Sprudge contributor Eric J. Grimm sneaks coffee in tho Manhattan's finest movie parlors for this, an ongoing series of film criticism on Sprudge. Today it's cold brew & whiskey at Disney's new live action version of Beauty & The Beast.
First, an apology to the friendly barista at Toby’s Estate in Flatiron who served me the cold brew that got me through Disney’s polished teapot of nostalgia masquerading under the familiar title, Beauty and the Beast. That gentle soul caught me in a fragile moment, and I did not get his name, having lost myself in preparation for a film I knew was not for me. (I’m the guy who took three naps during Cinderella and walked out of The Jungle Book.)
Disney’s cynical and ugly remakes of its glorious animated classics are endurance tests for me; I prefer their modern cutesy odes to diversity and non-romantic fulfillment like Zootopia or Moana. He who decanted my cold brew knew not that he was nobly freeing me from the misery of 2+ hours of dogmatic faithfulness to source material in desperate need of updating. I chose cold brew, because, like Disney remakes, it is very much for some people, but not really my thing.
Moreover, cold brew mixes well with whiskey.
Just a block away from Toby’s Flatiron location is the AMC Loews 19th St. East 6, where the crew was having a hell of a time trying to show the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast redux on Thursday night. After a projector mishap delayed the presentation considerably, my companion and I were offered tickets to a 3D version of the film, which played in the theater next door. By this time, we had finished over half of our cold brew and whiskey mixture and were giddily anxious to see how Disney interpreted their 1991 animated classic in flesh-plus-CGI form in 2017.
Often seeing lightly textured images with double vision, I was determined to mine this glossy digital monster for overt progressive sentiment. Once I got past the fact that it looked like an expensive allergy commercial, I discovered just how Teen Vogue woke this new Beauty was.
For one thing, there are some black people in it. Of course, none of them are core cast members. They play the likes of the librarian (Ray Fearon), armoire (Audra McDonald), and feather duster (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the latter two of which seldom appear in human form. And then, there’s the much ballyhooed gay character, LeFou (Josh Gad), who appears in classic sissy form early on before he receives what has been termed an “exclusively gay moment” that’s blink-or-you’ll-miss-it in the finale.
Upon LeFou’s sanitized network television gay arrival, my drunk mind wandered and started to take inventory of all the actual homosexuals in this production. Luke Evans, who plays handsome-ish villain, Gaston, is a confirmed homosexual. Ian McKellen, also an authentic gay person, plays Cogsworth the bottom-heavy clock, though he would’ve made a fine Lumiere, the three-pronged Liberace fantasy of a phallic candelabra. While neither Stanley Tucci (Cadenza) nor Kevin Kline (Maurice) are truly gay, both made a career of playing homosexuals, and Kline often presents as effeminate, though marrying very convincing beautiful beard Phoebe Cates has been enough to throw us off the scent. The director, Bill Condon, is gay, and of course they're all singing songs written by the late great lyricist Howard Ashman—you could argue the songs are why this thing got re-made in the first place.
This is about as adventurous as Beauty No. 2 gets. Emma Watson (Belle) prettily auto–tunes her way through familiar tunes that are more bittersweet than strange. Computer-generated objects scream-sing “Be Our Guest” in the most unwelcome banquet imaginable. Just when you think you might have the hots for that almost-lifelike ripped bear of a beast (Dan Stevens), he turns into a bland twink and you’re forced to abandon lust for antiquated ideas about Stockholm-syndrome romance.
It’s a tale as old AF and one that whiskey and cold brew make barely tolerable.
Cupping Score: 75
Notes: Did someone forget to rinse the filter? This film tastes papery, musty and stale.