Jeri Jacquin

This Friday in theatres from director Bill Condon and Disney is the return of a tale as old as time with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Belle (Emma Watson) is a young girl living in a small village where everyone knows everyone. So much so that Belle is known as an unusual girl who would read than find a husband. Living with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), he is also seen as unusual.

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Also in the town is Gaston (Luke Evans), a tad self centered man who sees Belle as his prize and wants to marry her. Along with side kick LeFou (Josh Gad), it is a constant struggle to understand why she is not falling at his feet!

During a trip to the neighboring town, Maurice unexpectedly loses his way and ends up in a tattered castle. He quickly discovers that the inhabitants are a little more magical and terrifying. A Beast (Dan Stevens) roars down and puts Maurice in a tower cell.

When their horse returns to Belle, she immediately knows her father is in trouble and rides off to find him. Finding her father in a cell and meeting the Beast, Belle offers a trade to stay in exchange for releasing her father.

Maurice returns to the town and tries to convince everyone that Belle is being held prisoner by a Beast. In the meantime Belle is getting to know her surroundings and the magic that holds the castle captive. Taking care of her is the candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), the elegant clock Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), the motherly teapot Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and her teacup son Chip (Nathan Mack), the chiffarobe Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and the ivory keys of Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci).

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Getting to know the Beast, Belle begins to see a different side of the creature. This thrills the residence of the castle since there is a curse with a glass encased rose and when the last petal falls they all will become unchangeable forever.

The Beast begins to feel so much more than he could have imagined and when Belle needs to be with her father, his heart gives in. But that isn’t all changing as Gaston convinces the town that the Beast must be destroyed. The two sides collide but one thing is certain, nothing will ever be the same.

It begins with heart!

Watson is charming as Belle and she certainly has made her way out of another iconic character. She twirls and sings her way though and looks to be enjoying her performance. Stevens voicing the Beast is gruff and unmoving at first but, of course, finds his heart and is changed.

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Evans as Gaston is very funny and manages to capture the arrogance and narcissism of the marriage minded self-absorbed hunter. Gad as LeFou is clever and also funny.  Kline as Maurice gets a chance to portray Belle’s father in a less absent minded way but still well done.

McGregor as Lumiere is charming, but then again he is supposed to be. McKellen as Cogsworth has that voice that clearly defines who he is. Thompson as Mrs. Potts is sweet and caring along with the adorable Mack as Chip. McDonald as Madame Garderobe needs lessons in fashion and Tucci as Cadenza plays the ivories beautifully.

The original in 1991 with Robbie Benson voicing Beast and Paige O’Hara voicing Belle continues to be a brilliant and colorful animated film that will be first in my heart. I am not a fan of changing my opinion on that anytime soon.

I prefer the 1991 animated version and it’s because of the memories the animated film brings back. I have seen my children and now grandchildren embrace it lovingly and iconically still watch it on Bluray to this day. There is a liveliness, silliness and fun in animated films that can not be captured in live-action.

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The film is obviously beautiful and live-action fans will have a good time singing along to song they already know and one or two new ditties. The costuming is stunning (except for the ending scene where everyone changes and the makeup is pretty disturbing) and the cgi is clever. The cast is fun and that is all that will matter to those sitting in the theatre seats.

In the end – be our guest!