Note: This post contains spoilers for Disney's Beauty and the Beast
I've mentioned before that I love me some Disney princess movies. Despite the fact that in my real life, I'm pushing 30 and rather cynical about love stories, nothing gets me excited like princesses and fairy tales and singing and love-conquers-all Disney movies. And by far my favorite of those movies is Disney's 1991 Beauty and the Beast. And really, what's not to love? The animation is gorgeous. The songs are classic. The characters are awesome. The story is timeless (eff off, everyone who cries Stockholm Syndrome. That movie is so much more about the transforming power of love). The movie as a whole is tight, well-balanced, well-written, well-acted, and basically perfect (so long as you don't watch the Special Edition with "Human Again" shoehorned into the middle. Save that for the Broadway musical).
Belle is my princess, and Beauty and the Beast is my jam.
This library still makes me swoon.
That said, I felt rather ambivalent when I heard that the next of Disney's live-action remakes was going to be Beauty and the Beast. Anyone who's heard me on the topic knows at least partially what I think of Disney remakes (I may one day have to rant about the disaster that was Maleficent), and I wasn't sure I wanted the unfortunateness of those remakes touching one of my all-time favorite movies. Still, the teaser trailers were gorgeous, and I like Emma Watson, so I was excited nonetheless. I went with a couple of friends on opening weekend and ended up waiting in an actual line to get in (this in a tiny local theater where usually it's busy if more than a dozen people buy tickets for any one showing). There were lots of kids waiting in that line, and it made me realize that this might actually be some people's first time watching Beauty and the Beast. I crossed my fingers and hoped it would live up to the original.
And...well, I was right to be ambivalent.
First of all, the good things:
Again, nailed it!
Those are the good things, and I'm not going to pretend they don't exist simply for the fact that I'm writing this post mostly to rant. The movie is good. I had a great time watching it, and I think there's a lot of amazingness to it. The people who made it clearly cared about the source material, and they wanted their movie to reflect that. A lot of the changes they made were smart changes that added something new to the story.
But the 2017 remake had big shoes to fill, and I'm not quite sure it managed to fill them. Here, IMHO, is where it fell short:
Please don't eat me...
Overall, it is a good time, but you can save yourself the ticket price and watch the 1991 animated movie without missing much.
*A small rant about the LeFou-being-openly-gay thing: I don't feel like I can give Disney full credit for this one. LeFou is not openly gay. Don't misunderstand, he's gay. They don't shy away from that fact. But the openly-gay moment is so quick I actually missed it at first, and I don't think he's "more" gay than any of the other gay Disney characters, like Timone and Pumbaa, or even Lumiere and Cogsworth (which, when I first heard about the first openly gay Disney character making an appearance in this movie, I kind of thought it would be Lumiere and/or Cogsworth). That said, I think the portrayal they give to LeFou, not the least of which includes a few layers and a proper character arc, is awesome. More please!
I love Disney princess movies. I may be pushing 30, but I refuse to make any apologies about this love. When I'm sad, I throw on Beauty and the Beast; when I'm bored at work, I play my Pandora playlist that I've trained to only Disney princess movie songs (and a few from Wicked).
I. Love. Disney. Princess. Movies.
I say this because I want it clear where I'm coming from. The first time I was able to see Frozen was one of the best times I had in the theater. But since then, Frozen has really bothered me. It is 99% awesomeness, but that last 1% in the form of that final twist, Prince Hans's 180 into last-minute villain, really can kill my joy in watching what is otherwise a genuinely good Disney princess movie.
I get what they were going for, but it never seemed to add up. Hans is not evil. It's one thing for the characters to fool each other, but it's an entirely different thing for the characters to fool the audience, even on rewatches. At no point before his villain monologue does Hans do anything that could be a clue that he's actually the bad guy, so his turn has always really, really bugged me.
And then one of my favorite YouTube channels, Film Theory, made this video:
I will never watch Hans's turn to bad guy the same way again. Thank God, Frozen can now be 100% awesomeness.
*Please note: This post is full of spoilers*
This Valentine’s Day, enamored men and women everywhere will exchange flowers and chocolate, eat romantic candle-lit dinners—and perhaps, at some point, the mood will be right for the gentleman to get down on one knee and pop The Question. There are a million right ways to ask your lady to marry you, from sky-writing above a football stadium to sitting on the couch eating burritos. But, for every right way, there is also a wrong way. So, this Valentine’s Day, here are my Top 5 Ways Not to Propose to Your Lady.
5. Murphy’s Law
Bernard to Miss Bianca
Disney’s The Rescuers Down Under
Unlike the others on this list, Bernard’s trouble is not with a lousy setup or a poor word choice. In fact, he planned a very pleasant, traditional proposal: a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant, a diamond ring, and a few choice words about love. But then everything that can go wrong, does. He spends the entire movie trying to propose to his lady and always getting interrupted, sometimes even by Miss Bianca herself.
Pesky plot, always getting in the way.
Miss Bianca’s (eventual) Answer: Yes
Lesson Learned: Don’t answer your cell phone at the dinner table.
4. The Compromise
Edward Cullen to Isabella Swan
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga
Girls, is the glittery vampire of your dreams refusing to have sex with you?
Vampires, is the freesia-scented girl of your dreams too lusty for her own good?
Never fear, marriage is here! With a single ceremony, vampires can temper teenage hormones, and girls can get laid by marble gods!
Bella’s Answer: Yes, with one condition
Lesson Learned: If at first you don’t succeed, bribe, bribe again.
Edward Fairfax Rochester to Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre
The scene starts off with Jane and Mr. Rochester discussing his imminent marriage to the honorable Miss Blanche Ingram and how, because of it, Jane is about to move from England to Ireland. It ends with Jane and Mr. Rochester engaged.
I’m sorry, did I miss something?
Jane’s Answer: Yes
Lesson Learned: Um...I'm not sure.
2. The Cold, Hard Truth
Fitzwilliam Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are widely considered one of the most perfect romantic couples in all of fiction, but they certainly didn’t start that way, and never is that more clear than the (first) time he proposes to her. “My social class, my family reputation, and even my own better judgment abhor the thought of you. Marry me anyway.”
Charlotte Lu from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries said it best: that guy really needs to work on his game.
Lizzy’s Answer: Not in a million years!
Lesson Learned: Maybe honesty isn’t always the best policy.
1. The Mandate of Heaven
St. John Rivers to Jane Eyre
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre
Wait a minute. Last time I looked, Jane was engaged to Mr. Rochester. So who’s this St. John guy?
OK...Jane’s Big Day gets interrupted with the discovery that all those weird things that’ve happened at Thornfield (the fire, the stabbing, the strange noises, the bone-chilling laughs) are the result of the crazy wife Mr. Rochester keeps hidden in the attic, which makes him almost a bigamist, which Jane can’t handle, so she runs away where she’s taken in by St. John Rivers, who is later revealed to be her cousin, a self-proclaimed “cold, hard, ambitious man” who is determined to go to India as a missionary.
St. John wants Jane to accompany him to India because he thinks her diligence and intelligence would make her a good lady-missionary, but she doesn’t really want to leave England, especially because she hasn’t heard a single word from or about Mr. Rochester since the night she sneaked out of Thornfield and she’s worried that his wild, headlong nature has led him to harm since she broke his heart, but she still is willing to consider St. John’s offer because of the whole crazy-wife-in-the-attic thing, so she sort of agrees, EXCEPT...he has a condition: he insists that she marry him first, not because they love each other—a fact he pounds in with a sledgehammer—but because God Himself has declared she must. If she refuses, he says, it isn’t him she’s refusing, but GOD.
Jane, honey, your spunk, intelligence, and moral uprightness make you my all-time favorite heroine. “I must keep in good health and not die” as your plan for avoiding hell is one of the best lines ever written. In a world inundated with girls who let their romantic others walk all over them, your ability to hold your own against Mr. Rochester even when he’s in A Mood is such a breath of fresh air. But, seriously, girl, what the heck is with these proposal scenes?
Jane’s Answer: No
Lesson Learned: “Ordained by God” isn’t a great reason for getting married.
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