D.L. Stewart: A non-review of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Emma Watson in “Beauty and the Beast.” (Disney)

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Emma Watson in “Beauty and the Beast.” (Disney)

Due to a number of factors, I’m not a movie critic.

One factor is that I have a hearing loss, making it difficult to evaluate technical stuff, such as dialogue. Another is that apparently I don’t know the difference between great movies and mediocre ones. Take “Citizen Kane,” which virtually every critic agrees is the greatest movie ever. I can’t say if it was a great movie or not, because I kept falling asleep. But I really dug “The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” and don’t understand why the Oscars snubbed it.

Probably the most important factor, though, is that I have trouble explaining why I like, or don't like, a movie. So, basically, my reviews would be limited to, "I liked it," or "I didn't like it." Editors at most publications tend to expect more than that.

So this is not a review of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s merely a personal reaction to the most controversial movie of the year.

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While you might not think the last incarnation of a children’s fairy tale would be controversial, a lot of kerfuffle has been generated around the world ever since word got out that it contained, you know, “gay stuff.”

Malaysia wanted to censor it. Kuwait banned it. Authorities in Russia not otherwise occupied influencing American elections said it might violate that country's laws. The owner of an Alabama drive-in refused to show it, declaring, "If we can not take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it." A clip on Youtube included the banner, "Let Disney Turn Your Kids Gay."

Despite, or because, of all that, the movie has attracted record-breaking numbers of viewers, including my wife and me, who saw it earlier this week. And, I have to admit, it does contain “gay stuff” involving a character named LeFou, a comic sidekick who may or may not have romantic feelings for the movie’s bad guy. Sort of a Smithers to the Simpsons’ Mr. Burns. In the movie’s final minutes, it clearly shows LeFou dancing with another man, a scene that dragged on for nearly three seconds.

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There’s no telling how many kids will immediately turn gay once they’ve seen that.

The good news for grandparents who worry about men being shown dancing together is that there are alternatives. Before the feature, we saw previews of upcoming movies targeted for kids. I don't remember their names, but one showed actors with large guns fighting terrifying monsters. Another showed lots of explosions with bodies flying through the air. But no scenes of two men dancing together.

Oh, and about “Beauty and the Beast.”

I liked it.

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