This weekend was historic for Disney.  Their live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast broke several box-office records, including highest-grossing opening for a PG-rated movie in the United States, highest-grossing opening for the month of March in the United States, and it made north of $170 million in the US alone according to Box Office Mojo.  BUT...  Is it any good?


This one is easy...  Yes!  It's spectacular.  The original animated Beauty and the Beast from Disney in 1991 falls into that "hot period" of my childhood where Disney could do no wrong.  From 1989-1996, Disney movies were PERFECTION.  This stretch of movies includes The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Toy Story, and even A Goofy Movie.  Yes, I omitted the A-project Pocahontas and included the B-project A Goofy Movie because Pocahontas doesn't do it for me, but actually A Goofy Movie is my favorite movie made by Disney EVER...  Don't ask me why, I can't explain it, it just is.


Anyway, many of those movies I listed above are getting the live-action treatment that was given to films previously like Pete's Dragon and The Jungle Book (along with Dumbo and Mulan from what I hear), the most recent of which was obviously Beauty and the Beast, which I got a chance to see this weekend.


Holy cow, this movie did everything right.  These live-action remakes have a little bit of a different task than other films.  They have different expectations from their audience that different intellectual properties and new franchises don't have to deal with.  These people are usually established fans already (and their children), who don't want their beloved franchise changed AT ALL, but do want it to be better.  They want elements to be ADDED, without any noticeable SUBTRACTIONS, mind you.  They want their animated childhood memories to come to life and leave their children feeling the same way they felt decades earlier.  If those are your expectations of this new Beauty and the Beast film, you will likely leave the theater feeling very satisfied.


The story stays very true to the animated nineties Disney film you probably already love.  It adds a bit more to the plot than the original by way of backstories and flashbacks that are placed nicely that only positively impact the plot.  While in the original film, we were TOLD the prince was an A-hole before being cursed with his beastly appearance, you'll get to SEE it this time.  We know previously that Belle and her father have a complicated relationship, compounded by the confusing and noticeable absence of her mother.  Disney will fill in some of those gaps this time around, and it's very attention-grabbing when they stray from the original's script.


Hands down my favorite aspect of the original movie is the award-winning music, and I am happy to report that, much like the screenplay, everything you want and expect from the original is still there, plus MORE!  The accompanying numbers and choreography are a real sight to behold.  One of the most memorable scenes from the 1991 original was the "Be Our Guest" sequence.  That scene is AMAZING in animated form, but when it comes to life in the new version, it's jaw-dropping.  The only way I can sum up that particular scene is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen on film...  EVER!  I'm telling you, I'm not overstating this sequence.  Don't forget other musical segments of note, including "Bonjour," "Gaston," and the first dance sequence still set to Miss Potts singing the title track, "Beauty and the Beast" popularized by Celine Deon and Peabo Bryson 22 years ago.  (Hear the updated "Beauty and the Beast" by Ariana Grande and John Legend HERE!)  The music is so well done that, despite the fact that I own the original animated movie's soundtrack, I can't wait to run out and grab the live-action's updated soundtrack on CD...  Because I will never give up on you, Compact Discs!


For some reason, a ridiculous amount of negative energy has been placed on Gaston's sidekick LaFou and his supposed implied homosexuality.  I have gone on record with my opinion that this is an absurd thing to be upset about (available HERE).  Before seeing the film, I assumed that LaFou (portrayed brilliantly by Josh Gad) and his crush on the villainous hunk Gaston would be extremely subtle.  While it's never distracting, I will say that LaFou was a little "gayer" than I thought he would be.  He even gets a cute little "happily ever after" moment in the embrace of another man.  The movie is PG, there's no same-sex kiss or Brokeback Mountain tent sequence obviously.  If you have a problem taking your kids to see this movie because of anything related to LaFou, you should probably get your priorities straight and you're depriving yourself and your kids of a truly magical experience that is uniquely Disney.

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