movie: June 28, 2011 (DVD/Blu-ray); Sony Pictures; 86 minutes
novel: February 8, 2011 (movie tie-in paperback); HarperTeen; 336 pages
I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.
Beastly is a close retelling of Alex Flinn's novel by the same name. In the movie the characters are introduced much more quickly (which moves the story along well and gets the movie going) than in the book.
The movie also starts with almost an abundance of displays of vanity and we see right off the bat that Kyle is a guy not to be liked. But this, too, moves everything along nicely. Kendra is part of the story almost immediately - and as a witch, too - not just a strange girl. Mary Kate Olsen as Kendra is one of my favorite characters in Beastly. I think she does a superb job. She has the right amount of oddness along with some great acting - it really makes you want to see her in more things.
Little things, of course, are different than in the novel - it's a different dance, little different lead up (and the earlier introduction of the characters) but the fantastic thing is that the relationships between the characters - throughout the story - stays true to what they were in the novel.
The lighting of Beastly and the fast filming used especially during scene changes really makes it feel like a young movie - but not one (at least, I don't think) that will feel dated in just a few years. The music featured is also a nice selection, it sets the mood for a lot of scenes - even adds to them - but isn't ubiquitous Top 40 that will feel dated, either.
Kyle's relationship with his tutor Will is downplayed in the movie which is really a shame as Neil Patrick Harris is great as the character in the film and the relationship, in the novel, really helped Kyle grow and develop into the new him.
It's understandable what they changed for the movie and unless you've just read Beastly you maybe won't catch or miss most of it, but reading the novel really will give you a deeper grasp of the story. Overall, though, Beastly is a very enjoyable movie with some great characters (Neil Patrick Harris [Will], Mary Kate Olsen [Kendra], and Lisagay Hamilton [Zola] especially).