Beauty and the Beast

I went through a quiet morning of work, and after I was done, I hurried to take the buses out to the Grand Lake Theatre.  It turned out that the next showing of “Beauty and the Beast” would start one hour later than I thought it would, so I walked over to JJ Burger and had the fish sandwich combo.  I spent a half hour watching the television there.  I went back to the theatre and took a seat.  Quite a few people showed up for this screening, although some of them were annoying.  They were either the type who could not keep quiet during the two hours of the movie, or very young children who would get restless.  This was not a 3-D screening.  Everyone knows that Emma Watson, Hermione from the Harry Potter movies, plays Belle.  She was pretty good in her performance, although she had a few facial expressions that she kept repeating throughout the movie.  Her singing seemed very strong.  It wasn’t quite shocking that Kevin Kline has become old enough to play the father of someone like Hermione, but it did point out how the years have passed since the time of “A Fish Called Wanda.”  I thought that the idea of these objects talking and singing got to be ridiculous even in the context of a fairy tale.  It was too much of a weird thing.  I could take Emma Thompson being around, but the guy from Star Wars went out of favor in my mind after “Attack of the Clones.”  There was a very funny moment that involved Belle and a snowball.  The greatest musical sequence was “Be Our Guest,” which was like a Busby Berkeley production with a touch of “Singin’ in the Rain.”  The number inspired a bit of applause among the audience.  I thought the movie became less amusing once Belle started to like the Beast, who actually reminded me in some shots of Andrew McCarthy.  When her sentiment changes, it makes the rest of the story feel inevitable, and that we are merely waiting for the ending to happen.  I felt that the movie was slightly too long because I prefer movies that get right to the point and don’t waste any time at all.  All in all, though, I thought the movie was successful in its live action transformation and increased length.  It pleased the crowd, too, as most people stuck around for the initial part of the end credits to cheer the names, almost like applauding the cast at the end of a Broadway musical or an opera.  There has been some publicity about the gay moment involving LeFou, which I found distracting, rather like the Sulu moment in the last Star Trek movie.  I don’t see why some statement about the sexual orientation of a supporting character has to be made.  I thought about what the audience reaction might be if the roles were reversed, if the beauty was the man and the beast was the woman.  It might make for dangerous or even disgusting subject matter.  I saw the animated “Beauty and the Beast” only once, and that was on the day of the Super Bowl back in 1992.  It’s hard to see how quickly the past twenty-five years have passed.  One of these days I’ll have to go back and watch that older movie once again.  It looks like this movie is a gigantic hit.  The disturbing thing, though, is that we’re getting something we’ve experienced before, only redone and repackaged.  It’s like a young singer having a hit with an Elvis or Beatles song.  Some of the people who died on March 19 include Edgar Rice Burroughs (1950), Edward Platt (1974), Willem de Kooning (1997), Arthur C. Clarke (2008), and Paul Scofield (2008).  Today is a birthday for Bruce Willis (62), Glenn Close (70), and Ursula Andress (81).

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