Beauty and the Beast

This story from France always feels like a first cousin to my Scandinavian favorite "East of the Sun and West of the Moon," but it certainly enjoys wider distribution. This movie is a delight from beginning to end, although personally, I could have done without verses three and four in some of those songs. ...yawn.

It was fun to smile at the various movies that received a teeny homage, I'll let you discover them for yourself. And any child knows our two leads are meant for each other when it is revealed that they both love to read.

Director Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls") has taken Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulis' script which has been updated from the Disney's 1991 animated version. They added a new song or two and created eye candy for the millennium.

The cast:
  • Emma Watson ("Harry Potter") is Belle, the young woman who is derided in her village because she is "different." She lives with her widowed father, reads books, and (gasp!) teaches little girls to read.
  • Kevin Kline ("Ricki and the Flash") is her father Maurice. He is a craftsman, a tinkerer, and a proud, loving father.
  • Luke Evans ("The Girl on the Train") is Gaston, the egotistical bully who has set his lusty sights on our heroine, to her disgust!
  • Dan Stevens ("Night at the Museum 3" he's hilarious!) Beast is a prisoner in his own castle, bewitched (along with his household staff) by an evil spell that will become permanent when the last petal falls off that rose.
  • Josh Gad ("Frozen") LeFou is Gaston's toady, always ready with flattery and groveling.
The story is unchanged and the production values are spectacular. The script is PG due to a couple of hair-raising flights through some dark woods with wolves in hot pursuit. The voice artists are well-known actors who are given a curtain call and just a bit of live action right at the end. They include Ewan McGregor (Lumière), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Ian McKellan (Cogsworth), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe), and Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza). I don't know who played that yappy little footstool, but he was a delight. Celine Dion does the honors with the main theme song. What a classic!

If you like beautiful clothes, lovely landscapes, elaborate sets and musical set pieces, look for this at your nearest multiplex.

Our early matinee audience at Seattle's Cinerama, applauded at the end.
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Here is just a sample:
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