I’m trying to write a blog but I’m supposed to be revising for A Levels, so if I structure this review as an 18 mark A01 R.E essay, that counts as revision, right? Yeah, I think so too.
One feature of a good remake is that the new film answers questions that the original left open. As everyone knows, there are a lot of problems with the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, plot-wise. The timeline means that the Beast was eleven when he was cursed – how does that make sense? What’s with the cupboard full of Chip’s possibly dead siblings? How do the people in Belle’s town not know they live next to a massive castle? The answers are: time froze because magic; they’re not in it; and everyone’s memories were erased – again, because magic. So all those loose ends are tied up, somewhat. However, the mystery still remains of how Belle got the Beast on the horse. I think he just got on it himself, but I can’t be sure. That’s something for us all to speculate about until the next Beauty and the Beast reremake comes out in 2043.
Another element of a good remake is big names. Big names mean big sales. One problem with that though: the singing abilities of these big names, or lack thereof. But don’t have a go at Emma Watson: Josh Gad was autotuned and we know he can sing – he’s Olaf and he was in Book of Mormon. I wish they would just, well first hire people who can sing, but failing that, just let them sing, even if it’s not perfect. Saying that, they let Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing in La La Land and we all know how well that went (for those of you that have not seen it, it did not go well). But we’ve all seen Les Mis: it’s a Hollywood issue, not a Beauty and the Beast issue. *angrily shakes fist in the air* Damn you, Hollywood! Damn you to hell!
Um, next topic: LaFou aka the best character in the film. What this remake has done that many others have neglected to, is to pick a character from the original at random and then give that character an unprecedented amount of character development. And, you know what, it’s genius. This adaptation is roughly an hour longer than the 1991 version and it has been padded out with a few mediocre songs, some great one-liners, and LaFou, loads and loads of LaFou. And Lafou is Josh Gad. So loads and loads of Josh Gad. It’s good, is what I’m saying. Not only is he less annoying than his animated counterpart, he is so much funnier and, believe it or not, has a character-arc (I know, actual character development for a supporting character in a Disney film? Scandalous.) There’s one particularly great LaFou moment: in the song Gaston, which you will remember for being one of the top five greatest songs ever written, everyone in the pub just starts singing about how amazing this douchebag, Gaston is. And it makes no sense – he’s a douchebag. Or does it? Whereas in the 1991 version, you just have to make your peace with the fact that everyone in the town thinks Gaston is let’s-dedicate-a-song-to-him amazing, in this version you can see LaFou sliding coins across the table to everyone, full on bribing them to sing about his bff/crush, Gaston. And I like details like that.
One feature of a good remake is that there aren’t pointless additions to the plot that serve no purpose other than to lengthen the film’s run time making it harder for people to sit through the whole thing without needing a loo break. This film did not feature this feature. We all remember the artifacts from the 1991 Beauty and the Beast: the rose, the mirror, the … magic book that’s also a teleporter? The most melodramatic and convoluted plot-device ever, all to tell us what happened to Belle’s mum. Considering most Disney protagonists are orphans, it’s safe to say that this was a pressing issue for exactly zero people. And after all that, she died of the plague. Wow. Really? Someone please tell me what the point of that was. The single good thing about that scene was when the Beast asked if she wanted to go and see the main landmarks in Paris: “too touristy?”
Another feature of a good remake, and this is quite specific to Beauty and the Beast, is making it less Stockholm Syndromey. This was done through the development of the relationship between the two main characters. The Beast, sounding like James Earl Jones and looking like Mufasa, actually has things in common with Belle now. Rather than being a worryingly illiterate member of royalty like in the 1991 film, he’s a bookworm like Belle and they bond over this as he judges her taste in YA romance novels. The library scene much more meaningful when it’s “these are all of my favourite and treasured books and I’d love for you to enjoy them as I have” rather than “erm, well I have this huge room full of books and I can’t read so you may as well use this room I guess”. By adding in these similarities between the characters, it makes it seem like they’re suited and they might have gotten together even if Belle wasn’t being kept at the castle against her will. Ok, it’s still got a bit of the Stockholm Syndrome issues there but it’s a big improvement.
In conclusion (yeah we’re still doing the essay thing), this film is a brilliant remake. I was not a fan of the 2015 remake of Cinderella, so I was ready for this film to be terrible, especially because, as the 1991 Beauty and the Beast film is one of my favourite Disney films, it had a long way to go to be as good as the original. And, if you don’t mind the occasional obviously autotuned note, I think it probably is as good as the original: the Be Our Guest scene was possibly even better, and that’s a big thing for me to say because 1991 Lumiere is flawless. But, in that scene, they had everything: a guillotine reference #frenchrevolutionjokes; the best visuals in the whole film; and I’m pretty certain Lumiere dabbed at one point. For your own sake, if you haven’t seen this film yet, just go and see it, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
So that’s my 18 marker. Feel free to give me some feedback in the comments. You can mark me out of 18 if you wish (please only do this if you have the official mark scheme to hand, though).