Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Beauty And The Beast 3D

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Title: Beauty and the Beast 3D

Hey, This Movie's 20 Years Old, What Gives? It's 3D, nimrod. That's, like...a whole new movie.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Four-and-a-half Gaston chins out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: A New York cosmetologist mistakenly thought to be a science teacher is offered a job to teach the children of an Eastern European dictator. Oh, my bad. That's the plot to The Beautician and the Beast.

Tagline: " The most beautiful love story ever told."

Better Tagline: "Seriously, how does a candelabra have sex with a feather duster? This movie is preposterous."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Belle (Paige O'Hara) is bored with life in the provincial French town where she lives with her inventor father. Fate intercedes when Dad is imprisoned by the ferocious Beast (Robby Benson) and she agrees to swap places with him. Unbeknownst to her, the Beast is actually a prince, cursed to live as a monster until he can find true love.

"Critical" Analysis: I don't know how much there is to say about Disney's most critically acclaimed (pre-Pixar) film of the last 30 years. The story is engaging and well-paced, the music of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (their last collaboration; Ashman died eight months before the film's release) is wonderful, and the voice talent in any animated Disney film has rarely been as entertaining. In my opinion, it's the studio's finest effort.

Yeah, I'm not really going out on a limb there. After all, Beauty and the Beast was the *only* animated movie ever nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award until they expanded to ten nominees in 2009 and Up made the cut. But even if you're a parent like me and have probably endured dozens of viewings, you still find yourself singing along to "Gaston" (we actually made up a drinking game involving the character in college) and getting that unexpected swell of emotion when Belle sings about wanting "adventure in the great wide somewhere." What can I say? Having kids turns you into a fucking sap.

And it isn't flawless. BatB was Disney's first stab at incorporating computer animation and the results are, now, pretty primitive. I recall thinking the dancing forks during "Be Our Guest" and the chandelier in the ballroom scene looked pretty bad, and time has not been kind. Still, those are momentary distractions.

The larger issue surrounding this particular re-release is the 3D. Generally, I think the technology is pretty pointless. At best, it offers some brief "wow" moments. At worst, it renders everything murky and causes headaches. I can say the three-dimensional treatment given here is largely unobtrusive. It's most noticeable during the exterior establishing shots and the bigger musical numbers and remains non-confrontational the rest of the time. The biggest problem you're likely to have is getting little kids to keep those stupid glasses on.

If you haven't seen the movie on the big screen (guilty until last week), you really owe it to yourself to check it out. At some point after The Lion King (I'd peg it to the release of The Emperor's New Groove), Disney apparently decided they didn't care much about releasing expansive, theatrical pictures. I don't want to denigrate animated features by comparing them negatively to "real" movies, but watching Beauty and the Beast in a theater definitely makes it feel less like a "cartoon" and more like a significant work of cinema.

Cogsworth poking Le Fou in the butt with a sword aside.

Beauty and the Beast 3D is in theaters today. If you're going to play the "Gaston" drinking game, try to do it at a later screening. Fewer kids that way.

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