Tuesday, May 16, 2017

As Old As Time

You know that I pretty much review every movie I go to see.   I usually come right home and write my critique and then I store it away for later blog posting. Well, somehow, I completely forgot to run this piece on Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" even though I saw it sometime between when it had made bazillions and gazillions of dollars.  It just went into my blog queue and never came out. Until now.   I wonder why.

Maybe it's because the film didn't really register with me as memorable.   Or perhaps it's due to the fact that I thought I saw it all before.

Oh, wait, I did.

Let's see.   There was the animated feature I saw back in the early 90s.   Then I remember I took my then-young goddaughter to see the stage version on Broadway.   Was there an Ice Capades edition of it?   That sounds familiar.   And didn't NBC produce an all-Hispanic live version with Jennifer Lopez as Belle and Jimmy Smits as the Beast?  Or am I imagining all this?

Whatever the case, this movie is a reminder that Hollywood has completely run out of new ideas and will cannibal stuff it made before.   Okay, in this case, there is a sweetness about the new live action production of what was once a cartoon.  Women who saw it as kids are now mothers taking their kids to see it and that's a good thing.  For that reason alone, "Beauty and the Beast" is pretty serviceable entertainment.

Of course, when I look up the original run time of the cartoon, I see it came in at a nifty 84 minutes.   The live action version clocks in at two hours plus which makes me think that the characters move faster when animated.  Yes, the 2017 edition is quite padded and loaded with special effects that I supposed people can't really draw.   There seemed to be more songs because, after all, what's a Disney movie without a tune they can exploit for next year's Best Song Oscar.

Despite the excess, the story remains the same...a tale as old as time...ahem. There are some accommodations made for 2017 audiences.   Given the big push for diversity, several of the characters are played by African-Americans.   I'm not being a hard ass about this, but history tells me that there were likely very few Blacks dancing waltzes as members of the long ago French aristocracy, but that's just me.   There's also a quick gay-oriented joke that is quite funny and worrisome for the folks at squeaky-clean Disney.   I mean, if the producers wanted to really tie in the present day, I'm surprised that the irate mob at the end of the movie didn't carry some "Trump Must Be Impeached" signs.

The casting in this "Beauty" was perfectly fine.   Emma Watson can sing and Dan Stevens (Matthew from Downton Abbey) can grunt.  I had an issue with the guy playing the villainous Gaston.   Oh, Luke Evans in the role was perfectly snarly but he was completely miscast.   First of all, he looked like Robert Goulet which would put him about thirty years too old for Belle.   And, second of all, I never liked Robert Goulet.   I've also never been a fan of Kevin Kline, which meant his appearance as Belle's father completely annoyed me.  

Of course, all the appliances and knick knacks in the castle were played by live actors, but, again, they were animated so I guess that this movie is only a reboot of the cartoon in part.  Frankly, I much prefer cartoons when they involve talking candlesticks and tea cups but I'm funny that way.

Again, this new version made a fortune, so you can fully expand Disney to keep recycling everything in their library.   I fully expect an all-giraffe edition of "Pollyanna" and a reboot of "The Parent Trap" where the parents are both of the same sex.

Welcome to creativity in 2017.

LEN'S RATING:  Three stars.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a sandwich and salad.

No comments: