Beastly Review
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When I was a teenager, Beauty and the Beast was a groundbreaking Disney movie—one with a beautiful princess, colorful animation, and a singing teapot. Now, two decades later, the classic fairytale takes a decidedly darker turn in director Daniel Barnz’s Beastly.

Alex Pettyfer stars as Kyle, a rich, popular, and incredibly vain teenager who wholeheartedly believes that looks are everything. But when he makes the mistake of publicly humiliating Goth girl Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), he gets to see what it’s like to be as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside. Kendra casts a spell that transforms him into a scarred, tattooed beast—and unless he can find someone to love him in one year, he’ll stay that way forever.

Exiled to a big old house in Brooklyn with his housekeeper (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and his blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris), Alex stays locked away during the day—but he often spends nights watching his pretty classmate, Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens). When Lindy’s addict father puts her life in danger, Alex rescues her, offering to protect her as long as she with him in his house. But he soon discovers that it will take more than expensive gifts to win her heart and break the spell.

With its pretty stars and its dark, moody tone, Beastly is an updated fairytale for the Twilight generation. It’s edgier than the same old girly love story, with its creepy Goth girl witch and its tattooed hero. And teenage girls will have no problem overlooking the film’s flaws—its awkward performances and its sillier, more melodramatic moments—because it’s hip and romantic. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that, under the tattoos and the scars, the star is still Hollywood’s favorite new hottie, Alex Pettyfer.)

In the midst of the dark and gritty teen melodrama, though, Neil Patrick Harris adds the perfect touch of comic relief. He keeps the film from taking itself too seriously, throwing in asides like a sarcastic Greek chorus and rolling his eyes with the more cynical members of the audience. For those of us beyond our teens, he makes the movie bearable—and sometimes even entertaining.

Beastly isn’t an Oscar-worthy romance. Some of the acting might make you cringe (or at least those of you who aren’t caught up in the sheer dreaminess that is Alex Pettyfer), and the story has more than a few excessively sappy moments. Still, it’s better than the average teen drama—and if I were still a teenager, it would probably become my favorite movie ever. With its edgy, updated twist on a classic fairytale, it’s sure to be one of the year’s top picks for teenage girls.

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