If You Don’t Like Beauty And The Beast, You’re A Monster
Remember why we go to the movies.
I’ll say no spoilers ahead, not because you already know the story, but because there’s nothing I could say that would in any way reduce the potent magic created by Beauty And The Beast that you must absolutely see in the theater.
Yes, I said magic. This is Disney. This is fairy tale. We’re not attending a lecture on the history of the nocturnal river possum, we’re at the movies. Magic is the goal. Magic is the point. Allow your eyes and ears to indulge in the utter wonder you’re witnessing on screen and leave your cynicism, your criticism, your disdain for life back on Twitter where it belongs. This movie is where you go to see the beautiful impossible. Ten un-ironic points to Gryffindor.
You know the music, you know the story, but in this light, with this level of detail and deference, you forget you’ve ever heard a story at all. Don’t anticipate, just relax and enjoy. I certainly did, and will do so several times again before it leaves the theater. Yes, even at today’s prices. Happy hour cocktails, morning coffees, and impulse Amazon Prime beauty product purchases can’t hold a talking candle to how happy I’m made by Beauty And The Beast.
I won’t insult the outstanding cast by saying something like, “they were actually good!” Of course they were. It’s Hermione. It’s Sir Matthew. It’s a 6x Tony award winner. It’s that hot guy that plays the bad guy in more movies than you can name. Did you think Disney would call in the junior varsity squad for this one? These are professionals. They came to work.
Beauty And The Beast (the cartoon one you hopefully saw as child in 1991 before the internet came and turned us all into over-entertained curmudgeons), was the first Disney film to use a screenwriter. It’s successor has a pretty good one, too. You will laugh at this. You will be charmed by this. If you have some semblance of a soul steeped in nostalgia, you’ll cry a little, too.
They’re tears of gratitude. Tears of well-honored memory. Tears of joy shed because something you wanted to be really good that reminds you of something else really good isn’t just really good, it’s outstanding. This movie will make you really happy. I suggest you let it.
The moments you want to see in “real life,” as opposed to hand-drawn cartoon, are all there. The Beast sticks his face in his soup. Belle takes a giant snowball to the face. Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts bring laughter and warmth, sometimes literally, to the story. “Be Our Guest” puts the most expensive ticket in Vegas to shame. Gaston is a gorgeous tool. It’s all there. Bonus: LeFou isn’t annoying in this one!
I hadn’t intended to say anything about Beauty And The Beast. Some stories and films don’t need commentary, they simply deserve our attention. But a Medium email hit my inbox this morning with the subject line “Beauty and the Beast’ Is Plain Boring” published in The Ringer by K. Austin Collins, and I thought to myself good god, people are going to internet all over this, aren’t they?
Please don’t read critiques. Don’t even listen to me. As with anything rooted in childhood memory, consuming it is bound to be a very personal experience. I invite and urge you to have that experience. Attend with your least cynical companion. Go alone, if you’re nervous. For the love of all that doesn’t have an “on” button don’t go to this film wondering how you’ll post about it on social media later. Just enter with an open, non-judgmental heart and a willingness to be entertained without some secondary goal in mind.
If, after that, you don’t find Beauty And The Beast as magically satisfying as I did, comment below and tell me how my delusions, my unworthy praise, my conjuring of delight to fit my own expectations are all folly. If you think you can, if you think you need to, break the spell. Be my guest.