The 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast is pretty unnecessary. It is a sometimes shot-for-shot remake of the beloved 1991 Disney Animated feature (fun fact: Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture – Up and Toy Story 3 have been nominated since). Does its redundancy make it any less fun or fabulous? No, it does not.
It was super-fun to see the world of this beloved Disney classic reinterpreted in a live-action setting. With this new update, we also get an extended look at the palace and its inhabitants before and after the transformation. We also get a tiny bit more of a backstory for the Beast, my guess is that this was done to make him more sympathetic and to tone down the whole Stockholm Syndrome situation. We get to see Belle as an inventor, and as a caring teacher to children in her village. I very much appreciated the fleshing out of one of my favorite Disney princesses. They even threw a few new songs in, while keeping all of the old favorites.
This new imagining of Beauty and the Beast also introduces Disney’s first obviously gay character. While Gaston’s sidekick Le Fou was definitely coded gay in the original animated film, there is no doubt about it in this film. While it was acknowledged with a wink and nod throughout the film, there is a blink and you’ll miss it moment at the end that confirms Le Fou’s preferences in a totally lovely and kid-friendly way. I’m so excited for all the gay kids out there who finally get to see themselves represented (however briefly) in a Disney film.
So what should parents be aware of? I thought it was interesting that although I knew the plot of the movie, I found that seeing real-live people in the same peril was much scarier. Seeing a real man being chased by live wolves was pretty intense, as was seeing a real group of villagers attempting to raid the Beast’s castle. The frenzy caused by Gaston wanting to kill the Beast may be hard for younger viewers to understand and may make a good talking point for after the film. I had actually forgotten what a rough song “Kill the Beast” was until I saw this again, and it was another instance where I think the cartoon provided a nice buffer that is absent in the live-action version. There is also a few instances of gun violence and a moment where the Beast says that he is “damned”. Gaston dies (look, it’s not a spoiler, this movie has been out for 25 years).
So what age is Beauty and the Beast good for? Beauty and the Beast is okay for ages 6 and up. If you child is younger than 6 or is very sensitive, I’d wait to watch this one at home. It also has a relatively long running time of 129 minutes, something to keep in mind before taking small bladders to the theater.
One last warning: Be Our Guest is just as much of an ear worm as it was in 1991. I haven’t stopped singing it since I saw the film three days ago!