Movie review: 'Beastly'

Neil Patrick HarrisMary-Kate OlsenPoliticsAlex PettyferVanessa HudgensBeastly (movie)

* (out of four)

Passionately in love with his own appearance, high school hotshot Kyle (Alex Pettyfer of “I Am Number Four”) doesn’t care about the environment but tells his classmates to elect him president of the “Green Committee” anyway—because he’s attractive. Rather than punish the mindless tools who vote for Kyle, witchy outcast Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen, the opposite of spooky) casts a spell that renders the arrogant rich boy’s face deformed by scars and tree tattoos that some people would probably find badass. Kyle then mopes around a lot and eventually, to break the spell, pursues a conspicuously pretty wallflower named Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens of “High School Musical”) who actually liked how forthcoming Kyle was about being a total d-bag.

The buzz: Based on Alex Flinn’s novel that modernizes “Beauty and the Beast,” “Beastly” also strongly argues against movie stardom for Pettyfer and Hudgens, whose performances suggest they think they’re playing a concrete block and a feather. Fortunately Neil Patrick Harris is on hand as, yes, Kyle’s blind tutor, the only character in the movie whose behavior is funny on purpose.

The verdict: Full of helpful tips on dating strategies such as underhanded manipulation and blatant stalking, the stunningly terrible “Beastly” spares Kyle any actual humiliation while rewarding his self-serving agenda and newfound (half-hearted) compassion for people whose issues have nothing to do with the way they look. Lindy’s so oblivious she notices neither that Kyle’s eyebrows say “Embrace” and “Suck,” nor that, apparently, her trip from New York to Machu Picchu in Peru is being taken by bus. Kyle, too, is a feast of unintentional humor, whether he’s actually calling Kendra “Frankenskank” or crying, “No, no, no,” just before lying about going to rehab. This guy’s no Winehouse-esque train wreck, though; just a spoiled racist whose phony transformation is a blast in the worst way.

Did you know? Kyle’s online profile lists his interests as “anything bangable.” Two points for honesty, point off for vagueness.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Neil Patrick HarrisMary-Kate OlsenPoliticsAlex PettyferVanessa HudgensBeastly (movie)
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