Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast - Review

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Bluedreamer2011 via Flickr, licensed cc



For months and months, my daughters have been awaiting the new release of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. We re-watched the old 1991 version a few times and they happily went around the house singing the tunes. There's a certain joy in a mother's heart in watching her 17-year-old and her 11-year-old bonding over "Be Our Guest!"

The original movie also has a fond place in my mother's heart. It was the very first movie I ever dared take one of my children too. My first born was only two years old when I took him to see Beauty and the Beast. He was so little that his little legs could hardly keep the movie theater seat from closing up on him. Yet he persevered and I can still see him mesmerized, watching the action on the big screen. It's worth noting that he was not as enamored with "Aladdin" just a few months later. For great bonding movie experiences - B & B holds a special place of honor. 

So my heart absolutely sunk when I the news of Disney's gay agenda started coming across my Facebook newsfeed. Groups were calling for a boycott, Christians were urging parents to keep away from this scourge.  I grimly shared this news with my daughters who were crestfallen - Afterall, they just wanted to see Hermione Granger  sing and dance in the arms of a big strong hero!

Friday afternoon we found ourselves at the discount movie theater in our neighborhood (all tickets $5) and the girls (including 3-year-old Miss C) sat down to watch Beauty and the Beast.

I won't recount this "Tale as Old as Time" but there will probably be some spoilers ahead.

Emma Watson was endearing as Belle. She was totally believable as a young woman bursting to get out into the world. Her vocals were surprisingly good as well - not great, but good and I didn't find myself wincing or uncomfortable. She handled the part.

The visuals were enchanting!  The "Be Our Guest number" was just as dazzling as I hoped it would be, and the ballroom number was romantic and charming. I could feel the four of us swooning with Belle and the Beast!

There was a new scene to this film at the opening, of the young prince in his pre-beast days presiding over a ball of sorts with a hall filled with beautiful young ladies. That was a nice addition visually as well.

I appreciated Disney giving us more of a back story and how they incorporated history into the movie. Belle's mother died of the plague in Paris. Gaston is back from the war (although I'm not exactly sure which of the many European wars he's back from), I'm sure anyone with a familiarity with firearms might be able to nail this story down to an actual century for us since Gaston uses a gun to shoot the Beast in the last part of the movie.

But what about the gay factor?  Is the movie immoral?

LeFou is Gaston's sidekick.  In the animated version, he's an annoying side character that most cartoons include because they're supposed to be funny. That doesn't work as well with actors, so the characterization of LeFou as slightly effeminate makes sense in this case as a motivation for his devotion to Gaston. It wasn't overt - an undertone more than flamboyance. And the big "gay moment" everyone is railing about?  Well, if I had been digging around in my purse looking for my car keys I could have missed it. It was that brief and reminded me of an old Milton Berle sketch done for laughs. I have read that Disney is trying to push the gay agenda. If that's true, they're trying to push it back to the 1960s.

I also want to mention this - LeFou is Gaston's sidekick, so for most of the movie he is on the wrong side of the moral spectrum. But by the end of the movie he has come over to the good side and even has a heroic moment, much to the relief of many in the audience who were fearing the worst for good ole Mrs. Potts!!

There was one cringy moment though - at the big reveal of the beast as the human prince, he looked much less than princely, handsome or gorgeous. The back of his head looked like a mop and his posture was awful.  Maybe this was on purpose to illustrate that an interspecies transformation is more than magic, but it was not the kind of display that would sweep many off their feet. But maybe that was the point all along- it wasn't about looks, it was about character.  By the time the cameras got to the front though, it was fine!   There was Matthew Crawley of Downton Abbey Fame! Big swoon and big kiss!

All in all, a fun movie for the family, and I unreservedly recommend it.







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