Click here to read my autism lesson on this movie.
It’s been a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme… Beauty and the Beast. It was one of the animated instant classics to trigger the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, defined an entire generation of Disney fans, set off some of the most iconic songs ever to grace the screen, was honored in several lists by the American Film Institute, was preserved in the National Film Registry the second year it was eligible (which is a huge deal), and was the first animated film in history to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
So no pressure or anything in remaking it, right?
Many of us were worried that this remake would just be a line-for-line remake of the original, but thankfully it’s not. Several updates to the story are actually a strong improvement to fill in the problems with the original. The whole village’s memory of the castle is erased by the enchantress, a contrast made much more blaring by a cursed eternal winter in the castle’s borders even while summer goes on in the village.
Belle’s father Maurice also has a more complex subplot that actively engages both Gaston and LeFou, and he is motivated by his collection of homemade paintings and inventions used to memorialize his family legacy. This includes a backstory on Belle’s mother, even if it adds virtually nothing to the plot.
Other minor details are added to motivate Belle further, such as teaching a younger village girl to read, only to be condemned by others in the village. The parents will also enjoy this little detail: Gaston is a former war hero, which gives his musical number a whole new flavor. They also would find this new take on the Beast somewhat compelling: he doesn’t even try to treat Belle decently as she first comes into the castle. He just keeps her in the prison, only to be moved into an appropriate bedroom without his consent or knowledge.
There are plenty of other small plot holes from the original that are explained here, as the characters make it blatantly clear. What I mean is, it is done like this: one character asks a question we all asked about the original, then another character simply answers the question. Then the plot moves on as if nothing happened. So no high-class writing to be found here.
Although when taking the whole sum of the product into consideration, the elements that remain the same compared to the original fall way, way short. The director of this live action adaptation, Bill Condon, who directed Dreamgirls and wrote the screenplay for Chicago, would presumably know all about how to do a musical properly. Although his skill is screaming to get out this time around, as nothing commands our sorrow for his reimagining of the beloved characters. With the exception of “Be Our Guest,” none of the musical numbers or recreated scenes match the energy or creativity of its animated counterpart. I’m not just referring to the fact that most to everyone’s singing voices are hard on the ears, but mainly to the fact that everything is rushed, especially the scene in the West Wing.
If you think that you would feel charmed and nostalgic while watching this, sorry—not happening. Maybe it works as a plot expansion of a previously established story, but as a standalone you couldn’t help but see the flaws. Belle even looks at the Beast more like she’s scowling than like she’s captivated by him. Then with Gaston, he doesn’t feel like a jerk at all, as in his first meeting with Belle, he doesn’t chuck her book into the mud- but actually hands her flowers! Flowers! From the guy we’re supposed to hate! It’s little details like this that will halt any true joy or tears. But what else would you expect when a remake is produced by a studio that cares more about social correctness than casting actual French actors for a film set in France?
Speaking of which, you may all be wondering at this point, “what about the exclusively gay moment with LeFou? Should I worry about it harming my kids?” Well, I can tell you this: You have absolutely nothing to worry about. It’s a two second moment at the very end that is just as subtle as it is super easy to toss onto the cutting room floor. In fact, Josh Gad puts in just the right dose of humor and charm in his interpretation of LeFou, and he actually can sing pretty darn well! So you’ll end up loving his character by the end, whether or not you agree with the homosexual lifestyle.
Although if you ask me, this remake was never needed to be made. Yes, it did satisfy many of the problems that people have complained about for twenty-five years about the beloved animated classic, but it’s not like this predictable fantasy is doing anything new or risky. If anything, it’s just going to remind us of how much more moving and charming the original is, and we can sleep easy at night now knowing that some plot holes were filled without the animated film having to explain it for us.
Let’s just hope that the live action remake of Aladdin is not a total waste of everything.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Beauty and the Beast. Disney. Web. <http://movies.disney.com/beauty-and-the-beast-2017>.
Galuppo, Mia. Disney Defies Malaysia Censors, Won't Cut 'Beauty and the Beast' Gay Moment. The Hollywood Reporter. 15 Mar 2017. Web. <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/disney-wont-cut-beauty-beast-gay-moment-malaysia-censors-986609>.
The Star Online. Emma Watson addresses Vanity Fair photo controversy. Video. YouTube. 4 Mar 2017. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7OvCcxVlFo>.
Trailers & Clips. Digital image. Metacritic. Aol Inc. Web. <https://www.moviefone.com/movie/beauty-and-the-beast/20065886/main/>.