Then vs. Now: Beauty and the Beast

Released 11/22/1991                              Rated: G

It should come as no surprise that I am a Disney kid. And I don’t just mean that I’ve them all; I mean I watched them on repeat throughout my childhood, and know most of these movies by heart. I haven’t seen The Little Mermaid in probably fifteen years, but my friend’s daughter wanted to watch it when they came over recently, so we put it on. Merely hearing the audio through the walls (because sound carries so well in my house) it was like I was a child again. I could picture every scene so clearly in my head. It’s almost scary.

Beauty and the Beast is amazing and timeless. It’s the first animated film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. It didn’t win, but it did win two Oscars for Best Original Score and Original Song. This film rightfully deserves to be called a classic. It’s perfect in every way.

Released 03/17/2017                              Rated: PG

I’m not going to lie, the first time I saw this movie I picked it apart so bad that I didn’t like it. But by a freak happenstance I ended up seeing it twice within twenty-four hours, and I ended up absolutely loving it the second time around. There are still some things that bug me, but most of them aren’t as big of a deal as before. movie is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been as swept away by a film, or at least not in a while. This world of magic and wonder and love has stayed with me way passed leaving the theater. We’re talking days. Everybody did such a great job. LeFou and Gaston are probably my favorite, and I think it’s because this movie fleshed out their characters a little more, and most of their scenes weren’t recreated straight from the animated version. Josh Gad and Luke Evans were both perfect, these roles were made for them, and they delivered better than I ever would have thought possible. Gaston isn’t just an excellent hunter and somewhat-brainless town hunk; he was a Captain in the war, which seems to have given him some anger issues. The only thing I would have liked is to see more of his pursuit of Belle and how they clash as a romantic duo. And LeFou as the comic relief gave us some of the best lines of this whole film; they still tickle me to death. “It’s never going to happen, ladies.”

And on a side note, for all of you out there getting all up in arms about there being a gay character: calm the fuck down. This is a Disney movie. There’s nothing explicit on screen or even hinted at. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, that was never a possibility. Again, I reiterate, this is a Disney movie.

My main problem with this movie is Lumiere and Mrs. Potts. While I don’t really care for how either were designed, I can’t take their voices. And it doesn’t make sense! It’s Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson! I don’t know what they were going for, Lumiere’s the only one with a French accent, but they don’t fit. I can get past it, but I still don’t like it. And Emma Thompson voices the prologue in the beginning which feels more like it’s being read than telling a story. Whoever voiced it in the animated version was perfect. The enunciation and pauses in the story convey the right weight and draw your attention to certain details, which in turn sets the tone for the rest of the film. We didn’t quite get that level of importance here, and it’s a shame.

There are times when it feels like the actors are merely reading their lines, like they’t find the drive of their character to meaningfully say what they need to. For example, the shouting match between Beast and Belle after the wolf attack, or Gaston inciting the townspeople to storm the castle. I don’t feel the passion and conviction behind these moments, and I honestly think it’s because the dialogue is lifted straight from the animated version. This is the main issue I had throughout most of my first time through; now only certain scenes bother me. That’s one thing The Jungle Book did right; they didn’t recreate shot for shot, they told the story afresh and changed it up a little. That’s what they should have done here. Don’t copy, retell.

Everything else is minor. I wish there was more of Dan Stevens as the prince (after the curse). My husband and I just discovered him in the show Legion, and it’s the only reason I’m dragging him to see this movie. It conveniently takes Belle not even five minutes from the time she sees her father resisting getting dragged from the tavern in the mirror, to her arriving as they lock him in the wagon to cart him off to the mental institution. The images projected in the mirror are roughly the size of a Post-it note, so I don’t believe anyone can accurately see the Beast when Gaston is trying to stir up the town. Stanley Tucci was underused, and I couldn’t even tell it was him until the end credits. And “Be Our Guest” was my least favorite moment of the film. on the plus side, I LOVE how they made the Beast Belle’s equal when it came to books, even if he dismissed it as nothing more than “an expensive education” at first. They have a common ground, which is important when building any kind of relationship. From that point on, they’re always reading. And then they start talking, and learning about each other, and they form a bond that grows with each day.

Despite all my nitpicking, I do like this movie. I’m already planning two more trips to the theater to see it. I may have a problem. LOL!

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