“Be Our Guest” and try again

By Nicole Taylor – 1851 Staff

Disney’s finest classics were constantly popped in and out of my VCR growing up. However, I didn’t see “Beauty and the Beast” until I was 21; save your gasps, I get that a lot. Here we are now with Disney remakes like “Cinderella”and “Jungle Book” and the most recent, “Beauty and the Beast” starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast.  

The 1991 tale as old as time should have been kept that way. The original film is remembered for its “don’ t judge a book by its cover” theme, true love prevailing, and the inevitable matrimony of Belle and the Beast. It’s nostalgic to say the least. I’m sure that is what we all anxiously waited for; the magical moments that revived childhood memories, but it didn’t.

Bill Condon, director, was aiming to bring the movie to life, but it seems that was his only goal, and it was done too hastily. There is no surprise plot twist, no true animation in the enchanted servants (Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, and Ewan McGregor), and the thought process was a bit one dimensional.

I found myself waiting for something new and exhilarating to come from the film. The songs were somewhat aligned with the original movie, along with some new, odd ones. The scene where Lumiére welcomes Belle to the dinner table with an incessant performance of “Be our Guest” filled with light changing backgrounds, dancing cutlery, and spinning motions that are sure to make you dizzy, is unforgettable and not in a good unforgettable kind of way. It is excessive. The biggest let down was the lack of definition in the servants. They were too antique-y and non-expressive. We do find out what actually happened to Belle’ s mother, which is one of the only, if not the only, surprise that is revealed. Thank goodness the seats in the AMC theater were comfortable, because if the movie were any longer than the exact 130 minutes, I would have fallen asleep.

It is possible the movie was designed for this generation of kids and teens who may never know or understand the ingenuity and unadulterated content of the original film because when I hear the words “Beauty and the Beast,” I picture the porcelain-like Belle with rosy cheeks, spinning around, the witty and adorable enchanted servants with true facial expression, giggling and conversing, and the colors of each room in the castle expressing warmth. I do not picture “Beauty and the Beast” the way Condon recreated it; dark, dispassionate, and somewhat cold. Not to be overly sardonic or scrutinizing, but it reminded me of a “Harry Potter” set.

If I were a film critic, I would give the movie two out of five stars. I was expecting much more, and that is probably due to the fondness I have for the original film. Recreations are tough to pull off. Sorry Condon, this one didn’t work for me.

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