Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on a project related to Beauty and the Beast. (More on that later in this post.) As I prepared to watch the live-action Disney movie last week, I realized that even though I’ve been immersed in all things fairy tale and beauties and beasts, I hadn’t actually watched the 1991 animated version recently. It’s my very favorite of all the princess movies, but because my oldest daughter doesn’t share that love I hadn’t pulled it out in quite a while.
BELIEVE ME, I have TRIED to win her over to the Beauty and the Beast side! I have! I’ve pointed out how smart and strong and brave and kind Belle is, and I’ve sung all my favorite songs from the movie in an effort to get them stuck in her head. Alas, she gets hung up on the intense scenes with the Beast, the parts that scared her as a little girl and keep her from joining me in my devotion to all things Beauty and the Beast.
Luckily, my youngest is as enamored with Belle and the Beast and all their friends as I am. She’s been watching the animated movie from the 90s at her babysitter’s house, and she asks me daily to watch trailers for the new Beauty and the Beast movie. It’s just about the cutest thing when she says, so happy, “The Beast is nice now, Mommy!”
This is why I didn’t dare tell either one of my daughters that I went to an early screening of the movie last week without them!
After dropping off our kids at school and daycare, my friend Kate and I met up at the movie theater. I tried to play it cool, act like a grown-up and all — but I couldn’t stop my grin. I was almost giddy with excitement to see this movie!
And it did not disappoint.
The new, live-action Beauty and the Beast movie is fantastic. The casting, the costumes, the songs — all of it was pitch perfect and left me grinning even bigger than before the movie began. We even sat through the credits at the end, as I thought to myself, I can’t wait to watch it again!
If you’re a fan of the animated Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, you’ll be glad to know that the new movie stays true to its inspiration. A large portion of the dialogue and soundtrack is exactly the same, word for word, note for note. However, if you’re hoping for updated versions of your favorite songs, you’ll get them — and they are similar enough to be nostalgic while different enough to feel fresh and interesting. As Belle, Emma Watson changes up the rhythm of some of her songs, but not enough to keep me from singing along (in my head…since I was not alone in that theater). And the Gaston song now features a brief dance sequence that left me sitting on my hands so I wouldn’t clap along.
I know I’m gushing, you guys, but I can’t help it. I loved this movie!
While traditionalists will be glad to hear familiar lines throughout the movie, those hoping for a bit more innovation will appreciate the new songs that have been added and a few extra scenes that expound on a few aspects of the story.
Though I knew the movie wouldn’t be a frame-by-frame replica of the animated version, I have to admit I wasn’t really interested in any new songs. It’s kind of like when I go to a concert. I don’t want to hear a band’s newest or most obscure songs; I want to hear the hits — the ones overplayed on the radio, the ones I have memorized start to finish, the ones that made me fall in love with the artist in the first place.
That’s the mindset I had going into Beauty and the Beast, which is why I was surprised to not hate the new songs. I can’t say yet that I loved them, but I didn’t mind them at all. They didn’t seem out of place or overly long, and I am actually looking forward to hearing them again. (Especially the song that the Beast sings. I tried to think of a better word to describe his voice, because I do have some pride. But I just can’t deny it. His voice is dreamy.)
That brings me to the casting and the acting. For the most part, it was all outstanding. As news of the upcoming movie trickled out this past year, I read quite a few criticisms of the choice of Emma Watson to play Belle. I probably wouldn’t have picked her myself, but I didn’t mind her. In the beginning I felt a bit like I was watching Emma Watson play a part (her tendency to smirk may have contributed to this impression), but it didn’t take long for me to be immersed in the movie and her character.
Luke Evans as Gaston was really good, playing the arrogant buffoon a bit tongue-in-cheek and then surprising us with his turn toward cruelty and violence in the end. He was believable in all acts, and I found myself despising him in the end as much as I was amused by him in the beginning. Josh Gad is a perfect choice for Lefou and he played him silly but sincere (and made me laugh more than once). I didn’t realize until the end credits that Belle’s father was played by Kevin Kline, but regardless of my name-that-actor failure, he did a great job. In the animated movie, Maurice seems pretty dumb (though loving). He’s much more thoughtful and gets a deeper backstory in this version, all of which made me appreciate his role in the story so much more.
The castle’s enchanted staff were just as charming and entertaining in this movie as in the original, and I was so enchanted myself that I had to stare…and blink…and stare at the credits to realize who played each character. The CGI furniture was my biggest concern going into the movie, but I shouldn’t have worried. They were so well done (and well acted) that I completely forgot they weren’t real.
Should you see this movie?
Yes! I highly recommend seeing this movie, whether you’re a crazy fan like me who literally has almost the entire script and score of the animated movie memorized or you’re simply a normal fan who appreciates a good fairy tale (or Disney princesses). The entire thing feels magical and pitched just high enough to be delightful but not manic. The extra 45 minutes are just enough to fill out the story line and to allow the characters more room to tell their stories in both song and speech.
Should you take your kids to see this movie?
It depends. As much as I want to see this movie in the theater again, I will probably wait for the DVD before showing it to my girls. My oldest is actually more sensitive to intense scenes than my youngest (she also comprehends more, which largely accounts for that difference), so I thought about taking my youngest. But I think the scenes with the wolves are a bit too long for her to handle.
Nothing in this movie is any more violent (or more anything) than the animated version, but seeing things in live action feels different than it does when it’s a cartoon and obviously not real. So the wolves seem scarier, the attack on the castle seems more sinister, and the incredible details of everything from scenery to costumes to facial expressions on the extras in the background feel a bit more overwhelming. If your kids are sensitive to any of these things, it might be better to wait on this movie.
That being said, I left feeling that rather than this being “a grown-up version of Beauty and the Beast,” this was a live-action version of the cartoon movie. I think my girls will love it when we watch it at home, and I think older elementary kids and beyond will love it if you see it on the big screen.
I was given complimentary tickets to an early screening of this movie by Allied Integrated Marketing, but (as always) all opinions here are my own and sincere. I really did love it that much.
Now, if you’ve read this far, you are likely a true fan of all things Beauty and the Beast. So I hope you’ll be excited to hear what I’ve been working on! I’m excited (and, let’s be real, nervous!) to announce that I have written a devotional inspired by Beauty and the Beast.
Tales as Old as Time: Lessons on God’s Love Inspired by Beauty & the Beast is a short devotional inspired by Beauty and the Beast. The theme of this fairy tale is to find beauty within — and that’s what I’ve done with this book. I took well-known (and well-loved) parts of Beauty and the Beast and looked deeper to find the God story that was hiding underneath. In many cases the Truth was barely hiding at all and so clear as soon as I took a second look! (I won’t lie; it reminded me every time of Belle singing, “I wonder why I didn’t see it there before,” as she and the Beast played in the snow, fed the birds, and slurped soup.)
Tales as Old as Time is available for pre-order at Amazon right now! It is $4.99, and it will be released next Tuesday, March 14. Click here to pre-order your copy now.
Everyone who pre-orders the book will receive a gorgeous, downloadable coloring sheet and a Tales as Old as Time lock screen for your phone. Simply email proof of your order to marycarver [at] gmail.com.