Movie: Beastly

"Beastly" starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa HudgensKyle Kingson has it all – looks, intelligence, wealth and opportunity – and a wicked cruel streak. Prone to mocking and humiliating “aggressively unattractive” classmates, he zeroes in on Goth classmate Kendra, inviting her to the school’s extravagant environmental bash. Kendra accepts, and, true to form, Kyle blows her off in a particularly savage fashion. She retaliates by casting a spell that physically transforms him into everything he despises. Enraged by his horrible and unrecognizable appearance he confronts Kendra and learns that the only solution to the curse is to find someone that will love him as he is – a task he considers impossible. Repulsed by his appearance, Kyle’s callous father banishes him to Brooklyn with a sympathetic housekeeper and blind tutor. As Kyle ponders how to overcome the curse and get his old life back, he chances upon a drug addict in the act of killing a threatening dealer. Seizing the opportunity, Kyle promises the addict freedom and safety for his daughter, Lindy if she will consent to live in Kyle’s Brooklyn home. Thus begins Kyle’s journey to discover true love in this hyper-modern retelling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” story.

For fans of the book, let me say that the movie remains faithful to the love story that blossoms between Kyle and Linda/Lindy, as well as the circumstances on how Kyle becomes a “beast.” Everything else was tweaked and adjusted to make the story less fairy-tale-like.

Spoiler-phobes, beware. I do not know what I may or may not reveal in the succeeding paragraphs:

Watching Beastly, I have to say I’m on the fence whether I like the film adaptation or not. If I were to look at it as a movie independent of a book, I have to say it was well-written, a bit slow, but good in general–it’s not something I would recommend to everyone though. It’s pretty much a chick flick. But relating it to the book it was adapted from, I have to warn the fans that they’re definitely not getting what they might expect–having read the book.

If this is a good thing, it’s up to the viewer to decide; but let’s count the ways the two are different:

Number one, of course, is the time limit. The book gives Kyle two years to find a girl to fall in love with him. That’s more workable than the one year the movie gives our main protagonists. Also, that gives Kyle more time to grow as a person. But they’ve made tweaks in Kyle’s character in the movie that he doesn’t actually need two years to develop into a nicer person. The movie version has instances of goodness, a kindness the book version shows only to Magda (the book version of Zola, the housekeeper).

Second, Kyle’s love story with Lindy already begins on their first meeting. Well, Kyle’s first time to notice Lindy at school. In the book, their first meeting is a bit more nonchalant. The movie already plants seeds of love during their first meeting.

And I just realized that if I list everything the movie changed, this will become a very long post. Let’s just say they changed everything from the moment Kyle turned into a beast. So when you watch Beastly the film, you will not be watching the movie version of the book–you’re watching a film adapted from the material given by the book.

Aside from the development of Kyle and Lindy’s relationship, which I’ve mentioned stays pretty true to the book. All the details have been changed. The biggest change being Lindy’s confession of love to Kyle. It actually makes sense that they would change this part of the story. While the chase scene that ends with Adrian (the book version of Hunter) saving Lindy’s life works with the book, I think it would have been a bit forced for the film. So I applaud them for having the smarts to change it.

The change I wasn’t so happy with though has to do with Magda (Zola in the movie) and Will–the supporting characters in Kyle’s life as a beast. In the book, they had more character–more reason to be where they were. But in the film, they were relegated so much to the background that I actually thought they’d become superfluous. They were plot movers–not characters.

One of the things I really liked in the book was the twist in Magda’s character–which gave Kyle’s wish for her to be reunited with her family more weight, more depth. In the movie, the twist was taken away–and I have no idea why. It wouldn’t have needed more explanation than what was given in the book–so why take it?

And one of the things I really didn’t like about the movie was the inclusion of a blind Barney (of How I Met Your Mother) passing himself off as the tutor Will. I mean, I admire Neil Patrick Harris as an actor, and he is hitting it off the ballpark every episode in the current season of How I Met Your Mother. So I’m a little confused as to why we’re seeing a blind Barney in Beastly. Was this the director’s decision? Or the studio’s? Because I really thought it was important for Will to be Kyle’s guide to maturity–to acceptance. And I didn’t see that in the film.

Still, while I’m still not sure whether I liked it or not, I have to say I enjoyed the movie as a whole. The good outweighed the bad. And that’s the important thing.



4 thoughts on “Movie: Beastly

  1. Pingback: Movie: Pak! Pak! My Doctor Kwak! « taking a break

  2. I haven’t seen Beastly yet, although I did really like the book. I’ve just been turned off by how… unbeastly they make Kyle’s character look in the movie. His face looks like it’s just tattooed or something. I guess his physical appearance makes sense to me now if they ended up changing so much in the movie. When (and if!) I go see it I’ll just have to separate myself from the book!

    • Marketing-wise, I understand why they made Kyle’s transformation unbeastly. After all, you need your lead girl to be able to fall in love with him, and that’s just harder to do with a beast. Also, the studio would’ve lost out on the teen girls who want to see Alex Pettyfer play the role.

      Story-wise, it still works. And you don’t have to separate yourself from the book when you watch it. You won’t be able to stop yourself from comparing, but you’ll end up seeing the good parts of it in the end anyway. 🙂

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