Beauty and the Beast (2017) Parent Review
The visual spectacle of this live-action remake of the 1991 animation is sure to shake out a few new dollars for Disney Studios.
No one takes recycling as seriously as Disney when it comes to reusing a previously successful script as a second chance to make money. The studio has a long history of spin-offs and sequels from former hits and has recently seen great success with the idea of creating live-action versions of past animations (Cinderella 2015 and The Jungle Book 2016).
Based on the now classic Beauty and the Beast from 1991, director Bill Condon pulls out all the stops with this animation-to-live-action conversion. Those who have watched and re-watched his source material will have no problem picking out the familiar storyline and famous songs amid the lavish sets, amazing costumes and reimagined production numbers.
As expected, the story follows Belle (played by Emma Watson), a young bookish woman who doesn’t quite fit in with the others living in her French provincial town. Despite being called odd and becoming the object of some abuse, Belle’s good looks and the romantic challenge she presents still attract the attention of the village’s most eligible bachelor Gaston (Luke Evans). When she declines his proposal, preferring reading to marrying him, she awakens the fury of an ego scorned.
Meanwhile Belle’s father Maurice (Kevin Kline) stumbles upon a forbidden fortress in the forest where he unwittingly becomes the prisoner of its master, a terrifying Beast (Dan Stevens). When the devoted daughter discovers the situation, she selflessly offers to take his place. After the switch is accepted by the cruel creature, Maurice uses his freedom to try and round up a rescue party even though his pleas for help are met by mocking and scorn.
Unbeknownst to the grieving Dad, life within the stone walls proves better for Belle than it at first appeared. And the presence of the beautiful stranger brings hope to the other residents of the enchanted castle who are also held captive by a magical curse. But before the spell can be broken some hard hearts must first be softened.
This remake adds a few embellishments to the original plot, including some insights into the characters’ backstories, along with extra songs. Belle is endowed with a more feminist attitude, that is expressed in her love of literacy, defiance of convention and courage in the face of fearful circumstances. And Gaston’s sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) is depicted as effeminate, as well as briefly shown dancing with another man. (The script’s hints about his same-gender attraction led to some real-life controversy for the film.)
These alterations may alarm family audiences, even though the portrayals are subtle. In truth, most youngsters are less likely to notice Condon’s admitted agenda than they are to be scared by the violence shown here. Belle and her father have encounters with some ravenous wolves that eventually lead to attacks and injuries. A mob gathers after the locals learn of their horned and hairy neighbor, and the fighting and property damage that erupt look a lot more alarming with people battling furniture and crockery than they did when it was just cartoon drawings. Gaston’s evil intentions for the Beast feature weapons use and a chase across rooftops that are more realistic and disturbing too.
Because of this, the movie is likely best suited for older children and adults. Those who are fans of the 1991 film will appreciate the way this production pays homage to the sentimentality they undoubtedly will be bringing along with them. This visual spectacle is sure to shake out a few more dollars for the studio, even if the 2017 version of the fairytale expands the message of looking for inner beauty and having empathy toward those who are different into broader territory.Directed by Bill Condon. Starring Dan Stevens, Emma Watson, Luke Evans . Running time: 129 minutes. Theatrical release March 17, 2017. Updated May 24, 2017
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Beauty and the Beast (2017) here.
Beauty and the Beast (2017) Parents Guide
Reading and education are an important part of Belle’s life. How do other people in the village view her focus on books? Does their bullying and peer pressure alter her behavior? Have you experienced teasing or persecution about things you believe in or like to do? What is the best way to handle this?
In this movie we learn more about Beast and Belle’s childhood. What do they have in common? How are they different? What action by Belle or Beast leads to a change in the way they feel about each other? How might compassion and empathy affect the way you feel about another person?