“Tale as old as time.” Beauty and the Beast has been retold several times over. But not quite like this. In modern retelling of another classic tale (“Re-Tale-ing” seems to be the pattern for Hollywood over the past 6 months. See Gnomeo & Juliet, Red Riding Hood, Gulliver’s Travels, Tangled, and more to come undoubtedly), Beastly gives us the “What ifs” of the tale of Beauty and the Beast in the modern day setting of New York City.
Starring Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Beastly can only be viewed one of two ways: 1- “Love it!” A great retelling of a childhood favorite that entertains and tugs at the heart; or 2- “Leave it!” A rather formulaic and boring attempt to fix a tale that isn’t broken. No need to reinvent the wheel. Should have left well-enough alone with Disney!
That’s it! There truly is no in-between for this one. I could almost end the review right there! You will either plead its case to “Love it” or warn others to “Leave it!” But, you know that I cannot leave you hanging! So, here’s a vid featuring my friend Casey Messer from ReelzChannel’s First Fans and her interviewees’ thoughts after their midnight preview of Beastly followed by a few thoughts of my own!
For the purists of the classic tale, or those who only know and love Disney’s musical rendition, Beastly cannot stand up to the “originals.” Throughout the mix of cheesy special effects and cookie-cutter acting from Pettyfer, Hudgens, and Mary-Kate Olsen, shines a few glimmers of light…only a few. Unfortunately, the viewer is stuck straining to look for differences and those few glimmers of light because we all already know how events transpire and how it is going to end. (Possible boredom alert!) 🙂 Since Beastly rests in the shadow of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it relies deeply upon the emotions of the animated classic and rides its coat-tails through the entire showing. Many of the parts that evoke laughter will indubitably remind viewers of nothing less than scenes in the animated classic. A strength? possibly. A copout? absolutely. I had hoped for the film to branch out from its predecessors with the main story and invent itself anew. Many times my friend, Shorty Magordy, and I looked at each other and pointed out where certain scenes and people were EXACTLY like what was seen in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast rather than drawing from the original tale itself and making it their own….much like Disney did.
The one thing, rather…the one person, that saves this entire film from being a complete flop is Neil Patrick Harris. His character was new, refreshing, and a bit unexpected! The comic relief and mentorship he brings to the film adds a great amount of new-ness and character development/inspiration. It is interesting to note that he wore opague contact lenses in order to be truly sightless in the film (according to imdb)! Adds a whole new sense of respect for him as you watch him throw darts in the movie! I’m also glad to say that Harris carried the movie, due to the fact that he represents my state! Born and raised in NM! Way to go Neil!! Anyways, the rest of the cast still have a lot of work to do. Realize that Beastly was pushed back from Summer 2010 to March 2011, so the actors have hopefully matured in their skill. We will see Vanessa Hudgens in Sucker Punch rather quickly! As for Mary-Kate Olsen….I’m fine if she’s not in movies any longer.
Overall, Beastly could have been so much more than it was. For a retelling there have been better ones made. The teens and “tweens” will love seeing Alex Pettyfer with his shirt off, no doubt. The guys will enjoy Neil Patrick Harris’s witty banter. But in the end, Beastly is, at most, a rental. It’s a Beast of a Feat to sit through it all, but if you go, you will sit through it all just to see how he transforms at the end! “Will it be like the cartoon? Will it be like Shrek? Will there be epic fanfare music playing in the background? How will they do it??” (Come on, that’s not a spoiler…we ALL know the story of Beauty and the Beast!)
When it comes to Beastly, there truly is “something there that wasn’t there before”: a lack of an overall good movie and storytelling. The moral of the story’s line is blurred in the fact that the witch (Mary-Kate) seeks to prove that there is beauty and good even in the ugly….but she herself presents very little good at all. Maybe she was the beast instead that was in need of transformation as well. hmmmm.
Well, Thanks for reading!
Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy Watching!
–TheSp1der’s Score: 1 out of 5 stars for “Beastly” I say “Leave it!”