The Perils of Nostalgia-Fueled Films
My kids and I went to see two movies recently that were fueled by nostalgia for me and pretty much everyone else in my age group: Power Rangers and Beauty and the Beast.
I’ll be honest and say that I wouldn’t have gone to see Power Rangers if A) we hadn’t been invited by a friend of my son’s and B) my daughter wasn’t obsessed with them. I wasn’t a huge fan of the show at the time it first aired, but my brother was, and so I saw enough episodes to have a rough idea of the premise and characters.
On the other hand, I was pretty much obsessed by Beauty and the Beast as a kid and a teen. (And, let’s face it, I still am as an adult). I loved the cartoon, and the musical came to Broadway when I was in high school and we went to see it. I have read at least twenty different adaptations of the story (not including ones that use it as inspiration–I can’t even count those) and I pretty much adore them all.
But I kinda hated the Beauty and the Beast movie and I thought the Power Rangers movie was surprisingly well-written and acted.
Hate is probably too strong a word for Beauty and the Beast. I was disappointed. My expectations were, perhaps, unreachably high. But I was particularly gutted by the loss of my two absolute favorite songs from the musical, “Home,” and “If I Can’t Love Her.” Now, let’s be honest. Emma Watson is a fine actress, but vocally she is not up to the task of Belle (especially in a movie where we get to listen to Audra McDonald). So I can understand cutting “Home,” because she would have to carry that all by herself, unlike most of the other songs where her bits are either short or cut up by other people singing. But I thought that Dan Stevens was a surprisingly talented singer and he could absolutely have carried “If I Can’t Love Her.” Unfortunately they kept the original cartoon’s pacing and that doesn’t leave a big space at the end of act one for a show-stopper.
I did like the additions, especially the ones that fill in plot holes, and I was very fond of Le Fou’s arc and redemption. I will probably like the movie more after watching it again with lowered expectations (and without missing part to take my five-year-old to the bathroom or calm her down when she got overexcited and started bouncing around the seats). But I don’t think I’ll ever prefer this to the musical, much less the cartoon. And that makes me sad.
Power Rangers, on the other hand, was much more than I expected. I thought it was going to be “gritty and dark” the way all reboots seem to be these days, and was prepared to take my daughter out if things got too bad. But it wasn’t dark, and it was surprisingly deft at characterization and inclusion. There was real conflict that grew out of the character’s personalities and problems. I missed several parts (again, thanks to the kids), and I actually find myself wanting to watch it again to see what I missed. Color me surprised!
Have you seen either movie yet? What did you think?