Bon jour!

I wasn’t all that excited about rushing out to see the latest version of Beauty and the Beast, staring Emma Watson as Belle. But opening weekend a friend came over for a visit and we ended up deciding to go give the movie a try.

We got to the theater almost 40 minutes in advance on a Saturday morning and were very surprised there were only a handful of seats available, and that the theater was filled with adults; there wasn’t a child in sight. As if often the case, the theater was filled with noise from patrons during the pre-show and even the previews, but when the movie’s first scene appeared a hush fell over the crowd. And from that point on the only noises you heard with oohs and ahs, or someone softly singing along.

I wasn’t prepared to like Emma Watson as Belle, but from the first moment she appeared on screen she captivated me and the rest of the audience. I don’t know why I thought she was miscast prior to seeing the film because I believe she was simply perfect. She seemed to embody the essence of Belle; smart, a little different from the others in the village, kind and fearless. Another surprise for me was Kevin Kline as Maurice. He brought Maurice more into the forefront for me than the animated classic as a less flighty version of Belle’s father. It’s obvious she gets her kindness and gentle nature from her father, but we learn her fearlessness comes directly from her Maman.

The Beast was also perfect with just the right mixture of gruffness, shyness, anxiety over his plight, and awe that anyone (especially Belle) could ever care for him. I know this will seem like a terrible pun, but the characters were so much more “human”.

The only minor flaw for me was that I didn’t really like the characterizations (facially) of Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Chip. I thought Cogworth was done well, but there was just something that bothered me about the other three. I though Mrs. Potts and Chip were a bit cartoonish, and Lumiere’s facial features seemed rather harsh. This wasn’t really a flaw at all; minor or otherwise, just something not particularly to my liking.

Gaston and LaFou were also perfect (obviously, my favorite word when describing this picture). I know there had been a lot of controversy over the sexual orientation of LaFou’s character with a country or two banning the film as unsuitable. I can only say that Josh Gad was hysterical; stealing most of his scenes from Gaston.

One of the highlights for me at the conclusion of the film was The Beast’s transformation. I couldn’t believe how well it emulated the scene from the original. I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing Mrs. Potts, Chip, Cogsworth and Lumiere morph into their human forms. And the credits were done just the way I wanted to see them.

So another hit for Disney! I’ve already told at least a dozen non-Disney (eek!) fans at work that they really need to go see this one. For now, au revoir!

P.S. I loved it so much…. I saw it twice! The week after seeing the film for the first time, I decided I just had to see it again. I think I loved it even more the second time! I even liked the animations that I didn’t care for the first time around. I’m really happy that I saw it a second time on the big screen because it’s so visually stunning! I may even go for number three!

Jo Scholl is a long time Walt Disney fan, grateful Disney Vacation Club (DVC) owner, and proud mom to three amazing adult children, one of whom is fellow columnist Shelley Scholl. Jo is also a first time grandma to a new Disney fan, Reese Ann! And she resides with a small black dog named Mickey Mouse!

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