The 2011 movie Beastly is a romantic drama based off of a book by Alex Flinn. It is a modern twist to the Beauty and the Beast story. It sends both a cliché message and a problematic message to the viewers through the use of different rhetorical devices, such as pathos and logos.
A cliché message that stands out throughout this movie is that people should not judge others by their outward appearances. It is what is on the inside that counts. According to Louis Giannetti in Understanding Movies, this film depicts “a characteristic way of looking at life, a set of values typical of a given culture” (419). In the film, the main actor, Alex Pettyfer, is very arrogant in the beginning. He believes that money and looks are the most important thing in life. He thinks they can get him anything. He makes fun of people based on their appearances. Then a witch ends up turning him into a beast, so that she can teach him a lesson, after he plays a prank on her. He becomes bald and gets scars, as well as tattoos. She tells him he has a year to find somebody to love him for how he is, otherwise he will remain a beast forever. He ends up falling for Vanessa Hudgen’s character. He starts to change his views on life when his interactions with her begin to increase. He realizes that she is not scared of him; she actually thinks he is beautiful. Also, Hudgen’s character knew how Pettyfer’s character was before he changed, but she did not know that the beast was him. After she tells him she loves him, he changes back to his original form. When Hudgen’s character finds out who the beast was, she is shocked to learn how much he has changed. He no longer held the belief that “beautiful people had it better.” After undergoing the transformation and being the person on the other side, who he used to look at with distaste, he realized how it felt like for the people he made fun of. He was able to learn from his mistake. He found someone who did not judge him for what he looked like. Through this, the movie emphasis “substance over style” (Beastly film). The director is able to convey this message through the use of emotions. Special effects are used to portray the beast and he actually looks kind of scary, but the audience might feel sympathy for him because he is all alone after he becomes a beast. According to Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters in Everything’s an Argument, “emotional appeals” help to make the “logical claims stronger or more memorable” (46). Even his own father abandons him, since looks are very important to him.
Even though this movie had a strong, positive message, a problematic message also exists in it. The film is trying to convey that looks should not matter, but there is contradiction with this message, especially when the movie depicts numerous billboards of skinny and muscular men and women. That is not how people actually appear in society, and I think it is sending the wrong message to the audience subliminally. Also, the film left an unresolved conflict. It is evident throughout the film that the father values appearances. He also tells his son that “people like it when you look good.” The fact that the father acted so unsupportively after he discovered his son turned into a hideous looking person, really stood out to me. Seeing as how this film is targeted to teenagers, their parents are the most important people in their life. In this movie, the father gets his son an apartment, where he can live privately, so that people will not get into his business or stare at him. He tells him he will live there too and he just needs to bring his stuff there, but when he leaves, he never comes to visit his son throughout the whole movie. His son is always waiting for him. This gives a negative message to kids because the movie shows that the father does not love his son unconditionally. His father was also quick to suggest surgery, at any cost, to get his son normal again. This also seemed wrong to me, because instead of appreciating that his son is still healthy and alive, he only cared about his appearance.
This movie was targeted to high school kids. Kids at this age undergo problems dealing with bullying by how they look. This film relates to their real life. It is a sensitive topic with the youth. The argument was somewhat effective, due to the transformation of the main character. His views change and he no longer holds the same beliefs he used to. This is done through targeting the audience’s emotions, since “strong emotion[s]” can add “energy to” the film (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters 46). However, the movie also sends subliminal negative messages because of the contradictions that can be found in the film, which takes away from the overall point of the movie.