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Is “tween” a genre yet? If not, it should be. With crap like Twilight and the recent I Am Number Four flooding screens, it seems like a necessity. Those who venture to the theater to see these things need to be prepared for what they’re getting: an angsty, pity me film about alienation and a longing for love. Beastly is the latest of those to pander to the teenage demographic who sees every one of their measly little problems as an impassable hurdle. Still, the subject matter itself is not the problem. It’s the way it is carried out and Beastly is about as overbearing as it can possibly get.

Essentially, the film is a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” set in modern times. Alex Pettyfer plays Kyle, a smug, self involved pretty boy who values his looks over everything else. He’s the type of person who strokes his own ego while those around him enable him to do so. He bashes people who look different than him, including Kendra, played by Mary-Kate Olsen, whom he calls a “witch.” Well, as it turns out, she actually is a witch and she puts a spell on him. He suddenly becomes physically hideous and has one year to find someone to fall in love with him or he will be stuck like that forever. Enter Lindy, played by Vanessa Hudgens, who, by one of the most contrived scenarios you can possibly imagine, ends up living with Kyle and accepting him for who he is. Unfortunately, time is winding down and you can’t force love.

Although all films want you to feel a certain way about their characters, Beastly depends on it. Without proper care, the precise emotion you’re supposed to feel towards someone can be lost and that happens here. From the opening shots, where Kyle pretentiously watches himself work out in the mirror, to his subsequent speech where he boasts about his good looks to the student body, you know you’re not supposed to like him. The problem is he may not be a nice person, but his actions border on caricature. Instead of hating him, you just end up laughing at him for being such a pompous ass.

When he finally transforms into the hideous beast, you may find yourself laughing even harder. The make-up job is shoddy at best and includes visual touches like the word “suck” over the character’s left eye, which, in a rare moment of unintentional perception, is indicative of Pettyfer's acting skills. Pettyfer is, quite simply, dull. He has no charisma and no idea how to create a character. All he has going for him is his good looks, which is to say little at all. With this and I Am Number Four, Pettyfer is already responsible for two of the worst movies of the year. If he keeps this pace up, he’ll end up overtaking my entire “worst of” list.

In one of the most unfunny, unromantic, gag inducing films I’ve seen in a long while (that includes explanatory music with lyrics detailing exactly what has been going on up to that point), there is one shining light: Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Kyle’s blind tutor. Among the scoffs and jeers, he manages to deliver a few legitimately funny lines, which proves once and for all that no matter what movie he is in or what character he is playing, Neil Patrick Harris is awesome.

Of course, finding the positives in Beastly is like digging through mounds of manure to find a twenty dollar bill. The few moments of pleasantries don’t make up for the surrounding crap you have to sift through to find it.

Beastly receives 0.5/5


I Am Number Four

Movies made specifically for a teenage audience are easy to spot. These are the films that get PG-13 ratings not because the director’s vision just happened to fall into that area, but because nobody above the age of 15 would think what they are watching is any good. I Am Number Four is clearly one of those movies. It calls out to the youngest of the high school crowd who thinks a slow motion shot of someone back flipping a jet ski is cool. So if you’re a teenager, have at it, but everyone else would be better off watching something more enlightening.

Alex Pettyfer plays John, aka Number Four. Although he looks like your typical high schooler, he’s actually an alien from a planet called Lorien. After an evil race of creatures called the Mogadorians destroyed their home, he, along with eight others, travelled to Earth to escape. They are the only ones of their kind left, but the Mogadorians are on their way to take them out. The catch is they must be killed in order. Unfortunately, Number Three has just been killed and Number Four is next.

That’s as basic as a story can get. And it’s close to the stupidest. It’s a narrative of such little consequence that your pre-movie concession counter snack decision will hold more weight. I Am Number Four is an incredibly shallow film with a few snazzy effects and some flashy action scenes that may cause some to defend it, but those people would be looking past the plethora of problems that persist.

If there were to ever be one, definitive example of a film with a “hip” teenage build to it, I Am Number Four would be it. It tries so hard to be, like, you know, totally rad man, but it’s washed in clichés. Slow motion explosion walk-aways, the aforementioned water sporting, hot chicks on motorcycles and one random cliff diving scene beg the teen audience to latch onto it. Just in case that doesn’t work, however, it does everything it can to be angsty, even going so far as to include a soundtrack full of bad pop songs with lyrics about being “invisible.” Adding to that is the poorly developed and overly cheesy budding relationship between Number Four and Sarah (Dianna Agron), a photography obsessed girl who sees the beauty in everything, that would make the lovesick ninnies in Twilight gag.

This too-cool-for-school-yet-still-emotionally-distraught-over-everything tween attitude is, frankly, too much to bear, but I Am Number Four fails in more ways than just in its limited scope. It’s also one of the most shoddily produced movies I’ve seen in quite some time, featuring poor pacing and writing that makes spoof movies look cohesive. At times, there is so little feeling of an actual threat that random, unnecessary interjections of the Mogadorians shopping and humoring themselves by scaring little children seep their way in, seemingly to remind us that, yes, the movie will indeed be going somewhere at some point. But the fact that it takes so long to get there is what is so objectionable. Take, for example, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), Four’s warrior guardian, whose only job is to keep the kid safe at all costs. The possibilities for experimentation are endless, but the only major security measurement he takes is to ensure no pictures of Four end up online. These Mogadorians have mastered the ability to travel across vast expanses of space, but evidently rely solely on Google to get their information.

More problems persist in the sea of vapid idiocy that is I Am Number Four. My only fear is that I didn’t do a proper job of explaining just how awful it is, though that’s a feat with which I imagine many would struggle. Some movies are so bad they transcend a proper description. This is one them.

I Am Number Four receives 0.5/5