As most reviews have indicated, Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast stays pretty faithful to the original. Even some shots are direct mirrors from the animated classic. Still, there are a few changes. At the request of Emma Watson, Belle gets an upgrade: She’s no longer just a voracious reader, but an inventor now, too. Beast gets his own backstory, and then, of course, there’s the changes to LeFou’s story line. But mostly, the new stuff fills in some gaps in the story, explaining what happened to Belle’s missing mother and giving more detail about the enchantment that’s cursed the castle’s characters. Here’s what to expect from the updated tale as old as time. (Warning: minor spoilers.)
Belle, the Inventor
Emma Watson’s Belle is just as bookish, but now she’s an inventor, too. After greeting the day in “Belle,” our heroine attaches a cart to a mule to invent a washing machine. This movie also gives a deeper meaning to why she’s spurned by the villagers: She’s the only literate woman in a town that’s skeptical of change and knowledge. No longer the story’s main inventor, Kevin Kline’s Maurice is now an artist and music-box maker whose home is full of half-drawn portraits.
Disney’s resident alpha male bad guy gets a better deal this time around. As Gaston, Luke Evans is more ornery than menacing. At worst, he’s just another irritating fuccboi. Evans told Entertainment Weekly that there was talk about crafting a more in-depth backstory for Gaston that involved battling PTSD: “The only reason he’s got this celebrity status in Villeneuve is because when he was about 16, he protected the town from a pack of Portuguese marauders in 1740,” he said. In the end, the production chose to cut down on Gaston’s personal history to keep him just as much as a semi-lovable narcissist as before.
Maurice didn’t mean to stumble upon Beast’s enchanted castle — he was looking for food and shelter. While he’s there, he decides to take one single rose back to his beloved daughter, and that’s what earns him a life sentence in the castle dungeon. (In the animated movie, simply trespassing was enough.)
The enchantress who cursed the castle gets some more powerful magic. Not only are the prince and his castle’s staff transformed, but the stakes are a little higher. By the time the final rose petal drops, the staff won’t just stay in their furniture forms forever; they’ll fully transform into inanimate objects. Beast, too, slowly becomes more beastly with each petal drop.
Stanley Tucci plays a new supporting character in the Beauty and the Beast universe, a harpsichord who used to be ”neurotic maestro” named Cadenza. He’s in a relationship with the wardrobe Madame Gardrobe (Audra McDonald) and he has some sort of problem with his teeth.
Once upon a time, Beast was just a regular bratty kid! He loved his mom, but his stern father kept them apart while she was on her deathbed. Part of this backstory is why his servants decided to stay in the castle — and maybe why they too were cursed in the first place: Instead of living the high life elsewhere, Cogsworth & Co. feel guilty for not intervening during the Prince’s terrible childhood.
Belle and Beast’s love story gets a new key moment: As part of his curse, the enchantress gives Beast a magic book that could transport him to any destination in the world. (He hasn’t used it because he’s ashamed of his appearance.) When he shows it to Belle, they choose to travel to her childhood home on the outskirts of Paris. There, we get to the bottom of what happened to Belle’s mother: She died of the plague just after giving birth.
And, yes, LeFou gets an “exclusively gay moment”
LeFou (Josh Gad) never gets to make good on his unrequited love for Gaston. Instead, he gets to dance with one of the mob’s henchmen at Belle and the Prince’s wedding. Even he gets a happy ending this time!
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