The live-action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was a momentous occasion in my life. Twenty-six years prior to its release, my mother had taken me to see the animated version and since that day it became my favorite Disney movie of all time. (Pushing right past The Little Mermaid, which I’d become so obsessed with a couple of years before, I’d begged my mom to change my name to Ariel for months.) So when I decided to take my mom to see the new one twenty-six years later, it dawned on me how, in a way, we had come full-circle. I then became rather emotional. Granted, I had three glasses of wine in me when this realization hit so, one could argue that the momentousness of an occasion expands depending on my intake of alcohol. (I promise to experiment with this soon and let you guys know my findings. #ForScience)
I love Disney movies. In my thirty-something years on this planet, I still watch them regularly and will even go as far as to admit that sometimes I put them on before I go to sleep because they help me feel safe. So, for me to say that Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite movie of all time is making a big statement, since it’s not always easy for me to decide which ones I love more. But Beauty and the Beast has remained indisputably at the top of that list and will likely remain so for many years to come. So, whether Disney realized it or not, I was going to have their heads if they messed this up for me.
Without further ado, here are 10 things I loved and hated about the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake:
- Emma Watson’s Acting
When they first announced that Emma Watson would be playing Belle, alarms went off in my head. Now, I’m a HARDCORE, OBSESSED, Can-And-Will-Talk-About-Harry-Potter-24/7, Believes-Hogwarts-Is-Real Harry Potter fan. But a fan of Emma Watson’s acting? Not so much.
I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but that doesn’t erase the fact that her eyebrows do 80% of the work. I can see her thought process on her face as she‘s portraying a character. It takes me out of the zone, puts me in the audience seat and I remember once more that I’m not an invisible spectator in this temporary world I’ve stepped into, but a real-life one, with bills to pay and taxes to file and dammit, Emma, why are you reminding me that I have to file my taxes?
If you ask me, I think the decision in casting Emma Watson for the role of Belle has more to do with what she represents than what she can actually do as an actress. And being an international icon of feminism (especially at such a young age) is no small feat. Emma’s great at many things but acting is not top on that list. Her singing was acceptable, but I say that keeping in mind that she was auto-tuned. As for her acting, while it wasn’t an Oscar-winning performance, at least it was the most tolerable of all the movies I’ve seen her in since Deathly Hallows (because, for real, let’s not even talk about Goblet of Fire). But then again that could be due to my low expectations. I walked into the theater reciting a mantra of “do not let it get to you” and in the end there was so much more going on with this film (right down to the kid who consistently kicked the back of my chair for the first 45 minutes) to care too much about Emma’s less-than-perfect acting.
- Not Enough Dan Stevens (but how much Dan Stevens in enough Dan Stevens, though? The limit does not exist.)
If you have a crush on Dan Stevens after watching this movie raise your hand. I mean, he was absolutely lovable in Downton Abbey (and I can’t be the only one who thought he was way too good for Mary Crawley). But Dan Stevens as Prince Adam is all a girl could ever ask for. He is a treasure and I’m only sorry that we didn’t get to see more of him as Prince Adam, without all the makeup and CGI of the Beast. Granted, he still gave an impeccable performance through his disguise. (Although, Dan Stevens in his Beast get-up does also give you things to fan yourself about—don’t judge me; I know I wasn’t the only one!)
- Developed Background Stories
The only thing the animated version was ever lacking was a better explanation as to why the Beast was such a little prick and why and how did Belle and her father move to such a shitty town and then continue to live there even after everyone ostracized them. This version, with the extra running time that the animated version didn’t allot, gets the chance to give us some insight as to why these characters we love so much have made such poor decisions at the beginning of the story.
- LeFou and Gaston Steal The Show
In the animated version, Gaston is a true villain and LeFou is his “Yes Man.” In the live-action remake, they play off of each other and add a dimension of humor that wasn’t missing from the animated, but which is definitely welcomed in this remake. Gaston remains the main villain, but he and LeFou bring a level of comedic depth to this film that would otherwise leave it feeling kind of sappy and lame.
- More Diversity/Inclusion
So it’s 2017 and the people who care about progress on earth have been really taking into consideration the representation of minorities on the screen. The new Beauty and the Beast live-action remake remembers to include people of color, people in interracial relationships and people with LBGTQ orientation by adding characters with these characteristics. When I personally heard that LeFou would be the first openly gay character of Disney, I thought, “OMG, YES, OF COURSE! How didn’t I see this before?” I think it’s an addition that suits his character and I’m glad more large enterprises are hopping on board on the inclusivity train.
- New Songs
The new movie tweaks the old songs just a tad and adds three new songs to the film, giving the Beast a chance to stretch his singing muscle. In some remakes, some new songs can feel out of place or leave us feeling like “if it’s not baroque, don’t fix it!” But the new additions fit in well and that’s probably because they brought in Alan Menken and Tim Rice, the celestial duo who knows the musical heart of this film better than anyone else could.
- The Growl
If that growl Prince Adam gives Belle during the final scene of the movie didn’t reawaken you sexually, then you need to go back and watch it again. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
- LeFou’s Turnaround
LeFou is a likable character. Even in the animated version, you enjoy watching him even though you know he’s one of the bad guys. He brings much of the comedy to the story and it was gratifying to see him be allowed a chance for redemption.
- Mrs. Potts and Chip’s CGI
Maybe I’m just being picky now, but I wish they’d done something else with Mrs. Potts and Chip. This painted-on thing they did felt a bit cheap and unimaginative. Would it really have looked so weird to make them a bit more 3D? I understand that they wanted to keep it as realistic-looking as possible, but with a team of what I’m sure are some of the world’s best designers, if that’s the best they could come up with, then I believe they were probably overpaid. #SorryNotSorry
- Prince Adam’s Unsexy Hair
Let’s talk about the transformation scene for a moment. So, in the cartoon, Prince Adam is sexy and he has sexy flowing golden locks. Now, in the live-action remake, Dan Stevens is sexy and has a blonde soccer mom bobbed wig? Did Gaston hand him that hair?? Costume and style department, YOU HAD ONE JOB: MAKE PRINCE ADAM SEXY. Please send that wig back to Kristen Wiig; she needs it to play The Target Lady.
Also, according to the interviews I’ve watched online, I was promised a naked Prince Adam rising from a bed of roses for the transformation scene. Now, I want what I was promised at least in the deleted scenes of the DVD or I will–I will, uh, well, I’ll throw a tantrum and whine and moan and complain and my husband will have to deal with it and he’s a really nice guy who shouldn’t have to deal with that and are you willing to let an innocent man take the hit for your mistakes, Disney? Doesn’t seem like your style. Fix it!
Overall, the live-action remake of my all-time favorite Disney movie did not disappoint. Though it’s not my favorite live-action film by far and it certainly cannot take the place of the animated version, it was executed with much palpable care and devotion. It’s definitely a feast for the eyes (although, anything containing Dan Stevens in it surely is), and though I’ve read some reviews online referring to this film as unnecessary, I have to ask—is any movie really necessary? One could argue that none really are. Cavemen survived years without watching a single movie. (And yet even they found a way of etching pictures on walls to tell stories.)
While Beauty and the Beast may just be another glitzy, shiny blockbuster, all it really does is entertain. But maybe sometimes that’s all we need—just to be entertained. Some things we watch are just like that flashy statement necklace, those long acrylic nails that foil your every task (can’t even curl your fist to yell “CURSES!”), or those designer shades that you wear even on overcast days because you need to make every cent you spent on them count. Even then, if you pay close attention there’s a message there: the true beauty of things lie at their core and in their hearts and not in what your eyes can see. #MicDrop Mia Out.