Beauty and the Beast

Last weekend my husband and I went to see “Beauty and the Beast”.

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In February of 1992 I was bitter when the animated version of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” beat out my favorite movie of all time, “Thelma & Louise”, for the fifth and final Best Pictures spot at the Academy Awards.

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However, over the years the animated “Beauty and the Beast” has become one of my all time favorite animated films. I have come to love it so much that I saw the 3-D re-release in 2012 with a friend. As  much as I love the story and pretty much anything associated with French culture the biggest reason the animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” has become such a favorite of mine are the songs, especially “Belle”. I adore “Belle” so much that one of my favorite travel memories is riding a train through the french countryside in 2012 listening to the song. No matter what I always get a little nervous when a film or TV show I love is remade and that was certainly was the case with “Beauty and the Beast”, but as Disney put together an incredible cast I found myself on board with wanting to see the movie. I actually become very, very excited to see it in the weeks immediately before its release.

I really, really liked the film. It wasn’t without its flaws but overall I think that It was a very well made film. My, small, issues with the film largely come wit the songs added for the backstory for Belle and the Beast. I think that the filmmakers did a good job of adding backstory for the characters and that part is fine but the songs that when with the backstory scenes just didn’t fit. Maybe it’s because I’m so familiar with the songs from the animated version but there was just something in the lyrics that just didn’t quite fit perfectly with the original songs. Of course, Howard Ashman was such a genius that not even the very talented Tim Rice can match him.

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In terms of the other changes I think that Luke Evans was given just a little bit more to do as Gaston than the animated Gaston had to do and that is good thing. Gaston in this version is a more flushed out villian and that adds to the drama. I think that the live action version of this story gives the story more a specific time and place which is a good addition. I’m a little bit torn on how I feel about the people in the village being so outwardly hostile towards Belle and her father rather than just perplexed by them. I also need to address the fact that it makes no sense to have people living in 18th century France speaking in English accents. Why in the world are English accents always the default for anywhere in Europe? I know that if the animated version of the film didn’t exist I wouldn’t be picking at certain things but it is what it is.

As for the performances. I love Emma Watson but I felt like despite having the perfect look for Belle she was a little bit stiff in first act of the film. It wasn’t until she is at the castle with the Beast that she seemed to settle into  the character.

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Her singing was good enough but not great. Dan Stevens is excellent as the Beast. Kevin Kline is good as Belle’s father and Luke Evans is a perfect Gaston.

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Josh Gad is oaky as LeFou, I appreciate the fact that Disney put a gay character in a movie. However, the whole “gay moment” really was nothing. LeFou is far more gay throughout the movie as he pines over Gaston than he is in the “gay moment” at the end. I also feel that Gad’s performance  is pretty one note, in a movie that is taking a cartoon and making it as real as possible it is a bit offensive to have the gay character be more of a cartoon than the straight characters (although I love that it is an out gay actor playing Gaston). There are many great actors that do voice work but my three favorite voice  performances came from Ian McKellan, Ewan McGreggor and Emma Thompson.

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“Beauty and the Beast” is really good. Is it a perfect film? No, but it’s way better than the live action version of “Cinderella” in 2015. I do recommend it for anybody who was a fan of the original animated film or the cast.

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Here is a description:

Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.

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