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Beauty and the Beast


Emma Watson stars in a scene from the movie "Beauty and the Beast." 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. (CNS photo/Disney)

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NEW 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.

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