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Originally published March 3, 2011 at 12:05 AM | Page modified March 3, 2011 at 10:29 AM

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Movie review

'Beastly': Fairy-tale misfits who look like models

Teen romance, "Beastly," starring Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer and Mary-Kate Olsen.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 2 stars

'Beastly,' with Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen, Peter Krause, Neil Patrick Harris, LisaGay Hamilton. Written and directed by Daniel Barnz, based on the novel by Alex Flinn. 86 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material. Several theaters.

For a movie whose message is that beauty comes from within, "Beastly" seems to be hedging its bets: Its high school's resident "ugly" girl is played by Mary-Kate Olsen (looking Gothly adorable), and its requisite girl-nobody-ever-notices is played by "High School Musical" ingénue Vanessa Hudgens (looking like a girl you'd notice). Based on Alex Flinn's young-adult novel, itself inspired by the story of "Beauty and the Beast," "Beastly" is the unlikely romance of Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) and Lindy (Hudgens), two New York high school kids trapped in a fairy tale that, like a pair of sale-rack jeans, doesn't fit them.

Kyle, we find, is a self-absorbed jerk who runs for student council on the platform that he's very, very good-looking. (This seems to work at their school, which resembles a teen modeling agency.) He's mean to the school's misfit Goth girl — never mind that she looks like she should be on a fashion runway — and she in turn puts a curse on him, making him ugly. His arrogant father (Peter Krause), appalled by the fact that his handsome son now looks like somebody's been practicing graffiti on his face, sequesters the boy away in another house outside the city with only a blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris, the movie's sole comic relief) and housekeeper (LisaGay Hamilton) for company. Because the plot says she has to, Lindy soon moves in, and Kyle must work to break the spell by having her fall in love with him.

And on it goes, with swoony looks and scenes of poetry being read while petals fall off flowers, not to mention tantalizing glimpses of the vast real estate holdings owned by Kyle's father, who's clearly the most overpaid news announcer in the greater New York area. Meanwhile, Hudgens bites her lip and models a lot of cute scarves; the chalk-pale Olsen swans in and out, as if she's visiting from the "Twilight" set; and Pettyfer mostly looks pained, as well he might, as he wanders around the house in the teen uniform of blazer over bare chest. Everything and everyone looks very pretty, with even Kyle's disfigurement looking like it would make a cool T-shirt logo; nothing, and nobody, makes any sense. Stick with the Disney version, kids.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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