Last spring, trailers for the movie adaptation of Alex Finn’s Beastly started making the rounds, and I thought it looked like a fun girly summer movie. A guilty pleasure, mainly because of how much I love Beauty and the Beast. So I was looking forward to it. Then it was pushed back to March of this year, and I was so disappointed I’d have to wait 8 months! A couple of weeks ago, when it was finally getting close to its March 4th release, I listened to the audiobook so I’d really know the story and be able to compare.

I was a little underwhelmed.

It’s possible this is because of the sad realization that I am not a gooey, romanticizing teenager any more. The truth is, this book made me feel old. I know it’s for teens, yes, but good YA books transcend age groups. So do good adult books and even good children’s books (some picture books are far more relevant to adults than munchkins). But to me this one seemed stuck at an 8th grade fantasy level. Chris Patton did a great job with the narration given the circumstances, but it was tough material. The gorgeous, rich, popular boy at school realizes that looks aren’t everything and the only truly worthy girl is the shy, bookish one on scholarship. And they even get to live together in a 5-story Brooklyn brownstone free of parents in quite possibly the most improbable setup I’ve ever read. Ever. This is all so he can learn to feel and she can learn to see through the ugly to the beautiful soul underneath.

Are you rolling your eyes yet? Because I’m amazed I didn’t crash my car with all the time my eyes spent aimed at the heavens during my commute with this one. Obviously this is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but all it made me realize is that some fairy tales cannot be modernized. The stories are too far-fetched to be believed in this day and age. What parent turns his daughter over to a hairy monster in Brooklyn? Do news anchor fathers really make enough money to pay for swanky Manhattan apartments, lake-front summer homes, castle-sized Brooklyn brownstones, and endless credit card charges for hobbies and tutors? Shouldn’t the beast’s dad start saving for his retirement or something?

See, I’m too old.

And the movie, which I dutifully went to see last Friday afternoon on opening day, wasn’t any better. They changed some details of the story for the big screen, like changing Kyle/Adrian from a hairy beast to a veiny, tattooed option that still allows Alex Pettyfer’s hotness to shine through underneath. And thank god they did, because that boy couldn’t act his way out of a parking ticket. At least without all the hairiness he made nice scenery.

I did, however, kind of love Mary-Kate Olsen in the movie. Her appearances as the witch swinging the ugly stick were drastically reduced from the book, and that was a shame. Her life story would’ve made a much more interesting movie AND book. And I was surprised to discover that I also really like Vanessa Hudgens. She was adorable, and the few times she was able to break free from the plodding confines of the script were delightful. Neil Patrick Harris, as always, is extremely watchable. But I kept wondering what he was doing in this movie.

It’s possible that bad editing and direction are to blame for the film’s flaws, and all the performances suffered from it. If I was in junior high, this would now be my favorite movie of all time. I could overlook such things then. But now escapism needs to look like something else.