I was in second or third grade when the animated “Beauty and the Beast” hit theaters, so I was basically its target audience. I think that makes this nearly 34-year-old the target audience of the live action film that came out Friday, too. (At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.)

I NEVER see movies on opening weekend. I hate the crowds and have no interest in camping out for an hour for decent seats. Neither was an issue this weekend because, well, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I went with a friend and her son, and we got there so early, the previous movie hadn’t even let out yet. And we’re not talking “It had five minutes left.” It had a good 20 minutes to go.

The movie largely followed the cartoon’s story line, with a few delightful changes. (And yes, that means SPOILER ALERT. If you don’t want to hear about the changes, move on, sweet one.)

  1. The opening scenes. We see the human prince at a ball. Folks in the nearby town hate him but love his parties, so they use him for the excuse to get dressed up and dazzle. After the refuses to help the enchantress-as-beggar, which causes the whole kerfuffle to begin with, we learn that the entire town completely forgets about the prince and the castle–which makes for a particular problem for the castle staff who is married to townspeople.
  2. Maurice! I adore doddering old Maurice in the cartoon, and Kevin Kline actually improves upon him. The townspeople think he’s doddering only because of his later claims of the beast, but before this, he keeps quietly to himself. He is a doting father, but he still grieves his wife; it’s the one story he cannot bring himself to tell Belle.
  3. The beast gets a personality! This was easily my favorite added detail in the live-action film. When he gifts Belle his sexyass library, they actually discuss literature. They carefully flirt, and each realizes that there’s more to the other. During their long winter walks, they’re not just silently eyeballing the other but learning about the other. It really helps with that whole Stockholm thing.
  4. The beast shows Belle an additional trinket gifted by the enchantress to taunt him: a map that will take him wherever he wishes to go. Belle uses it to return to the home of her childhood, where she learns what happened to her mother.
  5. Morons are losing their shit over LeFou and his one-second dance with a man. After all the build up, I was insanely disappointed with how short the scene was. They don’t even show LeFou’s face during the dance, just the fellow he dances with. I got more of a gay vibe during the song “Gaston,” when LeFou sings, “And they’ll tell you whose team they prefer to be on …”
  6. The household object stars are Lumière and Maestro Cadenza. The latter, I hardly remember from the cartoon. Cogsworth is in a bunch of scenes, but he doesn’t have nearly as large a role as he did in the cartoon. Which is too bad. It’s Ian Freaking McKellen, man.

The best lines:

  • “Do you think you can grow a beard?”
  • “Someone turn me back into a clock, please.”
  • “Have you really read all of these books?” “No. Some of them are in Greek.”
  • “What’s your name?” “That’s a hairbrush.”

Anyone else see the flick this weekend? How much did you love it???


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