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Beauty and the Beast

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. No, no…that’s not a joke on Josh Gad’s weight. He actually looks like he’s lost a few pounds. It’s in reference to Gad’s character. You see, the star of Book of Mormon, who was so fun as Olaf in Frozen, plays LeFou. Now, when I saw the screening awhile ago, I didn’t know that his character was supposed to be gay. Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Twilight) has said it’s Disney’s first openly gay character. Well, I called the female friend I brought with me to this, and neither of us realized his character was supposed to be gay. There was one line when Gaston (Luke Evans) is spying on Belle (Emma Watson). He’s saying how he’s going to marry her, and LeFou mutters, “We don’t need her.”

Another time, after a rollicking song and dance number in the tavern, Gaston asks LeFou how it’s possible no woman has snatched him up. He gives a stammering answer that the audience will laugh at. I thought it was humorous because his character isn’t the good looking one. Now I realize…that was their attempt to show that they’re giving the public an “openly gay character.”

There’s another time during a dance number, that he starts to massage Gaston…before replacing a bum’s hands on his neck to do the job. Sorry folks, this is hardly an “openly gay” character, if two adults watching the movie didn’t even realize it. So for there to be controversy about this is silly. And for the Disney folks to act like they’re being so innovative with a “gay character” rings false.

I was a bit surprised when last year’s remake of The Jungle Book got such raved reviews. Aside from interesting graphics, it was rather weak. And to try and tackle this movie, the first animated picture to ever get a “Best Picture” nomination, is a tall order. It may not be as good as the original, but it’s serviceable. It does make me wonder why the original writer wasn’t given a screenwriting credit [one of the writers was Stephen Chbosky, who did the terrific The Perks of Being a Wallflower].

The CGI in this was terrific. It makes me wonder why it was so bad in the latest Kong picture.

The set pieces were beautifully done. All the dishes, dressers, and household objects looked magical. It doesn’t hurt that the voice work was provided by a stellar cast, which included Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Kevin Kline as Papa.

I won’t rehash the story, because everyone knows it. I will bring up something I wondered about, though. So many female critics had a problem with the movie Passengers (Chris Pratt/Jennifer Lawrence). I thought it was good, but most critics didn’t. Many felt the romance didn’t work. They incorrectly said her character suffered from Stockholm syndrome [feelings of trust or affection for the person that kidnapped you or held you hostage]. Wouldn’t that be a problem in this story? Not to mention the fact that there are a few mixed messages in this.

The beast should’ve also been a bit more charming. There was really only one moment he was actually nice to Belle. That is hardly enough for her to fall madly for this hairy creature. But we’ll let all that go. It’s just a fun, fantasy film you can sit back and enjoy.

In Jungle Book, I wished they had more songs. Luckily in this, the songs from the original were used. While listening to Emma Watson, I couldn’t help wonder — if she is happy about turning down the singing role in La La Land for this; especially since another Emma won an Oscar for the part.

The costume design was outstanding, and overall, it’s a fun time at the movies. It’s something the entire family can enjoy. If you’re somebody that thinks your children shouldn’t be exposed to a “gay character,” you’re not only doing a disservice to your kid, but it’s unnecessary. Nobody will even know that a character in this is gay.

I say bring the family, and have a gay old time.

3 stars out of 5