This past weekend, I was one of the millions of people who piled into a very crowded movie theater (behind a birthday party full of restless, giggly 6-year old girls, no less) to see Beauty and the Beast. And boy, I am so glad I did. I honestly haven’t smiled so much through a movie in a really long time, which is why I’m surprised so many people are reacting so negatively to it.

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Without giving away too much, this live-active Beauty and the Beast mirrors the animated feature pretty closely, with Emma Watson as the perfect Belle, including her sweet voice which I found to be innocently perfect. Granted, if you were expecting a huge Broadway-style voice (which has not been Disney’s m.o. as of late, by the way), you might be disappointed. But this former music professor heartily approves of her pipes.

I just loved her portrayal of nerdy bookworm Belle, though I thought she came off as much more independent and fearless than I remember in the original.

She’s supported by brilliant performances from a wonderful cast, including Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Josh Gad (Olaf!), Ewan McGregor, Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson, Luke Evans, and Dan Stevens (Cousin Matthew!), who tell the story quite closely, if not exactly, at times, to the original that we all know and love, save a few new songs and a couple of moments to give a little back story on the Beast and Belle. I’m not completely sure they were necessary or even added anything to the movie, but they certainly didn’t take away from it, at least for me.

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I will say that a few scenes might be a little scarier for younger kids in the live-action movie, like when Belle’s father and Belle herself have a run-in with the wolves, and of course, when Gaston battles and then kills the Beast, though in this version, with a gun versus a knife in the animated feature.


Beauty and the Beast review: Lefou and Gaston

And those controversial gay scenes? There’s nothing new in this movie between LeFou and Gaston that wasn’t in the original, so I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

If it’s not clear from my humble review, I loved the live action Beauty and the Beast, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Consequently, so did my kids, including my tween daughter. So there, critics! It’s a wonderful walk down memory lane, with a positive message I’m more than happy to have reinforced for my girls and my son.