If you are going to make a live-action remake of a beloved Disney classic, then there are two aspects that you better get right, the characters and the music. Fortunately, Beauty and the Beast nailed both. This movie was perfectly cast. While there are several good pieces that come together to make this remake great, the casting alone (and performances) is one of the best parts of the movie.
Emma Watson was a fantastic Belle. While I have seen some criticisms of her performance, I must disagree. I found her performance to be both engaging and charming. The audience cared for her, and not just because she was Belle. Admittedly, Watson started with a bit of an advantage over our standard heroine. We already cared for Belle as a character, while other heroines must earn our favor starting from nothing. But Watson didn’t rest on this; she took it upon herself to honor the original character of Belle yet earn our emotions for her version of Belle. Now, I will confess that I was not charmed with her Belle until she became a prisoner at the castle. I was not disenchanted, just kinda neutral. More specifically, her interaction with Gaston in front of her house felt much more scripted than it did organic. But once she arrived at the castle and began interacting with the enchanted (cursed, rather) household objects, I was sold. It was at this point for me that Watson really started to feel like Belle. Oh! Side note, that is actually much more important than a simple side note: her singing was incredible.
We Tolkien fans will instantly recognize Gaston as having played Bard in the questionable renditions of the remarkable book The Hobbit. Or, as my wife likes to call him, Da’, because of the way his kids pronounce “Dad” throughout The Hobbit movies. I actually had to look up his real name because that is all we know him as. Anyhow, Luke Evans (nailed it) was remarkable. I had faith in his acting ability because, despite the arguable quality of the movies as a whole, his performance in The Hobbit films was quite good. But the first time I heard him sing, I was blown away. Although, a very good friend of mine did mention how we should have expected Bard to be a good singer… Moving on, an honorable mention must be given to Ewan McGregor as the voice of Lumiere. It was easy to see why he was so well liked by all in the castle because he was instantly and continuously likeable. Also, that is not his original accent, which I find to be quite impressive. I know, nearly every main character spoke in an accent that was not their own, but a Scottish man sounding authentically French really stood out to me.
The previous performances were great, but my favorite (and the one I found to be the most impressive) was Josh Gad’s performance as LeFou. He was LeFou, in all ways imaginable. He looked like the original LeFou. He captured the original character’s abusive superior/doting servant relationship with Gaston with great precision. And, much like Watson did with Belle, he added his own charm to the role, which allowed for moments of hilarity throughout the remake that we don’t have in the original. In the original film throughout the bar scene, LeFou is no more than a vessel for physical abuse used to provide comedy. However, in this remake, he practically carries the entire scene. I found myself looking forward to when he would be on screen next. And we rarely left a scene with LeFou in it in which the audience did not laugh. He just brought so much depth to the character that cannot (or is much more difficult to) be found in the original. I am not faulting the original version for this because I don’t actually find it to be a flaw; rather, I am drawing this contrast to point out what Josh Gad brought to this movie.
Not only did flawless casting allow the Beauty and the Beast remake to accurately represent the original characters, but each reinvented version of the original songs was truly beautiful. I particularly enjoyed “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest”. Again, Gad’s role in the bar scene was something special. LeFou being in control and leading that song allowed Gaston the freedom to be selfish and focus on displaying his emotions, starting from downtrodden and pitiful and ending at arrogant and inspired (by himself). As I’ve said before, my technical knowledge of the fine arts is quite limited. I am more familiar with the aggressive negotiations (thank you, Anakin Skywalker) of the athletic realm. But of what I could tell, the choreography for the song “Gaston” was astounding. My favorite dance scene is still the Planetarium scene from La La Land, but the action and passion shown in “Gaston” was impressive. There are two reasons I liked “Be Our Guest”. First, Lumiere is a great host, both for Belle and the audience. I truly enjoyed being his guest. Second, Belle’s genuine delight was fun to see. It was during this scene that I fully bought into Emma Watson’s Belle. While she began winning me over with her first interaction with Lumiere, I had no more reservations after this scene. The Beauty and the Beast remake had to get the characters and music right to be successful, and I believe that they definitely nailed both.
My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. Did you enjoy this remake? Was there something in particular you did/didn’t enjoy? Which Disney remake are you hoping for next? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!
Next week: Ocean’s Eleven