Beauty and the Beast: Not for kids?

As I was sitting in the cinema with my wife and eldest daughter, something was nagging me about this new version of Beauty and the Beast. Actually, a lot of things were bothering me.

Let me start off by saying that, taken in its entirety, Beauty and the Beast is a good film. In fact, it manages to pull of many of the magical moments seen in the 1991 version. The centrepiece ballroom dance is so dope that it managed to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Emma Watson’s inaugural song (the “provincial life” one) is surprisingly good and Olaf… I mean Josh Gad’s Gaston number nearly hits the right notes.

But man, there are just too many moments. There are too many odd decisions, odd acting… just… this film is odd. I think my biggest issue is with the tone of this film – it is far too dark. Some scenes are far to violent, the dialogue in places feel far too adult. Everything scene that featured Luke Evans’ Gaston gave me pause. I get that parents are sitting in the cinema with their kids, but these PG moments felt PG-13.

Oh and this film’s pacing is also a major problem. This film is over two hours – the original was just under an hour and a half. Why couldn’t they cut Beast’s Evermore song? That moment was so awkward, people started laughing in the cinema. Each wolves scene could have been shortened and made less violent.

It’s a shame because when Bill Condon gets it right, the film shows that it wasn’t far off. The way Belle and Dan Steven’s Prince relationship develops is far better than how it is done in the cartoon version. The subplot about Belle’s mother adds weight to Watson’s character and that of Kevin Kline’s. The enchantress’ curse is made more tangible and meaningful. If only Condon could have cut the fluff.

I still believe this film is worth watching, but beware, if you are taking a kid, there is a real chance this will scare them. Or you might find yourself having to explain awkward sections of this film. Or worst still,  it could send you to sleep.

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