I had somewhat strong hopes for Bill Condon's live-action adapation of "Beauty and the Beast," but those hopes were drowned somewhere near the start of this expansive, but middling film. The songs are, as always great, but, let's get real here folks, this is practically a shot for shot remake of the 1991 classic. Albeit with a few new tunes added into the second half, but this is a predictable yarn of a film that just doesn't give us anything new or fresh.
It actually made me appreciate even moreso last year's much more succesful rehash of "The Jungle Book," no thanks to the visual prowess of its director Jon Favreau. Nostaligiasts will no doubt eat up Condon's film, but there's someting almost too cold and calculated about the whole proceedings. I will say that the film does pick up and try new things in its second half, which ends up being much more succesful than the first hour. Emma Watson is great, isn't she always, and the rest of the cast is delivers, especially Luke Evans as Gaston who brings out all the machismo related to the character in effective ways.
Suffice to say, "Beauty and the Beast" is not entirely a failure, but what it does fail at is in its supposed attempt to have the first gay Disney character, Josh Gad's Le Fou. There are barely any hints that he is even gay. Le Fou is curiously un-changed from the original film's pages. I'm dumbfounded by Disney claiming this is their first gay character. I then stumbled upon a Time magazine article which had Gad saying he actually had no idea reading the script that the character was even gay.
Time Magazine has the whole thing going like this:
"Beauty and the Beast" fans were thrilled this week when they learned LeFou, sidekick to villain Gaston, would be the first openly gay character for the live-action version of the film. Director Bill Condon alluded to "a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie" involving the character. But Josh Gad, the actor who plays LeFou, said that "there was nothing in the script that said ‘LeFou is gay'," according to USA Today. Condon himself added that his initial comments about LeFou's sexuality had been "a little overstated."
Of course, now Bill Condon saying his comments were taken completely out of context aren't surprising. Neither is the fact that a theater in Alabama is banning all showings of the film (Link) due to its "compromise on what the Bible teaches." Don't you just love this country?
I'll leave you with a quote from a commenter on this trivial matter:
"This is so stupid and I'm gay. Like, are we supposed to be surprised or honored that here is a gay character? Newsflash, Lefou was always gay, even in the animated movie where it was very clear he had the hots for Gaston so this whole uproar is such an exaggeration. What happened to just keeping it ambiguous like a ton of characters used to be? Plato in Rebel Without a Cause was gay but he never needed to say it because the filmmakers thought the public was smart enough to get the hint and it was the 50s so being gay was banned from being shown on Film. And is it even positive representation to have a gay character be fat, short, ugly and submissive to a narcissistic, villanous hunk? I don't think so."