Certainly better than the word “passable” might imply, “Beastly” is a sly and pleasant-enough young-adult programmer that is more likeable than not.
Adapted and directed by Daniel Barnz, who previously made the Sundance title “Phoebe in Wonderland,” the film centers on a brash, arrogant high school pretty boy (Alex Pettyfer) whose internal ugliness becomes externalized when he runs afoul of a spell-casting girl dabbling in witchcraft.
She gives him one year to find someone to love him or he will remain in this altered state forever. His best shot turns out to be a shy loner (Vanessa Hudgens) to whom he had previously paid little attention.
Based on the novel by Alex Flinn, “Beastly” is of course a modern telling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” tale. Yet Barnz actually does make the film modern, subtly capturing the ways we now communicate, where deleting a text message can have an odd finality, and offhanded social media updates can, depending on context, take on significance.
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