A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this take on the classic Beauty and the Beast story (which is based on the novel by Alex Flinn) is aimed squarely at teens who love all things Twilight. But those drawn to the movie by its stars (High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens and "it" boy Alex Pettyfer) and basic romantic supernatural storyline might be disappointed by what ends up feeling more like a toothless high school popularity contest movie. Plus, unlike Twilight, this film has some strong language (including "s--t") and underage drinking, as well as kissing, sexual innuendo, and plenty of label-dropping. Witchcraft plays a role in the plot.
What's the story?
Inspired by the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast and based on the novel by Alex Flinn, BEASTLY takes place in present-day Brooklyn and centers on an arrogant, handsome, popular teenager named Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) who must learn about love and humility the hard way. A classmate known to be a witch (Mary-Kate Olsen) puts a hex on him, transforming him into a disfigured, tattooed, bald creature. His way out? Finding a girl who will love him as he is, and for all the right reasons. And he has to find her within one year -- or else he'll stay the way he is forever. Could Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) -- a down-to-earth scholarship student -- be the one, or is Kyle bound to be undone by his terrible reputation?
Is it any good?
BEASTLY lives up to its name: It's inert, unexciting, and sometimes laughable, and not in an intentional way. When the best part of your movie is a supporting actor who appears to be channeling his most popular character from a sitcom -- in this case, Neil Patrick Harris as Will, who seems like a blind version of How I Met Your Mother’s Barney -- you know you’re in trouble.
Start with the movie's definition of ugly, for instance. Rather than make pretty boy Pettyfer downright hideous (which is called for in this case), Beastly wimps out and goes for a tattooed, slashed, punk-rock skinhead look, with a dose of allergy-induced-looking inflammation here and there. Then there’s the tone, which is ambivalent at best. Is Beastly a supernatural mystery, a high school drama, or a romcom? (Our money is on supernatural mystery, which it abandons fairly quickly.) And what about chemistry? Pettyfer and Hudgens have none. Some storylines, like Kyle’s dynamic with his father (Peter Krause), seem promising, and the film’s look isn’t half-bad (it has a brooding, midnight-in-the-city vibe). And Harris is always a win, whatever role he plays. But honestly, Beastly is pretty blah.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the witch puts a curse on Kyle when other people at school are superficial and mean, too. How can behavior like that be addressed in real life?
How does the behavior of the teens in this movie compare to how kids treat each other in reality? Does the fantasy element make it seem less hurtful?
What would you say the movie's message is?
- In theaters: March 4, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 28, 2011
- Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen, Vanessa Hudgens
- Director: Daniel Barnz
- Studio: CBS Films
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language including some crude comments, drug references and brief violence
For kids who love romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.