Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast sparked plenty of buzz when it came out in theaters, partially thanks to the controversy of its alleged homosexual agenda. Now that it’s streaming on Netflix, here’s our review on the film’s suitability for Catholic families.
by Adrienne Thorne
I’ve heard a lot of varying reactions to Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake. I’m talking thoughts that are so radically different they span the range of “it was so beautiful that I cried” to “it is evil and terrible.” Well, most of the evil-callers actually had not seen the movie and were just appalled at the supposed celebration of homosexuality it contained. There was even a movement to boycott the movie (complete with a petition) when it was in theaters, and a couple of foreign countries decided to ban the film over the matter.
Now that the movie is on Netflix, I decided to see for myself.
I have to say, controversy aside, I did enjoy the movie more than I had predicted.
It’s extremely similar to the animated version, but with a couple new musical numbers (most of which felt pretty unneeded). What I felt was the strongest addition, though, was more development to the characters and the love story.
I’ve heard this version’s Belle called “feminist,” and I have to say that’s kind of silly, at least in the sense that the term is generally used today. Really she is just more developed and took more action than the cartoon version. So I guess if by feminist you mean she has a brain, then sure.
We also get more backstory on the beast, and more insight into his growing feelings than we got in that little “There’s something there that wasn’t there before…” montage in the animated version.
And then there’s Gaston. You know, the villain? The guy we’re supposed to hate? Well, he’s kind of awesome in this version.
Now, that probably sounds like I’m some kind of heartless serial killer in the making, and granted he did become a true villain by about halfway through when he started doing the same type of bad-guy stuff he did in the animated movie (especially toward Belle’s dad). But for a while there, he was really a pretty sympathetic guy. And I have to say, his musical number (you now, the one that goes, “No one fights like Gaston, douses lights like Gaston… I’m especially good at expectorating!” and “I use antlers in all of my decorating…” – is it in your head yet?) was by far my favorite.
The Controversial Issue
Of course before I watched this, I heard and read all about the supposed “gay moment” when Gaston’s sidekick LeFou is seen dancing with another dude at the end. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say I would have missed it if I hadn’t known it was coming, but the homosexual agenda was definitely not as overwhelming an issue as it was made out to be.
The funny thing is, the brief shot where they show LeFou dancing with a guy felt totally out of place and forced. Like they’d already finished showing shots of everyone else dancing around and were focusing on the main couple—oh and wait, gotta show these guys dancing together!
Now, the whole way through the movie there are hints that he’s kind of effeminate, but it is actually even mentioned that he has dated women in the past, and it really just comes across like he has a heterosexual man-crush on Gaston the whole time.
Here’s what I think happened. Someone wrote the script for this adaptation. The director gets this idea to throw a homosexual agenda in there and puts LeFou dancing with a dude at the end, and they go to the press with how the movie is a celebration of gay rights or what have you. Everyone jumps on it, either in condemnation or celebration, and suddenly the movie gets ten thousand times more attention than the massive amount it would have gotten.
That is precisely why I avoided talking about the movie online or signing any kind of petition against it while it was in theaters. Because petitions against some evil or terrible thing in a movie or show actually just make it that much more successful. There’s kind of no such thing as bad press when it comes to Hollywood (possibly excluding criminal acts—possibly).
So, Should Our Kids Watch It?
My toddler is 3. We were hesitant to let him watch it before we saw for ourselves how blatant an agenda it really had. Now that I saw, I’m pretty sure he would have totally missed it, given his age.
That being said, there are a few issues to consider when deciding whether to let your kids of various ages watch it or not:
The climactic fight seen between the Beast and Gaston at the end (you know, the one where Gaston falls to his grisly death even in the cartoon? Ah, the G-ratings of the 90s…) is pretty intense for any little kid.
There is a weird thing during the Gaston song where they sing, “No one bites in a fight like Gaston,” and LeFou lifts up his shirt, like he’s showing bite marks on his tummy from Gaston or something. It’s kind of weird and seems sexual, which makes absolutely no sense, considering that Gaston is going on about how he’s in love with Belle and therefore is obviously not into guys.
There’s also a part where LeFou is trying to calm Gaston down by reminding him of happy times, things like war and the widows he is able to console during war times. Eh, a little squeamy if you ask me.
And of course, depending on your child’s age, observational skills and level of knowledge about the goings-on in our modern society, they may or may not wonder why that silly guy is dancing with another man at the end dance scene.
It’s a hard call. I’m glad I didn’t spend money on it, since someone did obviously intend to add a homosexual agenda to it. But I don’t think the whole movie is ruined by it. It does still have beautiful visuals, a pure romantic love story and a good amount of fun. Mostly, I feel like it’s kind of unfortunate that we have to be discerning on whether or not to let our kids watch.
For more info, here’s the Catholic News Service review on the film (I was surprised to see that they’re actually harder on it than I am).
Adrienne Thorne blogs at Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic’s Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.