What have I been listening to this week? Amid the repeated requests for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme, the Hot Dog Dance, and Paw Patrol, I have managed to get some “Mommy Music” in as well, a la Beauty and the Beast!
I’ve been digging the soundtrack from the new live-action movie, especially Evermore (confession: I listen to this song repeatedly. Both the Dan Stevens version and the Josh Groban cover; both are fantastic and wonderfully emotional without being copy-cats of each other).
If you’re like me and on a too-tight-to-buy-music-budget, good news: YouTube has a playlist of the full soundtrack! You can listen by clickingthe link here.
The three prologue tracks
Days in the Sun
What are you listening to this week? Do you have a fave on this album I didn’t mention? Leave a comment and tell me about it!
Note: It took me forever to finally get to a theater and see the new Beauty and the Beast! I was blown away by the reimagining, and wanted to share my thoughts here. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want spoilers about what’s new, you probably shouldn’t read on.
Also, you may have noticed that the blog has changed. Yes, this used to be The Disney Housewife blog! I’m trying something new that I’ll explain in a later post, and I’ll keep writing a ton of Disney-related stuffs, so please keep stopping by to see what happens!
Out of the live action movies Disney has been releasing over the last several years, I’ve seen Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and Cinderella, and I have to say that the new Beauty & the Beast far surpassed the others I’d seen. Before I get into it, though, here’s my quick-takes on the previous three I’d seen:
Alice in Wonderland: Forgettable. Pretty sure I fell asleep twice, because I don’t remember the end. I love the book, and I don’t even like the animated adaption much. (Love the world and that other people love it, Hate the adaption. That’s a thing, right?)
Maleficent: I was SO looking forward to this movie, and I was rather pleased with Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Maleficent. But the overall storyline pulled a Frozen for me, aka took a turn in the middle to make an awesome villain the tragic hero. Can’t we PLEASE let the mistress of evil be, I don’t know, EVIL? It’s okay to like, and even feel sorry for, someone who hasn’t redeemed themselves by the end of a movie. (Like Dr. Horrible, everyone’s lovable villain!)
Cinderella: Cinderella is, of course, a goody-one-shoe, but that’s why we all love her. The film hilights good morals, and the movie won me over with the blue dress. Plus, even though Cindy forgives her stepfamily, her husband has the balls good judgement to exile them. Brownie points to Disney for fleshing out one of their most historically boring princes. Downside: Helena Bonham Carter as the creepiest fairy godmother no one wanted.
Now that those are off my chest… I went into Beauty and the Beast with low expectations, spending far too much of the movie thinking “Oh, they’re going to mess this scene up!”
But it was amazing!
Everything that was added or taken away was obviously given lots of loving thought, and favorite minor characters were fleshed out in a way that added to the movie without distracting from the main action.
One of my favorite things in the film was seeing the relationship between Gaston and LaFou. Everyone needs a LaFou best bro. Someone who will pay a ridiculous amount of coin to random people at the local pub just to cheer you up on a bad day. Someone who will offer you advice when you don’t necessarily want it, and someone who will tell you you’re horribly in the wrong, all while still loving you. Josh Gadd definitely impressed me with a much more thoughtful version of the endearing buffoon, one who realizes Belle’s dignity more than her suitor, and who has a conscience that guides him to realize he can’t support Gaston after he crossed too many evil lines.
And Gaston was so delightfully manipulative that I wasn’t convinced I’d dislike him much by the end of the film. In the original, Gaston is annoying and a bully, but he’s so transparent that you can’t understand why an entire village would rally with him to go attack a castle they didn’t realize was important until that day. Now he’s so good at disguising his true, vicious personality that no one, not even LaFou sees what Gaston is capable of until he’s already acting on his impulses. For the first half of the movie I kept thinking, “Gaston is too likable! How will they come back from this?” Of course, once he leaves someone to die a gruesome death because they were annoying and in his way… that did it.
But I think that’s why I liked this portrayal. Gaston actually makes the audience believe that he’s interested in Belle for more than being a pretty prize. At first he tries to relate with Belle about books, of all things. Really, truly tries. And tries to make her feel better when the townspeople are mocking her. Granted, this is all for his own ends of marriage, but he is so convincing, and so good at manipulating the entire town, that it’s scarily realistic.
With Beast, I’ll admit that I had low expectations after The Tragedy of Grand Moff Tarkin’s Face. But I was again pleasantly surprised that I never questioned whether or not Beast was real. He was just Beast.
And I love that he’s now good, and actually as nice as his staff keeps claiming he is. Beast isn’t a bully who has to be changed by a woman, he’s just battling a horrible childhood, years of depression from isolation and hopelessness, and a case of DAMMIT DON’T STEAL MY PRETTY ROSES, YOU THIEVES! (Come on, if you live in a castle and someone breaks in, protocol is that you toss people in dungeons.) He’s never truly mean to Belle, just annoyed that she’s there. He’s lost any hope that a woman would love him, so why even bother with breaking the spell?
Plus there’s the addition of Beast being literate and having a sense of humor. He’s not just won over by Belle because he’s impressed by her, they actually have things in common that they can bond over. And they even already have little inside jokes to giggle over when they’re an old married couple, like the “grow a beard” comment. #totesadorbs
And to top it off, I got a happy case of “Matthew’s back!” warm fuzzies when Beast transformed, and no one called once called him Adam. Win-win.
This version of Beauty & the Beast blew me away, but it wasn’t just seeing something I loved as a kid be performed by live people (though yes, my inner little girl squealed with delight a lot). It was seeing my favorite characters fleshed out to become more than characters with simple motivations and simple personalities, but the whole people that I grew up wanting and believing them to be.
[Note for parents: it’s a great movie even for kids, though probably not the super littles because there are a lot of intense, surprising or just darker-themed scenes, including finding out how Belle’s mom died. And for anyone worried about that hyped-up “gay moment,” it’s nothing worse than what was in the original film.]
And if you have, how could you forget this handsome fella?
Or this guy?
And are you going to completely ignore that Meg’s first “true love” dumped her for another girl after she sacrificed herself to Hades for him?
I have been trying to figure out why someone would think this. Now, if they’re saying “The first guy can turn out to be a jerk,” that’s bogus. So did Gaston, though he was more up-front about it than Hans. So was Meg’s nameless boyfriend who dumped her.
If they’re saying, “Sometimes the first guy you meet isn’t the right guy, even though he is a good guy,” then my answer is
” Hi, I’m Prince Edward, I have puffy sleeves, sing, will risk my life for you, and want to marry you.”
The only reasons I can come up with for someone to think this crazy Frozen thought is
a) they are not Disney fans, just Frozen fanatics,
b) they have jumped on the Frozen fanatic bandwagon that states “Frozen is the first Disney movie to prove that a girl doesn’t need a man to save her!” and are trying to see at what else Frozen can be first.
I’m sure you’ve seen those posts about Frozen and men. They are everywhere. “Disney finally made a movie where a girl doesn’t need rescuing!”
To which I say….
…If Kristoff didn’t give Anna a ride, she would have been wolf food.
…If Kristoff didn’t help Anna, she wouldn’t even be able to find the ice palace, let alone get to it. (Remember the sad climbing attempt, and her lack of tracking skills?)
…If Kristoff didn’t have handy rope/hook/pickaxe knowledge, Anna would have fallen to her death when being chased by Marshmallow. Granted, he only softened the eventual fall, but at least they got a little closer to the ground. Really, that was cinematic cheating, everyone should have died right there in real life.
…If Kristoff hadn’t been raised by the trolls and brought Anna to them, he never would have known that bringing her back to Arandelle was the best bet for saving her.
So don’t give me that crap.
And Elsa? Elsa couldn’t save herself. She tried and made the snowstorm worse, trapping Anna as she froze. Sure, her love melted the spell, but… that was a fluke. She didn’t know what she was doing. I love Elsa, dearly, but she’s no hero.
Really, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven prolonged Anna’s life the most. All guys, helping save her.
On top of that, the original Snow Queen story actually has a girl rescuing her one true love from the clutches of the Snow Queen, who has cursed the guy to love/follow the Snow Queen’s every whim, forgetting his lady love. The girl is entirely on her own, with little help along her journey, and actually manages to rescue the guy even when he’s on the Snow Queen’s side due to being cursed. It makes Anna’s feats look rather puny, if still adorable.
But those aren’t even the important reasons Frozen fanatics are wrong. Here are the important ones.
Remember? Pretended to be a boy, got kicked out of the army, saved China anyway, and had the EMPEROR bow to her? After her General/boyfriend said “No way I’m helping you, girl!” she snuck into the palace on a Hun hunt. Remember? No? This was mid-late 1990’s.
Sure, she was in love with John Smith, but she didn’t need him to save her. Pocahontas already had this “please don’t kill each other” and “I do what I want” attitude way before the English landed at Jamestown.
Actually, I remember this small, unimportant scene at the end where she saved his life. Totally didn’t affect the story line, though, right?
Oh yeah, mid-1990’s, almost 20 years before Frozen debuted.
Sadly, I can’t be mad at you if you don’t remember her, even though she is from one of the best. Disney. movies. EVER.
(Treasure Planet, in case you’re still lost.)
Thanks to crappy marketing, this bada$$ Disney heroine is oft forgotten. There was a moment where she needed help, but that was after getting shot while saving her crew, and she still managed to be awesome.
Lilo’s big sister! Not only was she doing her best to raise her little sister, keep a home running, and have a job, she also told her (very handsome and sweet) friend David that she didn’t have time for a relationship. She turned down his help occasionally, only accepting his help finding a job and an invite to relax with a day of surfing. She made it clear she didn’t have time for anything more, and David respected her wishes to try to do everything by herself. Heck, Nani teamed up with aliens who could have squished her in a second just to try to save her sister!
For you youngin’s who might not have seen any of the above movies because you live in a black hole with no Netflix access, you should at least have heard of Merida. It’s much more recent.
She refuses to get married because “it’s what you do,” and instead shoots for her own hand.
She learns how to be a good leader from her mother, and eventually convinces her parents to let her live her life on her own terms, bucking tradition (for the meantime) in order to grow and learn.
And can we not forget how awesome her mother is? Queen Elinor is one of my favorite Disney moms: super protective of her children, powerful in politics, and a really, really cute bear.
I could go on. Ellie from “Up” didn’t need Carl to save her from anything. In fact, you could say she saved him from living inside of a shell his entire life. And once married, they helped each other, as married people should do.
Now, Snow White. She definitely waited for her prince to fix everything. I mean, she has an entire song about it. Granted, she was mostly dead at the end of her story, so she didn’t have a choice. But she did wait around. At least she was friendly and helpful while she waited.
Cinderella. In my experience, the one used most often as an example of “sitting around, waiting for a prince to fix everything.” Really, she was doing the best she could in the society in which she lived. She didn’t want to live on the street, so she stayed with her wicked stepmother. But she never once mentioned wanting someone to save her, or even marry a prince. She just wanted a night off to feel like a normal girl and go to a ball.
It is both incorrect and unfair to most Disney girls to say that Frozen is the first Disney film that shows the first guy isn’t always right, or that girls don’t need a man to save them. Because sometimes, girls need a guy to save them.
And sometimes, a guy needs a girl to save him.
Sometimes, people of the same gender help each other.
It’s called being a decent human being.
And a lot of the time, Disney is just sticking to the original story, which involves a prince saving someone. So blame the Brothers Grimm, if you must blame someone.
Or maybe just appreciate human beings helping other human beings. That’s what we are supposed to do with our time here. So, thank you, Disney, for showing that it goes both ways, for many years.
And for those of you who are still stuck on “Frozen is the first!”?