfully bad at acting that nothing she tries, not even pretending to have a monotone, is successful. NPH struggles to be good under the weight of being Blind Guy, the world’s most obvious ironic statement. MK’s hair is bitchin’.

Modern-day witches have METAL FACES. You heard it here first.

Not only is the acting disastrous, the script is puerile. I’m pretty insulted that Beastly thinks I’ve never read Beauty and the Beast. Duh, I had the Orchard Book of Fairytales as a kid. Ella Enchanted is the most thumbed-through novel I own. Disney is my life-blood. I know fairytales, yo. Despite this, they feel this sad urge to painstakingly explain everything that is happening and will happen in the future, all at once and over and over again, throughout the entire film. Subtlety is like a foreign language to these people. Vanessa Hudgens delivers the line “what can I say, I prefer substance over style” to Uglyface, and you can tell she had to exercise serious restraint to stop from winking at the camera. Also, it is getting tiring seeing adults write screenplays and teleplays full of how they think ‘young folk’ converse. A teenager would not say “too cool for school” unless they were being ironic. People, people. You were young once, no?

And the music, oh, the music! When Uglyface gets sad, they play Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘Transatlanticism’. Come on!!

He’s blind, yet he always hits the target in Darts. GEDDIT???

I must say, there is some nice imagery running through the piece. Uglyface’s changing seasons tattoo is rad, for example. Also, there are some visually pleasing moments involving the aforementioned greenhouse. Unfortunately, though, their BRILLIANT scheme for making Alex Pettyfer into ‘Uglyface’ was by covering him in weird-ass tattoos, cutting his face open and filling it with metal, and giving him mis-matched ears. You could still see his badass bone structure and banging bod underneath though, so all was for NOTHING.

God, it’s upsetting that Daniel Bantz (director of the wonderful Phoebe in Wonderland) wrote and directed this. My only question is WHY? Last time I trashed a movie everyone wanted to see (cough Something Borrowedcough), people whinged about how I turned them off with my callous lady-tongue. Friends, by all means see Beastly. Just allow me to say “I told you so” afterwards.

F.Y.I. – This movie was supposed to be released in Australia in September 2010 (!) When we edited this review, we thought we would post it when the film was eventually shown in theatres here. Though it was shown in US cinemas in March 2011, there is no projected date for its cinematic release in Australia.  If you wish to view this film for yourself readers, since the cinemas will not have it, you must use your imaginations (i.e. be imaginative about finding a way of seeing it, not imagine watching the movie!)…

Posted in: Movies