Director: Daniel Barnz; Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, Peter Krause, Neil Patrick Harris
Beastly is just as superficial and obsessed with looks as the characters and the mindset it rails against, which would seem like a bitter, frustrating irony if it merited the emotional reaction to care that much. Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) stars as the chiselled, blonde Kyle. He’s arrogant, moneyed and cruel, which makes him the perfect guy to rule his posh Manhattan prep school. Why not?
Nothing else in writer-director Daniel Barnz’s film, based on novelist Alex Flinn’s young-adult take on Beauty and the Beast, remotely resembles any kind of nuanced reality, so we may as well play up all possible stereotypes. Kyle crosses classmate Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), who may or may not be a witch. She places a curse on him that renders him “ugly”: his head is shaved and he’s covered with facial tattoos and scars. Kyle’s markings are so artful and stylised, they’re actually cool-looking. He is not an animal. Still, he’s stuck this way unless he can find someone within one year’s time who will love him for him. That person is fellow student Lindy (High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens), the class outcast. Neil Patrick Harris, as Kyle’s blind tutor, gives a snappy performance that’s the only thing worth watching here.
The film is rated PG-13 for language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material. 86 minutes. — AP
DVD reviews: New releases in stores
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) (PG)
Aardman Animations (Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit) take to the high seas with this swashbuckling stop-motion film. Hugh Grant plays the Pirate Captain, a man whose ambitions to win the 1837 Pirate of the Year competition are deemed laughable by his more illustrious peers. But when his ragtag crew plunder a boat that happens to house Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and the last living dodo, the Pirate Captain’s dreams of stardom are reignited. They set sail for London to meet Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).
Duration: 88 minutes
Genre: Animated action-comedy
What’s good: The mostly British voice cast are all having a whale of a time, especially Grant
What’s bad: The humour can get ever so slightly risqué for a family film — but it shouldn’t offend most viewers
Cast (Voices): Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry
Wanderlust (2012) ®
A happily married — but somewhat misguided — couple lose their jobs during the recession, leave New York and land up in a commune, where there is free thinking and open living in the lap of nature. Their marriage is put to test as they both decide, intermittently, to be part of this community, hippie-like living. Even as veteran actor Alan Alda turns in a stellar performance, it is a bit of a tease to watch Jen Aniston — who plays Rachel in Friends — get it on with Paul Rudd, her best friend Phoebe’s love interest in the same TV series. And yes, it all ends predictably enough.
Duration: 98 minutes
What’s good: The genuinely funny interludes
What’s bad: The overstretched humour, which gets on your nerves after a point; also, can someone please tell Jennifer Aniston that her nose job is a disaster?
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Malin Akerman