21NEW YORK (CNS) — Disney’s live-action adaptation of its beloved 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast” arrives in theaters amid a swirl of controversy over the updating of one of its characters into an openly gay man.
The decision of the studio, director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”), and screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos to reimagine LeFou (Josh Gad), sidekick of the villainous Gaston (Luke Evans), as Disney’s so-called “first gay character” is a regrettable one. A cherished family film has, in essence, been appropriated for an underlying agenda that is firmly at odds with Christian values.
Parents will have a hard time explaining to their kids — as most know the cartoon by heart — why LeFou has jumped on the homosexual bandwagon. His amorous advances to Gaston, proud display of a bite mark from Gaston on his stomach (due to “wrestling”), and ultimate dance in the arms of another man will raise eyebrows, to say the least.
Admittedly, many grown moviegoers will take LeFou’s transformation in stride. “Beauty and the Beast,” however, is a must-see film intended for children. Given the clear intent to make a statement with the character in question, the restrictive classification assigned below is a caution for viewers of faith, especially parents.
The pall cast over “Beauty and the Beast” is unfortunate, as the film is largely an imaginative and engaging work with an arresting visual style. An old-fashioned Hollywood musical at heart, it brims with familiar songs by Alan Menken and whirling dance sequences worthy of Busby Berkeley.
Like the cartoon, this film is loosely based on the 1740 fairy tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. The eponymous lovely, Belle (Emma Watson), is a spirited maiden in a French village who longs for excitement.
“I want adventure in the great-wide somewhere,” she warbles. “I want so much more than they’ve got planned!”
Be careful what you wish for, dearie. No sooner does she spurn the advances of the vain hunter Gaston than Belle winds up imprisoned in a haunted castle, having swapped places with her kidnapped father, Maurice (Kevin Kline).
Enter said Beast (Dan Stevens), aka The Prince. We learn in an extended prologue that this handsome royal was transferred into a horned (but infinitely more dapper) version of Chewbacca from the “Star Wars” franchise by Agathe (Hattie Morahan), a local enchantress, as punishment for his selfishness.
Agathe’s curse extended to The Prince’s staff, who became not furry creatures but household objects. These exceedingly loquacious items include Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), a stuffy mantel clock; Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), a dancing candelabra; twirling feather duster Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw); Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), a motherly teapot, and her cup of a son, Chip (Nathan Mack); and musical duo Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), a harspichord, and Garderobe (Audra McDonald), a wardrobe.
Only if Beauty grows to love the Beast will the spell be broken, which seems a very long shot for this odd couple. A courtship ensues — with a nice lesson on looking beyond outward appearances for true love — until a vengeful Gaston raises an angry mob to kill the Beast, casting doubt (for newcomers, at least) on a happy ending.
Even in the absence of the hot-button issue already discussed, young children might be frightened by several dark moments in the movie, including attacks by wolves and Gaston’s violent assault on the Beast’s castle.
The film contains a few scenes of peril and action violence, a benign view of homosexual activity, and some sexual innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: A story of love, race and world politics in ‘A United Kingdom’
NEXT: Misunderstanding of Catholic scholarship mars book on Bible’s influence
Sigh, even the Pope has told you that homosexuality is a relatively minor issue facing the church these days. There is SOOO much more we can do in this world to make it a better place than boycotting a movie with all inclusive messages that love is right no matter color or sex. (Note the 2 bi-racial couples in the film, another first for Disney) It also shows that same villain rejecting evil and being accepted. Yet all you take from it is that he was gay. If you didn’t get that from the cartoon version, you were blind. I totally saw that one coming.
Maybe you ought to read the catechism of the Catholic Church–#2357 to #2359—“Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” AGAPE love—yes. Nothing more than that.
Article states: “Beauty and the Beast,” however, is a must-see film intended for children.” HA! After warning us of the homosexual character that is now depicted in the film, why would a Catholic publication say that it is a “must-see” film????? I DON’T THINK SO! WHY would a practicing Catholic take his/her children to such a film?? Article says it has “problematic content” — so no one should bother going to see this film.
Attacking wolves and violent assaults are frightening and can be harmful for children’s viewing but calling a gay character regrettable is too, too judgmental. ‘Everything that God made is good.’ and ‘all men are created equal’.
NO LOGICAL THINKING HERE IN YOUR STATEMENTS.
You type: “Everything God made is good”.
But MAN has desecrated SOME PARTS OF CREATION AND GOD’S ORIGINAL INTENT OF MARRIAGE when homosexual “unions” are made. MARRIAGE IS ONLY BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN.
And because of that one exception the movie needs to be boycotted.
Charles, you are TOTALLY right!