Tale as old as time

Earlier this week, Brian and I had the privilege of attending a pre-screening of Beauty & the Beast in 3-D Imax.

As expected, the movie was utterly delightful. Following a similar path as live-action Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast offered a more detailed backstory for our heroine and also clued us in to more of Beast’s tale. Unlike Cinderella, the movie needed to take fewer liberties for dialogue and plot thanks to an already rich screenplay.

Belle and Beast dancing during the titular song

Fun fact: The costume designers created ethical and sustainable costumes made from fair-trade fabrics.

With 1991’s Best Picture nominee, they knew not to mess with the story too much, adding a few new musical numbers and smart character-building dialogue to the film.

The story of Belle and Beast is more developed, showing how she might be falling for him, despite the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. With lines like, “Can anyone ever really be happy when they’re not free?” and “we don’t like what we don’t understand,” and a slightly more diverse cast than the original animation, Disney is trying to fight some of the stigmas that have plagued earlier films.

Belle and Beast in the castle library

Let’s talk about that library, though. Seriously. Who wants one? Hand raises?

The music was…well, it was okay. Once you get past the auto tune job they did on Emma Watson and the weird filter they put on Dan Stevens’ vocals, the songs you know and love plus a few new tunes wrap the movie in a familiar melodic blanket. I enjoyed the new music, including Audra McDonald’s stellar performance as Madame Garderobe (Wardrobe) and a melancholy song, “Days in the Sun,” which replaces the Broadway and remastered animated song, “Human Again” – a song I wasn’t sad to see removed from this soundtrack as I never quite loved it.

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The Disney CGI magic blew me away, as usual. The beast is almost real, the castle staff is incredibly detailed and ornate in a way that adds new depth to the visuals. “Be Our Guest” was everything I hoped it would be with Ewan McGregor at the helm. The scene itself was pure Disney magic at its finest.

Gaston tries to Charm Belle with flowers

Luke Evans may have been may favorite, with my opinion of Gaston waffling from moderately attractive to completely heinous and despicable. Everything I want in a fairy tale villain. His “Mob Song” was incredible, and I’m quite sure of the solo vocals, his were my favorite closely followed by Lefou’s “Gaston.”

Of course, I’m sure you’ve heard by now of Josh Gad’s Lefou coming out of the closet he’s been living in since 1991. It’s a brief scene at the end of the movie, in which he dances with another man. Blink and you might miss it. But throughout the movie, you’ll find other adorable Lefou nuggets that are sweet and funny in a very relatable way.

Gaston and Lefou riding horses

Keep an eye out for a few nods to Watson’s breakout role as Hermione Granger, including a glimpse of Hedwig and Crookshanks.

Should you see Beauty & the Beast in 3-D? I vote no, and definitely not IMAX. While the CGI work is fantastic,  you lose some of the visuals with the rapid movement in IMAX, which I also found distracting.

Overall, a fine high-budget trip down memory lane to accommodate my generation’s obsession with nostalgia. I’ll go see it again for sure. Are you planning on checking this one out? What are you most excited about?

Fandango - Beauty and the Beast Sweepstakes
Beauty & the Beast stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast” is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, providing the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.

All images used with permission from Walt Disney Studios.

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Maleficent Has Always Been My Favorite Villainess

While no one paid me to say nice things about this movie, I did have the opportunity to check it out earlier this week at no cost to me. All promotional pictures are used with permission from Disney to write about this film.

maleficent533ef68db974e (1)I’ve told you about my Maleficent obsession right? How I was this close to “meeting” the Disney World character version of her at the Halloween party, but we got in line too late? Or how I hunted down Maleficent pins when we were at Disney like nobody’s business?

Shop Maleficent Costumes, 2014's Favorite Villainess - Girls & Womens Costumes via Trendyhalloween.com

Well since the day they announced the Maleficent movie, I’ve been obsessing. Especially because it was scheduled to come out TODAY. My birthday. It’s like someone at Disney knew this movie was made for me. And because today is quite a busy day, I was lucky enough to go see it on Wednesday night for a pre-screening where they handed out Maleficent horns and offered photo ops. Because Disney is awesome and somehow I managed to make it on their list of movie-goers.

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Brian and I both really enjoyed Maleficent for what it was, a lighthearted, yet dark, re-telling of a classic tale. I read some of the critic’s reviews last night, which I thought were kind of laughable. No, this is not a “grown-up movie,” but grown-ups who like fantasy and adventure stories will love it.

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I haven’t been an Angelina fan for the majority of her career (I’ll admit, I totally dug Tomb Raider), but she rocked this character like no one else could. She was frightening, vulnerable, and lovable all at the same time. Even as a less-evil Maleficent, the character is still my favorite villain.

maleficent531f6917afb22Brad and Angelina’s tiny human, Vivienne Jolie Pitt, was absolutely adorable in her first role. I read a really lovely article in People the other day about how they didn’t want to get the kids into acting, but it was really hard to find a toddler who wasn’t terrified of Maleficent (note: if you have tiny humans, and cartoon Maleficent scares them…this may not be the movie for them. I’d go for date night, if I were you) so they brought in Vivi, who did a lovely job.

maleficent531f691a69a55Elle Fanning’s Aurora complemented Jolie well with her bright smile and curious nature. I especially enjoyed her interaction with the creatures of the Moor.

maleficent53487af5e016fI was less a fan of the three fairies and their purpose in this version than anything else. Their visibility in the movie was brief and seemed more comical and nonsensical than purposeful. The head fairy was played by Imelda Staunton (Delores Umbridge to Harry Potter fans), which was seemingly fitting…if they hadn’t completely overhauled the fairies’ involvement in the tale. They even changed the names, which baffled me.

maleficent536acd1fc2c53The plot also changes from the original telling, and definitely changes from the Disney animation, but the idea truly resonates with the direction that Disney seems to be heading and I enjoyed that a lot. Brian noted that it was a definite female-centric movie and he couldn’t find a male character to identify with, but that he still really liked it.

Disney's "Maleficent"..Ph: Film Still..?Disney 2014The scenery and sets were stunning. I wanted to be there, and thanks to the 3D glasses, it felt like I almost was. The critics will tell you that the 3D isn’t great, but I thought it was pretty decent. I hate the swoop-de-doo that most 3D movies start with, and this movie kept it on a level ground. I liked that a lot.

So if you’re into Disney, villains, action, adventure, princesses and fairies? Go see this movie. There really is something for everyone (over the age of 8-ish). With dragons, epic battles led by a FIERCE Maleficent, magic and adventure, you’re going to love it.

Of course I wore the horns on the 20 minute walk back to the train...and the 40 minute train ride.

Of course I wore the horns on the 20 minute walk back to the train…and the 40 minute train ride.

Are you planning to go see Maleficent? What other movies are coming out this summer that make your heart go pitter-patter?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

If You Have a Soul, You’ll Love Million Dollar Arm

Maybe that title is a little much…but I REALLY enjoyed this movie. My girlfriend, CC and I went to see it earlier this week courtesy of Disney and the movie people who sometimes let me see movies before they hit the theaters.

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I saw a commercial for this movie last night and it said “audiences everywhere are cheering!” And I believed it. Because I was cheering too. This is one of those movies that hits you with all the feels. The happy, the sad, the angry, the hopeful, the funny, and the dreamy.

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Million Dollar Arm gives baseball one of its most heartwarming films since…um… if I said Rookie of the Year, would you hate me?

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This movie is the true story of sports agent, JB Bernstein, and his plot to turn 2 Indian cricket players into baseball pitchers. Not to spoil the ending for you, but he eventually succeeded, and in the process, became a better human being for it. I LOVE true stories with happy endings and a real life love story (oh yeah, there’s that too).

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Of course, CC and I were laughing more than anyone else in the theater…but we didn’t care. There were some great fish out of water moments that had us in stitches.

So go see this. If you have a soul, you’ll adore Million Dollar Arm.

I did.

No one paid me to say nice things. The images used in this post are borrowed with permission from Disney. I have a soul. It feels happy when I share movies I adore.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!