You know the story: Belle’s a bookworm who doesn’t fit in, there’s a beast, a cursed castle, and lots of musical numbers. The live action remake of Beauty and the Beast changes little of the main plot, but it does take pains to address some questions that have lingered in the twenty-six years since the animated movie came out, like “why did the servants get cursed, too?” (because they “did nothing” about the prince turning into a spoilt nightmare person), and “can anyone in the village read besides Belle and the book guy?” (no). There’s also an unnecessary side trip to Paris to discover that Belle’s mother died of the plague and a doctor in one of those gimp masks they used to wear because what children really need is a pants-wetting terror of doctors.
Here’s the conundrum that we were pondering at the electrical office of LaineyGossip: Does the fact that Emma Watson can’t really sing negate her acting performance as Belle? Because she’s a charming and spunky Belle, but she really is not a good singer and even with lots of computerized help, she’s by far the weakest link in the voice cast. When Luke Evans shows up to sing as Gaston on “Belle” he blows her so far out of the water he practically launches her into space. Does this ruin her performance altogether or is it okay that Belle isn’t a great singer?
For the most part everyone does sing well—Dan Stevens turns out to have some chops—but Ewan McGregor ruins “Be Our Guest” with his ludicrous French accent (I wanted to cry), and Emma Thompson is just never going match, let alone top, Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts. Feels mean to even make her try. And as great as Luke Evans is as Gaston—and he is REALLY great, the highlight of the movie—Josh Gad is equally irritating as LeFou. He holds every moment a beat too long, and the way he plays LeFou is so creepy and clingy and weirdly controlling, he and Gaston DEFINTIELY end up in a murder/suicide. As for LeFou’s “exclusively gay moment”? Blink and you’ll miss it. It’s barely a step above subtext.
And now for a series of questions about how the Beast sh*ts. Do you think the Beast poos like a person or does he sh*t like a dog? And if he does poo like a person, how does he deal with his pants? He has a tail, it can’t be easy getting pants up and down over a tail. Also, if he poos like a person, is he using a chamber pot? In that era he would have had a servant dealing with his chamber pots—did that person get turned into a chamber pot, and if they did, has the Beast been sh*tting in their mouth this whole time?
Parts of Beauty and the Beast do work quite well. It’s not nearly as good as Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, but director Bill Condon (Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Kinsey, two movies that 100% explain his take on Beauty) puts together some pretty great musical numbers. “Be Our Guest” isn’t one of them—for some reason they decided to tweak the song, WHY would you do that?—but “Gaston” is fun. All of the new songs are bad, though, and I hope they don’t win any Oscars.
Beauty and the Beast is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s not as good as the animated film, but on the other hand, the artistic design is pretty spectacular. Stanley Tucci is utterly wasted, but Luke Evans is so good as Gaston he almost manages to justify the whole endeavor. The Beast is a walking nightmare that looks like the hell-born offspring of a water buffalo and Sasquatch, but the way the servant-objects look “real” is neat. Kevin Kline is terrific, but Emma Watson can’t sing. It’s all ups and downs and I can’t emphasize enough that the Beast is a horrifying pile of animated taxidermy. Also, at the end, post-transformation, it is revealed that the prince can still growl like the Beast. And Belle wants him to grow a beard. So those two are 100% into bestiality role play. Live action Beauty and the Beast is kind of insane.