MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is the spoiled, shallow and incredibly popular prince of his high school kingdom.  Entirely captivated and empowered by his own physical appearance, Kyle foolishly chooses Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), a witch masquerading as a high school student, as his latest target for humiliation.  Unfazed by his cruel behavior, Kendra decides to teach him a lesson - she transforms him into someone as unattractive on the outside as he is on the inside.  Now he has one year to find someone who can see past the surface and love him, or he will remain "Beastly" forever.  His only hope, a quiet classmate he never noticed named Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), may be his best chance to prove that love is never ugly.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Perhaps the most visually haunting of this classic tale was done by Jean Cocteau in 1946. Perhaps the most dazzling version was done by Disney Studios in 1991 as an animated musical. And perhaps the most romantically serialized version was done by CBS during its 1987-1990 television run. Alas, I can’t expect a new generation of teenagers to seek out a black & white foreign film with subtitles. And do teens of today want to watch a musical cartoon or an old TV series? I really can’t blame them if the answer is no. Today’s entertainment seekers are bombarded by so many media outlets they don’t have time to view older versions of the Beauty and the Beast legend. Too bad. Because Beastly, though modernized for this era’s consumption, is the least artistic or satisfying of this fairytale’s many redos.

I guess the main problem for me is that rather than making our protagonist unappealing physically, the creators decided to give him a hip-hop, tattooed Goth look, making him the hippest ugly guy ever. He’s still got the buff bod and he reminded me of the mean-tempered Romulan from the latest Star Trek movie. But giving him this cool aura works against the story’s theme. The girl must see beneath his physical look to find the beauty within. And besides, he’s filthy rich. That makes up for him being bald at seventeen.

Then there’s Vanessa Hudgens, one-time Disney musical idol. Can she act? Still don’t know. The camera and those who use her in movies focus on her outward appearance, but fail to give her much on the inside. And when she finally kisses the beast, I kept thinking she was cheating on Zac Efron.

Alex Pettyfer, recently seen in I Am Number Four, is more model than actor, gifted with a great hairline and six-pack abdomen, but the charisma factor has yet to develop. (Teen girls may disagree.)

It’s a lightweight version of the classic tale, mostly aimed at those who have just outgrown Nick-at-Night. The dialogue is simplistic and there’s never any real sense of desperation or honest understanding of what truly makes a person a beautiful soul.

It’s not a bad film, it’s just not a great retelling of folk tale. That said, it may appeal to those who prefer new to classic.

A word about the witchcraft in the film: Teens, I’m not trying to be preachy – I’m just concerned about anyone toying around with the dark arts. On a TV special years ago, a woman who ran a witchcraft store had this to say: “I get a lot of teenage girls in here,” said Ms. Mounauni. “You can always tell when The Craft has been on TV, ‘cause we get a big influx of girls looking for supplies. It speaks to teenaged girls looking for empowerment.” Kids, would I seem an alarmist should I suggest that programs that contain occultic material cause an interest in young people?

I’m not suggesting you need to avoid this film because there is a character in it who places spells on people. But Occult practices shouldn’t be considered just diverting amusement. Ouija boards, psychic readers, and other forms of misleading supernatural entertainment should not be taken lightly. In Leviticus 19:26 we are instructed, “Do not practice divination or sorcery.” There are several warnings in the scriptures, both Old and New, making it clear that we are to avoid witchcraft or anything associated with the occult. Last question: why’d I just tell you that?

a..I wanted to blow you away with my knowledge of scripture?

b I feel I’m smarter than you?

c. I care?

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
CBS Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A couple of crude sexual comments early on; is “suck” a crude word – because they say it a lot here.

Obscene Language: four or five obscenities, mostly the s-word.

Profanity: Three times Christ’s name is misused.

Violence: Brief violence as a drug user/dealer is threatened, gun shots and a man is killed.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Drug references, but it is not glorified.

Other: A witch places a spell on the male lead and threatens to do the same to another character – the spell turns a person ugly on the outside and if that person can’t find true love in a year, the spell will stick for ever.

Running Time: 101 minutes
Intended Audience: Mainly Teens

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