The curse-slinging "Frankenskank," as Kyle so charmingly dubs her, is played by one of the Olsen twins (Mary-Kate, for the record), who wears serious makeup and scrunches her face into expressions of profound peevedness. And so Kyle, who, in the clumsy, jump-right-into-it opening of Beastly has been elected president of the student body (his platform: "Should you vote for me just because I'm the rich, popular, good-looking guy? Hell yeah!"), slinks off to Brooklyn, where he's set up with a blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris) and a Jamaican housemaid (Lisa Gay Hamilton).
His rich dad (Peter Krause) is too appalled by his son's "aggressively unattractive" appearance to keep him at home. Or to even meet him for lunch.
The only way to break the spell is to find a girl who will love him as he is. Enter Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), who's all about substance over style, and who lets her hair get messy just to prove it. Kyle has a year to reverse the spell before his condition becomes permanent, and there's drama with a nasty drug dealer, and there are romantic misunderstandings and the fanciful makeover of some prime Brooklyn real estate along the way.
Pettyfer, the high-cheekboned alien hero of I Am Number Four, broods and pouts and runs around heroically, sometimes in a hoodie, sometimes shirtless. Hudgens, of High School Musical lineage, exudes cutesy warmth and wistfulness, and director Daniel Barnz, who did better with his first feature, Phoebe in Wonderland, moves things from Point A to Point F in barely competent music video style.
Sure, Beastly's underlying message is a worthy one, but by the time the film gets there the audience's ability to empathize will be sorely tested.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/