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Movie Review

Beastly

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Teen Fantasy Romance Supernatural Horror Adaptation Drama
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
March 4, 2011 (wide—1,900+ theaters)
DVD: June 28, 2011
Copyright, CBS Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, CBS Films

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Are good looks what is really important in life?

I’m ugly. Why was God so unfair to me this way? Answer

The film says, it’s not about how others look at you, but rather how you look at yourself.

Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens! Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

drug addiction

Featuring: Alex Pettyfer—Kyle
Vanessa Hudgens—Lindy
Neil Patrick Harris—Will
Dakota Johnson—Sloan
Erik Knudsen—Trey
Mary-Kate Olsen—Kendra
Peter Krause—Rob
more »
Director: Daniel Barnz
Producer: Susan Cartsonis—producer
Michael Flynn—executive producer
Roz Weisberg—co-producer
Distributor: CBS Films

“Love is never ugly.”

Copyrighted, CBS Films

“Beastly” is a modern retelling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast”. Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is a narcissist teen at a rich private high school. He, along with his dad, believe that looks are everything, so with this mindset, he insults those who aren’t as blessed in looks. Even his campaign for club president is “Embrace the Suck”. During his speech, Kyle uses his misconceived superiority to attack those he views as ugly and advises them to embrace their lowly assigned place in life. During this ignorant rant, he catches the attention of the rumored witch Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen). After a verbal exchange of insults, Kyle seems repentant and invites Kendra to be his date to a dance.

When Kendra arrives, Kyle reveals his true motivation for inviting her. He does his best to publicly humiliate her. Unknown to him, Kendra had simply come to offer Kyle a second chance at changing. As the story goes, he’s then turned into a beast and has one year to find true love. After months of mourning his new life, Kyle remembers Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens). She’s a beautiful, yet slightly socially awkward student with whom Kyle had already begun to like before the curse. He soon begins to linger around her apartment, watching her, but never having the nerve to approach her. When seeing her dad murder someone, he seizes the opportunity to blackmail her father into having Lindy move into his apartment. With the remaining months of his year quickly dwindling, Kyle tries to make Lindy fall in love him.

The movie, also, has some good points. Pettyfer and Hudgens have believable chemistry, and the two leads’ romance is portrayed sweetly. However, the standout performances are those of Neil Patrick Harris and Mary-Kate Olsen. The film is beautifully shot, and, instead of literally becoming a furry beast, Kyle had tattoos and facial scars. Though some might hate it, I liked this modern twist.

On the negative side, however, the plot feels very rushed, without any compelling climax. The characters are, also, underwritten. With this in mind, “Beastly” doesn’t provide the audience much time or substance to get emotionally attached to the characters. Far from an actual beast, Kyle comes off more as a whiny teen, and Lindy is never deeply explained. In the book, the two characters had more of an intellectual correspondence. Instead of deep conversations, the film has Kyle mostly trying to buy his way into Lindy’s heart.

Objectionable content

The profanity is around the 30 mark, including 7 as*, 3 b*tch, and 8 hell. The Lord’s name is misused at least 3 times. There are multiple uses of the words “skank”, “slut”, and “suck”. One character says “WTF” and another tells someone to “go blow a goat”.

Though the kisses between Lindy and Kyle are very mild, there is still some sexual content. In the beginning, Kyle is shown working out in just his boxer briefs. There’s then a montage of billboards where models are scantily clad, including one where a topless woman covers her breast with her hand and another where a man’s torso is shown with his pants unzipped. On Kyle’s Facebook-like page, he says that he likes “anything bangable” and mentions something about a “gut with a butt”. For the most part, Lindy is modestly dressed except one pajama outfit and a dress she wears in the end credits; both of these were very low cut.

Obviously, there’s some witchcraft, due to Kyle’s curse. However, Kendra’s magic is, also, shown positively, when she helps two people who are in need. In the film, the parents are portrayed as either absent or a weak addict. There’s some mild violence which includes a shooting (off screen) and a dead body.

After the curse made him scarred, Kyle’s own father became ashamed of him and moved Kyle to a distant apartment. During his seclusion, Kyle spent some time online, reading how his fellow classmates were happy he was gone. He was saddened with the realization that most disliked him; what’s even sadder is how his insults are a direct result of his dad’s teachings, so Kyle foolishly felt he was doing right by believing looks are everything (Proverbs 12:15). While humans do place a heavy judgment on one’s appearance, God looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). One of the most important things a Christian can do is to have complete control of our words.

James 1:26: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Proverbs 21:23: “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”

Though the movie has its sweet moments, I don’t personally recommend it, mostly due to its objectionable content and mediocrity. If you still decide to view it, I definitely advise not allowing young kids and preteens to see it. However, for older teens, it might help launch a good biblical discussion on God’s definition of beauty and how we should treat others, not only with actions, but with our words, as well.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I saw “Beastly” this past Friday. Despite the curse words and crude comments, it was good. It had a good message to it, and even when he got his looks back, he was still caring. He learned to love people for who they are on the inside and to care about others.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Anonymous, age 20s (Algeria)
Positive—I saw this recently with my mom, and we both enjoyed it very much (minus the few crude remarks present); her comment walking out was that she enjoyed seeing a teen-oriented movie for once where there was no premarital sex.

With regards to other comments to this film, I think a major point is being missed here with regards to Kyle’s behavior. Yes, the way he goes about finding love is the wrong way—he blackmails a girl into staying with him (chaperoned, I might add, by a blind teacher and a loving housekeeper) and they do share a space, but the entire point of that situation is to show that Kyle is undergoing a transformation. His motives are entirely selfish at first, until he learns to approach her in a different manner, placing her before himself (it is this which breaks the curse). This is the same story, as told a hundred different times—it is no different from the Disney version, in which Belle must live in the castle with the Beast.

As Christians, we know it is wrong to “give even the appearance of evil” by living together outside of marriage, but I think it permissible to allow a little license with a fairy tale in which nothing inappropriate transpires. Other than some concern over usage of the term “suckage,” I wouldn’t hesitate to let younger girls watch this, because its messages about selflessness, learning to love, and inner beauty are quite touching. Maybe no more so than the same lessons contained in various books based off the original story, but it’s a charming and quite sweet representation of a very familiar tale. And I loved the ending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Charity Bishop, age 27 (USA)
Positive—In my opinion, absolutely no version of the Beauty and the Beast story could even come close to being as good as the Disney cartoon. But, for what it was, this retelling wasn’t bad. At the beginning I felt confused, as if they were bombarding me with information way too fast, but I liked it better after “the curse” happened, and it slowed down.

One thing I would want to change: I would have liked to see some reconciliation between Kyle and his father, instead of the tacky ending implying that the witch was going to curse him, too. Speaking of “witch”… Mary-Kate Olsen did a really good job of being creepy, but I felt like the movie couldn’t make up its mind on whether she was someone to be loved or feared.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kelly Farges, age 18 (USA)
Positive—I will admit, I had low expectations for “Beastly.” It seemed like it was just another teen drama, based on some high school romance novel, but it was actually a good watch. I enjoyed how the emphasis on love was placed and how the facade of being famous can blind you to other people’s needs.

Like the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” on which the story is based, true love conquers all and saves that day. That being said, there is minor language and some drug references, but the extremely offensive point is, the magic that turns the main character into “The Beast” is no longer fairy tale magic. It is witchcraft. Real Witchcraft. Use caution for your teens and be sure they are strong in Jesus.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jacob Airey, age 23 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Very few “Hollywood” movies will rate anything better than an “offensive” moral rating, and this one is no different. Having said that, “morally” it easily could have been worse. Apparently playing for the “Twilight” crowd, it avoided any overt premarital sex between the protagonists, which is a welcome change from the usual PG-13 Hollywood fare. The movie’s main failing is… plot. Booooring. And so easily fixed: a couple of “damsel-in-distress-on-the-streets” episodes wherein Our Hero rescues her (perhaps with martial arts abilities he is briefly depicted developing during his self-enforced exile) while maintaining his distance/anonymity because of his hideosity would have gone far towards relieving the otherwise unrelenting chick-flickiness that had even my wife drumming her fingers.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Jeremy Klein, age 55 (USA)
Neutral—The movie allowed for a teachable moment regarding the devaluation of virginity. The blind school teacher, Will, makes a comment similar to, “When I was 15 and all of my friends were losing their virginity, I lost my vision.” It seems like there was another moment where there was a comment regarding virginity. The movie otherwise was simplistic and easily anticipated for an adult. The message our girls received was that it is more important to be kind and considerate than attractive and popular. The teachable moment was that you will have 15 year old schoolmates who choose to become sexually active and encourage you through casual conversation to do the same.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Dan, age 45 (USA)
Neutral—As someone who loves the tale of Beauty and the Beast, I had to see “Beastly.” However, after the movie ended, I was left feeling a little disappointed. The beginning of the film had a very “made-for-tv” feel and opened with an unbelievable situation in which the popular Kyle gave a speech about being beautiful. Further into the movie, after the witch curses Kyle, the characters become more relatable as their lives are fleshed out, but never to the point where they are likable.

The most interesting characters were Kyle’s Jamaican maid and his blind tutor. There were instances where Kyle showed genuine interest for Lindy (the story’s Belle)—when he bought her jujubes instead of jewelry or when he built the green house—but then were also moments where he attempt to hide his true self from her. Characters were rude to others and some had very poor self-images. With the witch’s warning to find true love in a year or remain a beast forever, Kyle did a 180, going from super vain jerk to kind, caring person. We, as movie goers, are supposed to learn that people can change… especially when one’s good looks are at stake.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Cynthia, age 21 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This movie had great potential, and it does live up to it in the world view but not the Biblical one. In this movie the main character has to get a girl to “love” him or he will stay in a cursed ugly form for the rest of his life. The way he goes about it unfortunately is of the devil. First of all he black mails the girls dad, and worst of all he LIVES with the girl in his house. This is highly wrong. Under no circumstance can we live with someone that we are not married to in this way. I Thessalonians 5:22, we are to “Abstain from every appearance of evil.” Even the greatest of Christians will stumble if he or she is in this kind of environment.

While I know this is not a Christian movie, and they were not Christians, but it is not OK for a Christian like ourselves to put these images in our mind. On a side note, this movie really puts lustful passions in our head especially in a scene where the girl falls on the ground, and it shows a shot up her shirt while the main actor is laying on top of her. Not cool. …I know this movie has the outside of a great message about being beautiful on the inside, but there is poison hidden inside which is a major plot point. Rat poison is 99.9 percent food and .1 percent poison.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Nates4Christ, age 22 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“Beastly,” is a remarkable re-telling of the original story of Beauty and the Beast, which most people have already heard. I have read the book by Alex Flinn, and thought it was MUCH better than the movie, but the movie itself was great. The language, especially in the beginning of the movie, was pretty bad, but no f-bombs were dropped! So yes, I do recommend “Beastly,” and I recommend the BOOK highly more.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Emily, age 12 (USA)
Positive—This movie was great, and it really has a great message in it, and it is in a modern form which draws more people into seeing it. Great movie, and I highly suggest watching it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bethany, age 12 (Canada)
Positive—I read the book and thought it was amazing! The movie, however… not so good. It was a great movie, but didn’t quite live up to its name as “Beastly.” Instead of him being a literal “beast” he is simply gruesome with his scars and tattoos and such. I admit it adds a good little twist, but, in the book, he had to, not only find someone to love him, but also deal with his new life. Often in the book he would have trouble doing normal things, because of his claws, or get angry and let his animal instinct take over. There’s not a lot of that in the movie.

However, in my opinion, the book is almost always better then the movie. I know that if I hadn’t read the book first, I would be raving about it. So don’t get the wrong idea, it was a great movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jessica, age 12 (USA)
Positive—I thought this film was really good! I went to see expecting it to have quite a lot of things, as a Christian, I would disagree with, but it wasn’t like that, and it was so much better than I thought it was going to be. I think it was pretty good, as the moral of the film is clear, and, although, there was a witch in it, it wasn’t really offensive. There was some swearing, but it wasn’t overloaded with it. I would watch this film again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Connie, age 16 (United Kingdom)