We saw Beauty and the Beast on opening night. The movie is the live action version of the 1991 Disney cartoon. From the beginning to the final credits, it was both a tribute to the original and a beautiful stand-alone.
Belle is my favorite Disney “princess.” She’s a farm girl, daughter of an inventor (in this version, he’s an artist). She lost her mother at a young age. They are living in a small town where she is often misunderstood because she is bookish. (I love that word.) I wasn’t sure how I felt about Emma Watson being cast in the role. She’s a smart, beautiful young woman. I wasn’t sure if she could be Belle and not Hermione. She proved me wrong as she was Belle in appearance and spirit.
The cast is full of familiar favorites. They can sing and act. I know there were complaints about who played Mrs. Potts but I suppose Angela Lansbury passed up the role. A lot has been said about the Beast. No one is going to be happy when he becomes the Prince. (So everyone needs to calm down on that issue.)
Josh Gad as LeFou steals every scene where he is featured. He hams it up yet adds a human element to that character. He is a buffoon and a villain, though not as half as mean-spirited as Gaston. In this version, LeFou adds some camp to the film.
Music and additional scenes
I’m grateful didn’t have to listen to Ariana Grande and John Legend sing. (MAC makeup and sleek high pony aside, the girl just doesn’t do it for me. Be mad!) Nothing against John Legend but he’s no Peabo Bryson. As for the new songs which have received mixed reviews, I thought they were appropriately placed into the plot.
I cried through the whole movie. I started during “Good Day” through “Beauty and the Beast “and “Something There.” I cried the most during “Be Our Guest.” For one, it’s a Busby Berkeley-style over-the-top production number; a similar favorite is “Just Can’t Wait to be King” in The Lion King. “Be Our Guest” takes place in the enchanted castle’s dining room and kitchen. It showcases traditional French cuisine and retells the story of the servants’ enchantment. It didn’t disappoint. At one point, I tearfully looked over at M and her mouth was literally hanging open. “Be Our Guest” was one of M’s first competition dances. Aside from their cute costumes, they also had a big finish. I found myself remembering many key choreography moments from M’s dance so this added to my wistfulness.
On our way out, Rambo made mention of Belle being a victim of Stockholm syndrome. I had a smart retort since I usually don’t expect him to have a serious read on pop culture. Still, I had no problem taking M to see this film. Belle is one of the few Disney protagonists I like. Belle is a strong, smart woman. Gaston shoulda, woulda, coulda been the right match but he was truly rotten whereas the Prince undergoes an n external and internal transformation. I recommend Beauty and the Beast; bring a sense of humor and sense of wonder.