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.]