Film: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

#1 movie, weekends of 3/17-3/19/17 and 3/24-3/26/17

Gross: $174,750,616, $90,426,717

What it is: A live-action (+ lots of CGI) remake of Disney’s 1991 animated musical about a young woman who is taken prisoner and ultimately falls in love with a prince who has been magically transformed into a horrific monster.

The first stand-up bit I ever wrote was about how Disney made the Beast from Beauty and the Beast really hot even though the story was supposed to hinge on how horrifying and un-lovable he was. (Some of the early concept sketches show artists taking him in an uglier/scarier direction before they ended up chickening out.) But while I haven’t seen the original Beauty and the Beast in forever, I don’t recall it going as far as showing the Beast shirtless, which this version does, and of course he’s jacked. There must be a talking set of free weights lying around the castle somewhere.

Anyway, that aside, I thought this was decent. The cast (which includes Emma Watson as Belle, Legion‘s Dan Stevens as the Beast and Kevin Kline as Belle’s father) is fun, it looks good, there’s some nice spooky atmosphere. Some people have complained about the computer-animated characters looking creepy compared to their hand-drawn counterparts, but they are talking objects in a haunted castle after all. They can look kind of creepy, that’s okay.

One thing I found interesting about this production was that even though it takes place in old-timey France, there are many black actors scattered throughout the cast–well, “many” if you count the extras and “a few” if you just look at those with speaking roles, including Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette and Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe. I’m guessing this is not historically accurate (though it’s possible I’m underestimating the black French population of the 18th century or the 19th century or whenever this is supposed to be), but no reason not to suspend disbelief for the sake of a diverse cast if we’re already doing so in regards to enchanted castles and beast-men and such.

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