Cannon Movie Tales: Beauty and The Beast
uneven acting and a cast of players who don’t seem entirely sure of their characters give this film the feeling of community theatre.
Rebecca DeMornay is Beauty, a young woman with a pack of needy siblings (who all look to be in their 40s) and a childlike father (who looks like someone’s sweaty uncle at a barbecue) spends all of her time tending to others, and sing-complaining (it’s a musical, but really shouldn’t be). After a series of financial disasters, her father sets out to attempt to reverse their fortunes. Upon his arrival at the Beast’s castle (which boasts a fog machines and a robot bird, just for the hell of it) the father, an indulgent whiner, quickly jumps to the conclusion that the whole shebang is intended for him. Of course, he crosses the Beast and in a few days time is back to deliver Beauty into The Beast’s hands (no one puts up much of a fuss).
Beauty is a wispy, whispery blonde who wavers between painfully servile and strangely saucy. She trots after her Dream Prince promising to make him happy, but can’t seem to decide whether to be simpering or condescending with her beastly suitor.
The Beast lurks around the fringes of the film, engaging Beauty at dinner in her room each night, but otherwise keeping to the ramparts or his throne in the fog-machine-chamber. He seems to have the ability to hear and grant wishes, bringing Beauty’s paintings and uh…robot birds and pop-and-locking statuary…to life. The Beast’s acting is more even than the rest of the cast. He’s not especially remarkable, but his costume (codpiece!) and makeup serve well enough.
The loveliest sequence of the film by far is a short duet in which Beauty fantasizes about dancing with the Prince, and The Beast, alone in his fog chamber, imagines dancing with her…. The songs are simplistic and don’t do much to move the story along. Worse, only John Savage as The Beast is a strong enough singer to carry any of the songs. DeMornay’s Beauty is especially weak.
Overall, it’s a very light adaptation with a few charming effects, heavy-handed writing, uneven acting, and some singing that really shouldn’t be there. Savage is clearly much happier in Beast makeup than he is as chunky prince in tights (“what? You mean I have to kiss a girl?Gross gross gross!”) and DeMornay…Well, she tries, but the girl just can’t sing.