Beauty and the Beast - a Mom Approved Review

Beauty and the Beast – a Mom Approved Review

Beauty and the Beast is one of 2017’s most anticipated films, especially among princess loving Disney fans, but is it appropriate for your kiddos?

The Storyline:

“A tale as old as time, true to the original as it can be.” (Did you sing it? I did!) Ok really, the storyline of Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast follows the original 1991 Disney animated film pretty well, with a few twists, dare I even say improvements to the story. I really loved getting a little backstory of what happened to Belle’s mother, why the prince was such a stinker before becoming the Beast, deeper character development, a Gaston you love to hate even more(quickly) and a more endearing look at how these two crazy kids fell in love.

The Facts on Le Fou:

Normally I do a concise section on what parents should consider, but current headlines dictate a need for a bit more detail on the BIG stink being made about the “exclusively gay moment” in Beauty and the Beast. Before I go further, I don’t care where you are on the political spectrum, if you don’t have anything nice to say, please keep scrolling.

I think many of the current headlines are making a MUCH bigger deal about Le Fou in order to drive click traffic. Frankly it saddens me that the film is being overshadowed by it. Le Fou is Gaston’s over-the-top fanboy, just as he was in the animated version. Josh Gad adds an eccentric, fun side to Le Fou, though I think his eyes are open entirely too wide the whole movie in a distracting, kooky way. Le Fou gives real advice to Gaston how to win over Belle, even though it appears he doesn’t want Gaston to breakup their grossly one-sided “friendship” (friendship in quotes, because Gaston does not give a hoot about Le Fou, he only cares that Le Fou is doing his bidding- that is not a friendship).

Le Fou rubs Gaston’s shoulder for a moment in the iconic “Gaston” tavern song but it’s in the context of “no one is as ______ as Gaston” it came across as a “brown-nosing” Gaston is awesome, feeding the ego- not a sensual shoulder massage way.

The “exclusively gay moment” is about a 1 second dance and smile at the end of the movie. That’s it! If you blink you’ll miss it (and so will your kids if it is an issue for you). In the final big ballroom dance scene, the entire room is dancing to one of the victorian style dances where everyone is dancing and changes partners. Le Fou and another man are accidentally “partnered” and they quickly smile out of what comes across as a happy surprise. The scene changes focus immediately after and it’s over. IF your kids even notice, it’s because they are looking for it. Josh Gad effectively plays up the goofiness of his animated counterpart, personally I think there is a lot more hetero-sexual innuendo and cleavage in the movie that is more eye-raising, than this quick moment. Now, moving on.

What Parents Should Consider:

  • The live action Beauty and the Beast is rated PG. Not G. for many reasons, violence being the biggest reason.
  • If “the moment” is a concern for you, your teenagers and tweens with access to media streams will be more apt to look for it only because the media has made a fuss about it.
  • The wolf scenes (there are 2) are incredibly intense and will be the only reason my kiddos will not watch be watching Beauty and the Beast in a theater.
    Edited to add when (if you choose to cover eyes in the theater) Scene #1: After Maurice crashes his cart in the woods after getting lost Scene #2: After Belle escapes the Beast (just like in the original)
  • If you have a child who is scared of dogs or wolves, I would strongly caution you to preview this movie first and let your kiddos watch it at home and fast forward as needed.
  • The beast is pretty scary when he’s angry.
  • There is a good amount of period clothing driven cleavage in the movie (except Belle).
  • Peril and suspense in the “kill the Beast” battle between Gaston and Beast.
  • If you thought Gaston was a jerk in the first movie, you will really not like him in this one. He tries to kill more than just the Beast.
  • Very minor, but when the wardrobe attacks 3 men with scarves and such she “redresses” them as women, 2 frown, 1 smiles for a split second before the scene splits-  a very funny scene that only lasts a second, and if we can laugh at Bugs Bunny dressing up like a woman to mess with Elmer Fudd, we can laugh at that split second.
  • Minor verbal innuendos to Gaston’s history with all the widows in the war, the prince before he was the Beast had some interesting parties, Lumiere and Plumette are a fun, flirty couple, but it’s more “my love” than “oo-la-la”.
  • Luke Evans effectively plays Gaston as a raging jerk you will love to hate quickly and has lots of ugly things to say like “the ones who play hard to get are the sweetest prey of all”.
  • This movie is not a cartoon, it is live action – so all of the scenes become more real to your kiddos and increases the intensity for the joyful, the sad and the scary).

What Parents Do Not Need To Worry About:

  • Language, no cursing- only one reference to “eternal damnation”(the curse) and a few uses of idiot, hag and shut-up
  • Unexpectedly funny. Mostly good clean jokes and typical Disney jokes for grownups that will go over small kiddos heads
  • Alcohol – even in the tavern scene no one is stumbly drunk
  • Beautiful story of love between parents and children, Belle and Beast
  • Lessons of heroism and self sacrifice for those you love
  • Obvious teachable moments about not judging by appearance alone, looking past the superficial surface
  • While not being billed as a musical, there is a lot more singing in the movie (which I love)

Should Your Kids See Beauty and the Beast?

While the re-imagined storyline is familiar, the live action makes it feel much more real and filled with love, violence, fear, some grown up subject matter, drama, death, peril and rightfully has a very PG rating. This is not the silly animated Beauty and the Beast I adore and you remember. There are several very intense scenes and I jumped in my seat more than once. I think it bears repeating, if your kiddos have any issues with growling dogs, wolves or the like, you probably should have your kiddos stick to the animated version until the DVD comes out to watch on a smaller screen and you can skip those 2 scenes, and maybe even a Beast outburst or two.

Belle is a slightly stronger and still incredibly feminine character worth looking up to. Gaston is a great example of who NOT to be, and Le Fou’s eventual discord with Gaston is a great talking point for not being friends with the “cool” guy in town just because he’s cool.

As far as “the moment” stopping you from seeing this movie- each of us has our own opinions, but I feel a pretty honest litmus test for you (different talking point, but same degree of controversy) would be to use Disney’s animated Mulan in 1998. When the ghosty-ish ancestors are fighting over who hasn’t brought honor to the Fa family, one of them yells out “no your great-grandaughter had to be a crossdresser!” If Mulan doesn’t bother you, this one probably won’t either. If you are concerned about questions, if your kiddos did not ask you questions after the Mulan moment, chances are they will not ask questions with Beauty and the Beast, as any inference is non-verbal.

My Thoughts:

I LOVED this movie. I truly can not wait to watch it again, but it won’t be with my little ones. The tweenage boy child wants to wait to watch it when it comes out on DVD, because its a “princess” movie. But I will for sure be going to see it again on the big screen!

Casting was a huge concern for me going into the preview, there were HUGE shoes to fill. I was pleasantly surprised to see how each cast member made their character their own, and after watching the movie, no one disappointed me. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens were perfectly cast together, their chemistry looks very natural. As I stated before Luke Evans very effectively plays Gaston (almost too well)!! Josh Gad is goofy and funny in grand Josh Gad style, but I enjoyed watching him be serious when he questions his allegiance to Gaston.

Going into the movie, my absolute biggest concern scene-wise, was the Be Our Guest scene. How in the world was that going to live up to the animated version?! It started out a little slow, but the essence of the animated scene was brought to life beautifully. I enjoyed the new soundtrack, with the exception of the Ariana Grande/John Legend cover (it did not work for me).

The additional 40 minutes of backstories and elaboration of some storyline made me happy. To my older mind, much of the story made more sense in this version over the animated version.

My Age Recommendations:

As much as I love this version Beauty and the Beast, my 5 year will not be watching this version, due only to the intensity of the 2 wolf scenes, a few Beast outbursts. For me, it is simply not a little kids movie- the animated version is a more sugar coated version of the story more suited to her age.

Each and every kiddo is different, but in general, I would recommend this movie for ages 7 to 8 and up depending on your kiddo.

On a side note, if you are going to Disney soon, and want your smaller kiddo to meet the Beast at Be Our Guest at Dinner, you may want to skip the movie until you get back! While he is sweet in the end, he might freak out a little one.

Fun Facts:

  • Approximately 180 feet of feather light satin organza was used to create Belle’s yellow dress. The dress, which required 3,000 feet of thread and took over 12,000 hours to create, was accentuated with 2,160 Swarovski crystals
  • Emma Watson (Belle), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Luke Evans (Gaston) and Nathan Mack (Chip) all share the same birthday, April 14, which was also the date of the cast read through
  • Over 8,700 candles (or 104,400 inches of wax) were used as set decoration during production.
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