Beastly Parent Guide
Fairytales have never been subtle when delivering their moral messages, and this film is no different with its heavy-handed lessons about perceived beauty and body image.
Parent Movie Review
Beastly is a retelling of the classic fairytale in which a man is aptly punished for his arrogance by having his face remodeled in a most hideous fashion. It’s a good reminder to all, when we are tempted to believe we belong to the "beautiful people" group, that such vanity can rob us of any outward attractiveness we might possess. While the story is familiar, this enchanted encounter does not include any animated singing teacups or candlesticks with French accents.
Set in the modern-day, this live-action version centers on the social circles of a private New York high school where a supercilious young man named Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is running for student body president. His platform? He’s handsome! (That alone should qualify him for the job.) And in this high-tech institution of steel, glass and parents’ credit cards, it appears he has a significant following—including Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), a sweet girl too insignificant to even create a blip on his radar.
We quickly discover the source of Kyle’s conceit when we meet his equally narcissistic father Rob (Peter Krause), a television news anchorman who gives his son just a moment of his attention—and then only after the teen sends him a text from across the kitchen.
Knowing full well how this story will proceed, it is no shock when the plot elements rapidly evolve to knock Kyle from his precarious position on his pride pedestal. That comeuppance is delivered by another student at his school (Mary-Kate Olsen). Embracing Goth fashion as a religion, the witch casts a spell on the self-centered senior and gives him a makeover that would take a week to achieve at a tattoo parlor. (Sadly, with the current popularity of all things pierced and inked, some may consider his new look to be quite trendy.)
Now the script must wrangle with a strange conflict of fantasy and reality.
Appalled at his son’s altered appearance, Rob makes a futile effort to seek medical help. But nothing can be done. Heeding the boy’s wishes to be left alone, he arranges for a home in New Jersey—a modest little mansion—where Kyle can recover and hopefully complete the one task that will remove the curse: Find a girl who will express her love for him despite his disfigurement. To help him through this difficult time, and to make sure he is clothed, fed and schooled, his life-long nanny (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and a blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris) are also sequestered in the castle.
Fairytales have never been subtle when delivering their moral messages, and this film is no different with its heavy-handed lessons about perceived beauty and body image. The opening scenes show billboards of topless men and women (no explicit female nudity is seen) to set the stage of just how fixated on style society has become. It also dips into more profanities than necessary, along with some crude sexual remarks, in what seems to be a ploy to be cooler for its intended audience.
In the end, do the dangers of judging a person by their outward appearance come through? Yes and no. Considering the plain, overlooked girl who (surprise, surprise) will become his romantic interest is played by the beautiful and popular actress Vanessa Hudgens, it is easy to argue that Kyle hasn’t learned a thing. However, the many conversations that occur before the predictable ending do provide evidence of a change of perspective. And that shift in thinking alone may make this Beast worth spending some time with.Directed by Daniel Barnz. Starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release March 4, 2011. Updated July 11, 2016
Rating & Content Info
Why is Beastly rated PG-13? Beastly is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for language including some crude comments, drug references and brief violence.
Violence: A character is shot and dies during a drug deal. A man hits a woman. Two characters enter a zoo after hours. A teen recklessly drives a motorcycle.
Sexual Content: A teen couple is seen kissing sensuously. Advertisements showing semi-nude men and women are briefly seen. A man makes a comment about his friends losing their virginity at 15 years of age. Some female characters wear revealing clothing. A man is seen without a shirt.
Language: A crude term for sex, an acronym that includes a sexual expletive, and a less-offensive synonym for a sexual expletive are used. A variety of other scatological slang, mild profanities and terms of deity are heard.
Drugs/Alcohol: A depicted drug deal results in a character being fatally shot. Teens are shown at a party consuming alcohol.
Other: A teen girl practices witchcraft.
Page last updated July 11, 2016
More parents' guide for Beastly after the break...
Beastly Parents' Guide
This movie’s main message is about body image and the way we perceive others. When asked why he dresses so nicely, a blind character comments, "It’s not about how others look at me, but about how I look at myself." What do you think he means? Where is the balance between dressing appropriately and confidently, versus becoming obsessed with image and fashion?
How are parents portrayed in this movie? What changes are Kyle and Lindy making in their lives that will take them in a different direction from the role models they have been raised by? What positive things did their parents contribute to their lives?
Rob is frequently distracted by his cell phone. Kyle later says one of his best memories is going to a certain place where there was poor cell phone reception. Why does he feel this way? How has technology impacted your life for good or bad? Is it important to limit our use of such devices in certain situations?
Cell phones are used in other parts of this film. How have these phones changed the way movies are written and the methods by which characters interact?
The most recent home video release of Beastly movie is June 28, 2011. Here are some details…
Beastly releases to DVD and Blu-ray on June 28, 2011, with the following bonus materials:
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- A Classic Tale Retold: The Story of Beastly
- Creating the Perfect Beast
- Music Video: Be Mine by Kristina and the Dolls
Related home video titles:
Walt Disney brought this fairytale to life in the animated Beauty and the Beast. The idea of seeing beyond a person’s outer appearance plays a part in Shrek and the more mature movies The Man Without a Face and Shallow Hal. Vanessa Hudgens can also be seen in High School Musical, Alex Pettyfer in Alex Ryder: Operation Stormbreaker and Mary-Kate Olsen in New York Minute.