Yes, Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time, but this brand-new version has been reworked in ways that are worthy of modern audiences. The very-anticipated reboot of Disney’s 1991 animated classic stays true to the original in terms of iconic scenes and story, but it has been enhanced through stunning sets, amazingly lifelike computer effects (you’ll believe clocks can talk) and a stellar cast (Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline, just to name a few).
The narrative follows the same path as the original (spoiler alert): girl meets beast, girl falls in love with beast, and after a few hiccups (thanks to Gaston), they live happily ever after. The 2017 version is sprinkled with a few additional songs, fresh snippets of clever dialogue and a totally new essence thanks to the live-action format. The transition from traditional animation to the cutting-edge rendition created with craft, creativity and computers is surprisingly fluid. If you adored the original, you’ll adore this one too.
This new Beauty and the Beast entertains and engages both parents and kids alike, which is a huge plus when going to the movies as a family. Everyone will be won over by Emma Watson (who has a lovely singing voice), the array of interesting characters (a talking teapot, a waddling clock and a romantic candelabra), and of course, nostalgic moments that have been lovingly recreated in what seems like real life.
Here are a few notes for parents concerned about this newfangled version.
Positive themes: One of the big messages in this new version as in the old is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Not only does Belle fall in love with the Prince in his beastly form, but objects such as a teapot, a tea cup and a clock are more than they appear. Additionally, Belle’s love of books is a wonderful message for budding bookworms in the audience.
Violence/scare factors: In the animated version, the wolves are more of a plot device — in the live-action version, they are fierce creatures. Small children may be frightened by these snarling animals. There’s also (spoiler alert for the one percent who don’t know the story) the climatic and violent scene on the rooftop of the castle when the Beast battles Gaston, which is very intense and involves gun violence (and the beast’s temporary demise) as well as the fall that leads to Gaston’s death.
Sex/romance: Romance is at the forefront of Beauty and the Beast, but as with any Disney film, the presentation is appropriate for all ages. Much ado has been made of Gaston’s right-hand man, LeFou, being gay, but the references are subtle.
Bad language: There’s no bad language.
Drinking/drugs/smoking: While there aren’t any overt mentions of drinking, Gaston’s does appear to be at a pub with customers wielding pints of what could be an alcoholic grog of some sort.
Bottom Line: Beauty and the Beauty is a delight for the whole family, from those who are well acquainted with the 1991 version to those who those who are seeing it for the first time.