Those who are fans of Jamie McGuire’s book, which Beautiful Disaster is adapted from, won’t enjoy the film too much. The details I remember from the book are a little fuzzy, since I read it more than 10 years ago, but I definitely recall more angst and brooding bad boy. Roger Kumble’s film is a decidedly different product, which is a good thing. Kumble, who directed movies like Cruel Intentions and Just Friends, knows how to craft an entertaining film.
The film follows Abby (Ginny Gardner), who’s decided to cut her dad Mick (played by Brian Austin Green, who basically sleepwalks through the film) out of her life, leaving him behind as she heads off to college. Abby is a poker prodigy, and spent so much of her childhood bailing Mick out of various situations. Now all she wants is a clean slate and fresh beginning. She gets invited to an underground fight her first day at college, and that’s where she meets Travis (Dylan Sprouse), nicknamed Mad Dog Maddox. His flying kicks and strong build piques her interest, and it appears she’s piqued his interest too. The thing is, Abby’s had enough trouble in her life because of Mick, and tries to stay away from Travis because she thinks he’ll bring chaos into her life.
Travis, who has no issue getting any woman he wants, can’t understand why Abby won’t fall at his feet. So he makes a bet with her: If he loses he has to be abstinent for 3 months, and if she loses, then she needs to stay with him for one month. For the sake of the story, obviously she has to lose, and the pair begin to live together and eventually fall in love.
Why do they fall in love? In the words of Avril Lavigne, he was a boy, she was a girl, and that’s all you need for love to blossom sometimes – I jest, we need more than that. While we understand that they’re attracted to each other, there isn’t a clear sense of why they fall in love with each other later on. Their days together are mostly time lapsed away, and even the one date they have is brief. Also, both characters don’t have much of an arc, with the main goal of the story really just their coupling.
If the characters are barely developed, and the plot practically non-existent, why did I enjoy this movie? The film works as entertaining garbage mainly because of Gardner and Sprouse. They have good comedic timing, and commit wholeheartedly to the campy aspects of the film. It’s fun watching them spar on screen together, and get into all these ridiculous situations. Casting Sprouse as the bad boy on campus is an unusual choice, but hey, he made it work, and Gardner is just vivaciously delightful. The film doesn’t have grand aspirations, it knows its objective is to entertain and just offer viewers a fun time, and for the most part it does succeed.
If you’re a serious fan of the book, then maybe skip the movie, because you will surely be disappointed. But if you just want to laugh and have a good time, Beautiful Disaster will suffice.
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Beautiful Disaster is the movie version of junk food. You know it's no good for you, but it tastes decent enough, so you sit back and enjoy the show.
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