Today, I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite modern day fairy tales. Alex Flinn’s Beastly, which had a movie made of it in 2011. And, well, let’s meet Beauty and the Beast!
In the book, we have Kyle Kingsbury. Gorgeous son of a famous NYC news anchor. Sure, his dad never talks to him, but he shuts up and deals with it. He knows he’s hot stuff, and looks down on everyone else. Doesn’t even notice a lot of people. One day, he pisses off a witch named Kendra, who transforms him into an all-out beast. Hair covering his whole body, no lips, big teeth, claws. A legit beast, he can’t go anywhere without people freaking out, and trying to kill him.
Playing opposite him, Linda Owens (Lindy for short). A plain redhead and literature enthusiast, at a private school on scholarship. Works part time to make sure the rent gets paid, because her dad’s an addict. Wears t-shirts and jeans all the time, her hair in a braid. Kyle himself describes her as a nobody.
The movie gives us Kyle Kingston. Running for the president of the high school Green Committee because he’s gorgeous and he knows it. That’s his whole campaign, with no beating around the bushes. One day pisses off a witch named Kendra (played by Mary-Kate Olsen), and she. . . gives him tattoos. And scars. And makes him bald. He is hideous.
He falls for Lindy Taylor (played by the gorgeous Vanessa Hudgens). A scholarship student who knows how to look cute. Her hair is always perfect, and she cares about the environment, too, because she becomes the Green Committee’s treasurer. She loves Jujy Fruits and coffee from a little coffee shop in the city. She gives to the homeless. While walking down the street with her headphones on, she starts singing out loud. Isn’t she cute? And Kyle sees it, too. When a picture is taken with him and the gorgeous, cute Lindy, he can’t help but stare at her. And she even has a cell phone! Wow, she’s so poor!
So, Kyle is shut away in a house in Brooklyn (book). Or an apartment outside the city (movie). He spends time sulking, with only the maid and the blind tutor his father hired as company. He eventually agrees to let the tutor, Will, teach him, builds a greenhouse, starts calling himself Adrian, and grows roses (book). He stalks Lindy, going by the name Hunter (movie).
Due to circumstances made possible by Lindy’s addict father (in the book, he breaks into the house, in the movie, Kyle sees him kill someone), Adrian/Hunter gets Lindy to live with him, through blackmail. She’s angry, at first, but then they start talking face-to-face. So he invites her to take Will’s lessons with him. (Except in the movie, he only starts studying because she’s there. And then he builds a greenhouse and plants roses because she likes roses. Not because he does.)
Without going blow-by-blow for the rest of the differing plots, I’d like to say the movie is shallow. After all, it’s Hollywood. Nobody can be too ugly, right? Unfashionable doesn’t exist in a teen romance! And classic literature? Who’s into that stuff? A cute nerd would be into contemporary poetry, coffee, Jujy Fruits, music and saving the planet! Plus, the climax lost all of its muchness. Quite frankly, it’s disgusting, and ruined one of my favorite books.
This isn’t to say I have a problem with the actors. I thought they all did well, particularly Mary-Kate Olsen as Kendra and Neil Patrick Harris as Will. But the plot itself? It doesn’t get what Beastly is really about.
In short, when choosing between the two, go with the book. It’s much more rewarding.