Beauty and the Beast
"Maybe there's something there that wasn't there before..."
So sang the CGI anthropomorphic teapot in Bill Condon's live action version of "Beauty and the Beast," to which I replied with a skeptical, "Really?" Yes, this spectacle has more flash, more flair and more budget than Disney's 1991 animated classic, but while watching it I experienced no dividends from these extravagances. Where the recent live action versions of "Cinderella" and "The Jungle Book" felt fresh and exhilarating in their reimagining, "Beauty and the Beast" feels like a carbon copy-earnest karaoke aimed to please those looking to watch what essentially becomes a more expensive version of the first. Contrary to the teapot's melody, there's not much here that wasn't there before.
The tale is still as old as time and the song still old as rhyme. Belle is still a bookworm deemed peculiar in her small village, but not as peculiar as her inventor father. There are still Inanimate objects brought to life, inviting Belle to be their guest (under imprisonment) so she can fall in love with a giant man-bison. Still, nobody is as slick as Gaston, as quick as Gaston or highlights the ugliness of misogyny and rape culture quite like Gaston.
But in the end, all we get is a few new songs and an "exclusively gay character," which is one of the most overblown PR moves I've ever seen in my movie-going career. The rest feels shot-for-shot and uninspired, and everything that ultimately proves delightful feels familiar in that glee. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but here it feels more like flatulence.