Much like Take Me Home Tonight, Beastly is a film that I missed when it originally played in theaters but then later caught via On Demand. While Jeff and I were visiting Baltimore last month, Jeff’s younger sister, Jessica, recruited me to watch Beastly with her and I was more than happy to do it. Getting to meet and spend time with Jessica was one of my favorite things about visiting Baltimore. Even though we’re not actually related (which is actually a pretty fortunate, all things considered), we were like sisters from the moment we met. Perhaps that explains why we spent Beastly giggling and trying not to choke on microwave popcorn.
I really don’t want to have to talk about the plot of Beastly because it’s one of those films where the plot is somehow both painfully simple and annoyingly complicated (as opposed to complex) at the same time. Basically, Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is a conceited high school student who picks on a sullen witch. This witch is played by Mary Kate Olson and, since she’s supposed to be a goth here, she dresses exclusively in black and scowls a lot but that can’t change the fact that she’s still Mary Kate Olson. Anyway, Pettyfer is running for high school political office and gives a speech where he declares that good-looking people are better than normal-looking people. Olson is so disgusted with this sentiment (because, apparently, Mary Kate Olson is supposed to be one of the “normal” looking people) that she casts a curse on Kyle. Suddenly, Kyle is transformed into the “Beast,” which in this film means that he loses all of his hair, his skin gets bleached, and he gets some aesthetically pleasing tattoos on his face. I mean, seriously, he looks better once he’s cursed. But Kyle doesn’t see it that way and neither does Kyle’s father who quickly sends Kyle away to an isolated New York apartment. Anyway, Kyle learns that he had can go back to being a pretty boy if he can make someone fall in love with him and kiss him. But who could love someone with kinda pale skin? Fortunately for Kyle, Mary Kate Olson isn’t the only girl in the movie. Vanessa Hudgens is there too.
I can’t really argue that Beastly is a good film because it’s not. Actually, it’s kinda, sorta, really, really … well, not good. The film drags (which is why you have to watch this with someone talkative because otherwise, the slow spots will seem even slower), the actors either refuse to or are incapable of bringing any sort of real pathos to their roles, and the film’s lesson — don’t judge a book by its cover — is sabotaged by the fact that even the “ugly” members of the cast still look better than most people do at their absolute best.
And, in the end, if I had to explain why I enjoyed Beastly, it’s precisely because it was so bad and so silly that the film actually became enjoyable despite itself. As we watched this film, I lost track of the number of times that either Jessica or myself said, “God, this is so stupid,” in between giggles. (Though Jessica eventually decided to keep count but, of course, we then just started to say, “God, this is so stupid,” every chance we got just so she’d end up with the highest number possible.) This is one of those films where everyone looks like a model, the dialogue drips with pretension and melodrama, Mary Kate Olsen plays a glowering goth, and all plot holes are immediately followed by a musical montage. Oh, and to top it all off, Neil Patrick Harris just showed up out of nowhere, playing a blind man who likes to hit golf balls off of the top of a New York City apartment building.
In short, Beastly is a perfect film for those of us who enjoy a little guilt with our cinematic pleasure.