Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The stupid Beauty and the Beast and the paper-tree Cinderella

One time I was on a date, telling this guy about my favorite restaurant. He listened with a smile, and then said, "Are you sure the food is that good, or do you love it just because it's nostalgic?"

The thought had never occurred to me, and I was actually a little offended that he would suggest such a thing. But, he had a point. Part of the charm of the place is the memories and the photo wallpaper that includes several of my relatives.

But while I'm still convinced that the best Mexican food in the world is served at La Casita in Springville, Utah (one of the biggest disappointments of my adult life was discovering that not all Mexican food is that delicious), I can acknowledge several things that continue to be the best thing in the world only because of the love I had for them in my childhood. 

Two movies in particular. My family affectionately calls them "the stupid Beauty and the Beast" and "the paper-tree Cinderella." 

Since every fairy tale retelling is unique, allow me to give a brief synopsis of each.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1965)

Cindrella lives in a cottage far, far away with her stepmother who never looks at people when she talks and her two 40-year-old stepsisters. They live in a cruel land; the men are forced to wear tights and the women must wear cones on their heads when they go out. The prince, the son of the King and Queen of Hearts, has just gotten home from slaying dragons and saving princesses, but has not yet managed to fall in love. So the king announces a ball, and all twenty of the lovely maidens in the land show up. All sound is sucked out of the ballroom when Cinderella arrives, and you know the prince is falling more and more in love because his smile gets so big it's in danger of breaking his head. But Cinderella must leave at midnight, and they are tragically separated. But, don't despair; they can still sing duets telepathically. Alas, that isn't enough for the prince—especially since his parents keep trying to join in—and he sets out to find the girl whose name he never bothered to learn. Cinderella's stepsisters are the last to be tortured via forced glass-slipper-trying-on, and just as the prince is about to leave, Cinderella's fairy godmother reminds her the prince is always dying of thirst. So she gives him some cool water from the well, he sees his princess through the dirty cheeks and Halloween-colored wardrobe, and they live happily ever after.

Beauty and the Beast (1987)

Beauty lives with her father and four helpless siblings who are in their thirties. Disaster strikes, and they have to leave their mansion and move into a cute little cottage and do chores. It's the end of the world. UNTIL . . . The father's clerk announces that one of their lost ships has been found. The father is delighted, and plans to leave at once to go claim his ship. Everyone but Beauty demands their father to bring home gifts, but Beauty simply asks for a rose. The ship has been sold to someone else by the time the father arrives after "two weeks' journey later," and then the father somehow ends up in a creepy castle in the middle of a desert. The castle is full of fog and causes him to sing conversations with himself. But he has a grand old time, and he sets off the next morning to go home to his children—but not before cutting a rose from a garden. Suddenly, a beast with an upset stomach runs down 17 flights of spiral staircases and confronts him, a little dizzy. In payment for the rose he stole, the father must come back in two days and offer up either himself or one of his daughters for life. Beauty, feeling guilty about her silly request, volunteers to go, and her father, seeking the Father of the Year Award, tells her he'll accompany her on the journey. Beauty has a lovely time at the castle, dancing with statues, talking to pictures, and gazing sternly at the metal owl in the library. And every night, the beast asks her to marry him, and she answers daintily, "No, Beast." Meanwhile, every night in her dreams, she meets a prince that looks exactly like Beast and he is always sad because he failed his acting class. Eventually, Beauty asks if she can go home to visit her family, but her visit isn't all she thought it would be because they've all learned how to dress and feed themselves in her absence. So she goes back to the beast because he's the only one that needs her, and POOF. He explodes into fireworks, Dream Prince appears, and they live happily ever after after the most awkward kiss ever.

Sorry, I guess those weren't very brief. If you only knew how many gems I left out . . .

Ahem. Back to my point. Over the years, my eyes have been opened to the atrocious acting and terrible sets. But as I'm cringing at performances the actors are probably too ashamed to put on their résumés (especially since most of them are actually quite good in other movies), I'm also remembering dancing in the driveway under the stars singing "A Lovely Night," imagining myself in Cinderella's fur-trimmed dress while I sing "10 Minutes Ago" with a handsome prince, and dreaming of living in a magic castle with a dream prince. I notice the cone-shaped trees and off-key singing, but I'm too busy reveling in the return of childhood innocence to really be bothered by them. 

So every few years, I pull out one of these movies, ready to grin stupidly for 90 minutes and come up with more clever ways to mock them with my sisters. They're terrible movies by any set of standards, but I love them so.


  1. Amen!!!! Your synopsises (is that a word?) captures the brilliant stupidity of the movies perfectly. It makes me want to watch Beauty and the Beast again. Hee hee!

  2. What fond memories. I love those excruciatingly stupid movies as well. ☺️