At The Movies: Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s new “Beauty and the Beast” is a lavish, lovely, expertly crafted movie with a first-rate cast, glorious music, imaginative set designs, enchanted special effects and lovely costumes.

All that talent, for something so utterly pointless.

Does the world really need a remake of “Beauty and the Beast?” Disney’s 1991 animated feature was near-perfect and the pinnacle of the company’s long string of great movie musicals. It even scored an Oscar nomination for Best Picture — not Best Animated Picture — we’re talking the real deal.

But memories are short, and after all it’s been 26 years, and it’s not like you can find the original at the library or on DVD. And there’s probably a lot of money to be made, and besides, Ian McKellen needs a job.

new-beauty-and-the-beast-poster-features-full-castYou know the story, right? Belle (Emma Watson) is a bookworm living in a small, provincial village with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). Handsome, arrogant buffoon Gaston (Luke Evans) wants to marry Belle but she’s not interested. Gaston hangs out with his gay sidekick, LeFou (Josh Gad). LeFou being gay is apparently shocking to some people — people who didn’t see the original, I guess.

Somewhere outside of town there is a hidden castle, owned by a former prince who was cursed into beasthood by an enchantress. The Beast (Dan Stevens) could break the spell if he could find true love — but time is running out. The same spell that turned the prince into an upright horned buffalo also turned all his servants into household appliances and whatnot — Lumiere the candelabra (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth the clock (Ian McKellan), Mrs. Potts the teapot (Emma Thompson), her son Chip (Nathan Mack), Maestro Cadenza the harpsichord (Stanley Tucci), Madame de Garderobe the dresser (Audra McDonald) and Plumette the feather duster (Gugu Mbatha).

 

Belle winds up the Beast’s prisoner and eventually falls victim to love — or Stockholm Syndrome — but that’s not very romantic. Will this odd couple become a true couple in time to break the curse?  You know the story, right?

Like I said, “Beauty and the Beast” has first-rate production values and an A-list cast and all the movie magic Disney can pour into it. Three new songs have been added to the production but they don’t add anything special — you’re still going to walk out singing “Be Our Guest.”  They also tacked on some back story, although I don’t see how adding the Black Death to the tale improves it.

Anyway, if you loved the original “Beauty and the Beast” and always wished you could see it with live human beings and CGI characters, then you will probably enjoy this. It may be pointless but it’s still pretty good.

 

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