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Posted on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 10:00 am

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a walk down memory lane


Kali Bradford


It’s hard to beat an original. Books, recipes and, for the purposes of this column, movies. With an original you get … well … originality. A vulnerability that says, “We are just going to put this out here and hope everyone likes it.”

There are uncertainties and guesses that turn into favorite moments, scenes, most-played songs and more. There’s no real formula for success yet, so there’s nothing to shove down its audience’s throat, and that’s what makes it so good.

I recently saw the new “Beauty and the Beast” film with my daughters. Truthfully, when I heard Disney was doing a remake with a live cast, I just rolled my eyes.

There’s no way it could be better than the animated version.

I was around 8 years old when the original film was released, which was 1991 in case anyone is wondering. While I was never that little girl who got into the whole “princess scene,” I did really enjoy the movie.

Lumière and Cogsworth were a joy to watch sing and dance. And, of course, with Angela Lansbury’s voice as Mrs. Potts, one couldn’t help but

Disney’s animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” was released in 1991.

fall in love with that.

There was also the romance between Belle and the Beast, which, while sappy to my 8-year-old tomboy self, actually had me smiling at the end when they got together.

And then there’s the song. While Angela Lansbury nailed it hands down in the movie, my favorite version to this day is “Beauty and Beast” by Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson. It just doesn’t get any better.

So when the new version was released I wondered how it would compare to the original.

Turns out, even better than I could have imagined.

Let’s break it down.

The 2017 version of “Beauty and the Beast” stars “Harry Potter’s” Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens from “Downton Abbey” as The Beast.

Cast. Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson and the list goes on. I don’t know who told them, but they managed to get almost every single one of my favorite actors into one movie. Add Viggo Mortensen and I don’t know if I could have handled it.

All of their characters shone brilliantly. If I had to pick one, I’d say Ian McKellen wins. Chalk it up to his first capturing my devotion as Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings.” He can do no wrong.

“Be Our Guest.” The original scene where Lumière woos Belle in her first night at the enchanted castle is pretty fantastic. For the new version, they have made it even better. Swirling dishes, napkins and you name it all dancing to one of the movie’s most beloved songs.

What’s even better is that it doesn’t look as if they have overdone the special effects. It was my favorite part of the movie … really second to the kiss at the end. I think my 8-year-old self is OK with me saying that.

Emma Watson. She was terrific. Her character was strong, fearless and independent — everything a heroine should be and, of course, she saves her prince in the end.

I really have to give Disney credit for allowing Watson to shine. This is a character I wouldn’t mind my daughters emulating.

“Beauty and the Beast.” So how did the movie do with my favorite song? Well, Emma Thompson, who plays Mrs. Potts, nailed it. If you don’t tear up, you are missing out. However, I’m going to have to say that I can’t handle the new pop version with Ariana Grande and John Legend. My heart belongs to Céline and Peabo.

Overall, do yourselves and your kids a favor and see it. While it is a little long for some in the younger crowd, for those of us who fell in love with the original as a kid, it a cherished walk down memory lane.

Kali Bradford may be reached at tnlifest@lcs.net.