Disney’s latest more ‘booty’ than ‘beauty’

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Disney, as it stands today, recognizes that nostalgia sells. First it was “Maleficent,” then “Cinderella,” then “The Jungle Book.” All of the properties these films were based on are recognizable and generally remembered fondly by most people and did fairly well because of it.
However, it wasn’t until Disney announced that they would be remaking “Beauty and the Beast” that things became serious.

Not only is “Beauty and the Beast” the first film to be remade that became a part of popular culture when a large chunk of the older millennials were young children, it is also revered as Disney’s magnum opus when it comes to its fairy tales. To this day, the 1991 film is the only hand-drawn animated feature ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

Remaking such a beloved film is a very difficult task, yet Disney saw potential (potential here meaning dollar signs) in “reimagining” the film for a modern audience. I use the word “reimagining” in quotes because it hardly earns that title, but before we get into why that is, let’s talk what works with this film.

As I mentioned before, Disney is aware of how much nostalgia sells, and the moments that evoke those nostalgic feelings do hit home. For fans of the original film, hearing those classic songs brought to life again will bring back warm memories and transport people to more innocent days.

Along with that, some of the updates to the characters worked rather well. Much hoopla was made over Josh Gad’s LeFou being openly gay, and even though it definitely was clear that his affection for main villain Gaston was more than just brotherly admiration, it was handled with enough dignity to garner respect. Also, Emma Watson’s Belle is given some welcome “female empowerment” moments that break the mold of the typical female lead in Disney films, even if it is only slight.

Sadly, this is where the positives of the film come to a disappointing close.

For the most part, “Beauty and the Beast” is a bit of a mess.

If you are going to remake such a universally praised film with so many iconic moments and characters, you absolutely have to get two things right: the atmosphere and the casting. The former is done fairly well.

The sets are nice to look at (if not a little overly CG at times), and the giant dance numbers are well-choreographed and a hell of a lot of fun, but the majority of the casting in this film worth less than the moist, smelly hair wad in the Beast’s shower drain.

There is absolutely no reason for Watson to be cast as Belle other than the fact that she is Emma Watson. Both her singing and acting is so drained of any type of genuine emotion that a cardboard cutout of the original Belle would have been just as satisfying.

Along with Watson, nearly every character is questionably cast. Who do we get for the most popular character with a French accent ever? Let’s get that Scottish guy who played young Obi-Wan Kenobi! We also have to get someone for one of the most charmingly unique Disney villains who is described as being “roughly the size of a barge.” Why not that thin vampire from that horrible “Dracula” remake no one saw? The only good casting choices made were Dan Stevens’ Beast, who sounds eerily accurate to the original, and the aforementioned LeFou played by Gad.

After sitting through superficial covers of classic songs, being barraged by bad-to-decent CGI, and listening to Watson’s blatantly overly produced vocals in every song she had, a genuine question comes up.

Why does this film even exist?

The original is a masterpiece. It has everything any lover of Disney would want from their fairy tale films. Strong characters, a good moral, fantastical scenery, and well-written and performed music.

Yes, the few minor updates and the addition of the original songs from the Broadway version were nice, but they don’t nearly make up for the fact that the animated version is a stunning piece of cinematic history. These types of films can never be recreated, reimagined, or rebooted properly because there is no possible way one can make them better. They can only be made worse, which unfortunately is the result of Disney’s latest attempt to recapture the world’s childhood.