The Best Damn Beauty and the Beast Review Ever

From 2011 to 2018, I was an ardent fan of the website That Guy with the Glasses, and its later iteration, Channel Awesome. The purpose of the channel was to be a video hosting site that wasn’t YouTube (i. e. swarming with copyright censorship) and content creators could upload videos, typically reviewers of various forms of media. It’s through this site I came to find some of my favorite producers like…

-Lindsay Ellis, who began her career as the Nostalgia Chick, now has made several insightful video essays about Hollywood and film in general. Now, in addition, she narrates a PBS series titled “It’s Lit!”, reviewing the importance of great literature. (https://www.youtube.com/user/chezapoctube)

-Todd in the Shadows, who reviews pop music, with my favorite videos being his sub-series “One Hit Wonderland”, examining the phenomenon surrounding a band or singer’s career when they were known for only one song. (https://www.youtube.com/user/carlos10009)

-Phelous reviews knockoffs, like low-budget animated fairy tales and bootleg toys. (https://www.youtube.com/user/pherlous)

-“Renegade Cut” by Leon Thomas goes over various popular movies and dissects the religious, political, and philosophical aspects. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9infsKo33_2LUoiqXGgQWg)

-Lewis Lovhaug, AKA Linkara’s show is called “Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn”. He reviews mostly comic books. (https://www.youtube.com/user/reuisu)

-ERod, AKA the Blockbuster Buster reviews bad blockbuster movies and destroys them by with fictional weapons, particularly his power-amplified hammer, Lucille. (https://www.youtube.com/user/ERod2010)

-Paw reviewed music, and had a sub-series called “Music Movies” where he would go over each song in a musical and rank two of them as the best and worst.

There’s plenty more that are worth mentioning, but talking about Channel Awesome comes with A LOT of baggage that is seriously depressing and not really relevant to this article. There’s a great documentary by Cinematic Venom you can watch here to get the full story, but even that is 80 minutes long.

But the reason I bring it up is because in 2013, when I was in the early days of doing the YouTube podcast What’s the Attraction? with my best friend SurferClock, we found an episode of “Shameful Sequels” starring producer MikeJ called Theme Park 3D Films. MikeJ had a guest star on his show named Tony Goldmark, AKA Some Jerk with a Camera. Tony’s thing, it turned out, was that he reviewed theme park rides, particularly ones in Disneyland. Before long, I began watching partly because he was reviewing Disney theme parks, and partly because…well, he was both knowledgeable and very funny. Tony’s persona as Jerk is a loud, snarky, sometimes profane man-child who loves his childhood Disney a little bit too much, but the way in which he does it is incredibly funny.

Then I discovered another former Channel Awesome producer named Kyle Kallgren, formerly known as Oancitizen. In his series, “Brows Held High”, Kyle reviews arthouse, independent, foreign, and Shakespeare movies. He rarely discusses popular movies unless he has a real reason to dive deeper, but his observations are fascinating. Kyle’s character can come off a bit snobby and elitist, but he just wants to share culture with the masses that are used to Tony’s brand of comedy and maturity.

Now, you wouldn’t think these two have anything in common, but it turns out these guys are actually friends, And in 2014, and they did one epic three-part review together. Both men reviewed Beauty and the Beast…but they weren’t talking about the same movie.

In this episode of “Brows Held High”, Kyle reveals he is intending to review the 1946 French film La Belle et la Bête, directed by Jean Cocteau, and starring Jean Marais and Josette Day. Jerk, in his enthusiasm, magically whisks Kyle away to Disneyland Park, anticipating the hoity-toity art snob to review the 1991 animated Disney film. At first, Jerk is none too thrilled about the confusion, but he begrudgingly comes along. The miniseries is not a standard play-by-play as most online reviews are, but their focus is squarely on the Black-and-White movie, with Jerk popping in frequently to either snark on it or compare it to the Disney cartoon. Shenanigans, as they say, ensue.

The reason I love Ellis’, Thomas’, and Kallgren’s videos is because I love to learn. They use what they’ve learned to educate poor muddled masses like me about these movies. Not just the behind-the-scenes processes and interviews, but also the deeper aspects of the script, the visual language, the philosophy, and more. Kyle spends the videos talking about Marais’ dual role as the beast and Avenant, Belle’s arrogant human suitor, as well as Cocteau’s visual motifs, Cocteau’s relationship with the avant-garde, and how the Greek prophet Orpheus plays into Cocteau’s oeuvre.

And then there’s Jerk, who has little patience for Kyle’s pretentiousness. These two have such incredible chemistry that words fail me at how well they work off each other. Especially since, despite the videos’ focus on La Belle et la Bête, Jerk frequently refers to the Disney film and shares all sorts of facts and anecdotes. He’s not just there to snark…though he’s got that in spades…but also to educate. Just with far less snooty words.

Subtle as it may be, there is a narrative unwinding throughout the miniseries. Both are trying to open each others’ eyes to their preferred versions of the classic fairy tale. But once they finish the film, the third episode reaches a tense climax. They ask the question all critics loathe to ask: which version is, objectively, better than the other. As you might imagine, both are stubborn men with very different perspectives. And both are equally reluctant to back down. I’d get into more detail, but that would not just be spoilers, but a great disservice to any potential viewer out there. Especially since the denouement following said clash is brilliant.

But far and away the absolute best part of this review is the music. You like the soundtrack to the 1991 film written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman? You know all the words to “Be Our Guest”? Well, then I’ve got your number, mon ami. Because all six of the movie’s songs are parodied.

The opening song is called, simply, “Kyle”. As Kyle strolls through a con dreamily with an open book, his fellow critics scoff at his highbrow mentality. Many of the key moments are faithfully recreated with carefully crafted enthusiasm. One such scene is mirroring the busy town with the overlapping chatter in the “Belle”‘s bridge as Gaston tries to make his way through. Here, it’s Jerk trying to track down Kyle…amid a chaotic Nerf gun war. I love seeing Linkara, Todd in the Shadows, Diamanda Hagan, Phelous, Paw, Rap Critic, Obscurus Lupa, Bennett the Sage, and more former Channel Awesome producers getting in on the fun, which illustrates why so many of us fans thought the site was the zenith of passionate creator-driven careers. Who wouldn’t want in on this kind of thing?

Parodying “Gaston” is “Cocteau”. Kyle, dismayed that Cocteau’s name is lost to history due to the uneducated masses’ preference for a cartoon, unleashes praise upon the artist. Jerk, in contrast, keeps interjecting, griping about Cocteau’s self-importance and doesn’t get the appeal.

When Jerk thinks he has found out why Kyle likes La Belle et la Bête so much, he does his parody of “Be Our Guest” with “Cause it’s French”. The song is a what’s what of nods to French culture, mostly the stereotypical aspects. Regardless, the snark game here is on point and biting, with Kyle begging Jerk to just open his mind a little.

“Logic of a Dream” is the men hitting peak frustration. Jerk’s head is spinning with confusion, and Kyle begs him to relax and stop overthinking the “fuzzy dream logic” and “think like a child”.

My absolute favorite is “Kill the Mouse”, a parody of “The Mob Song”. I love Disney, but they aren’t perfect. They’ve done some questionable things over the years, and as much of an apologist I am, they have done things that anger me. This song is absolute catharsis in those days when I feel the company is short-changing its most devoted fans just to make more money. I dare not ruin any of the great lyrics, but let’s just say the best one is the one featuring the phrase “hashtag Disneyside”.

Lastly, there’s “Disney and Cocteau”. Ven, Kyle’s line producer, concludes her arc in wanting to sing, and finally gets her shot. Her song is essentially a comprehensive look back at the various adaptations of Beauty and the Beast. Ven’s vocals are very pleasant, but I’d be lying if I said I listened to this song the most.

And you know what? Tony sells these songs! Seriously! Click this link right here to head over to Bandcamp and download the songs! Please! The lyrics are so well done and Kyle and Tony are not bad singers!

Tony and Kyle are excellent producers and among the best examples out there why the craft of making internet videos is such a beloved skill. I understand the pointlessness of reviewing a review, but these guys deserve to have their work noticed and appreciated by more people. Especially since they’ve continued to work together since. The following year, during Summer of Shakespeare, Kyle compared The Lion King to Henry the VIII and Hamlet, with Tony making a cameo appearance, begging to make that video another massive crossover musical. When Tony did a review of the live action 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast in his series “One Movie Later”, he live-streamed Kyle and his girlfriend so they could co-review it. And when Tony made another epic three-part video review, one on the cringeworthy train wreck known as Escape from Tomorrow, Kyle was there as a running gag to provide potential insight on what director Randy Moore set out to achieve. But even the guy who sat through A Midsummer Night’s Cream, Trash Humpers, The Idiots, and Vase de Noces can’t make sense of Moore’s moronic mess. That’s pretty bad.

I highly, highly recommend anyone with even a vague interest in film watch this. And when you have time, watch Tony and Kyle’s other videos, too. If you find Kyle’s perspective a tad too elitist or obscure, watch these ones on…

Spider-man

Superman

The Avengers

The Lion King

Hamlet done in Klingon

Or if you prefer Tony’s shtick, But want a little more insight, my top picks for his videos are

Escape from Tomorrow review

Opening Day of Disneyland broadcast (W/Charlie Callahan and David Ganssle)

The Haunted Mansion (2003) review (w/Count Jackula and the Horror Guru)

30 Years of Epcot

ABC goes to Disney World! (When all those nineties sitcoms went to Walt Disney World)

We Wants the Redhead! (The controversy surrounding Pirates of the Caribbean’s Redhead removal)

But when push comes to shove, the best thing you can do for any one of these content creators is subscribe to their YouTube channels and contribute to their Patreon page. These guys have made reviewing media and recording themselves doing so and putting it on the internet a career. Monetizing their videos on YouTube is tricky enough with copyright laws being as fickle as they are, so by donating to them, you can directly help them fund their careers and subsequently, keep us entertained. I posted Patreon links for the other reviewers, and here are the ones for Tony and Kyle.

I grew up watching documentaries and behind-the-scenes bonus features where they were hosted by a wizened, austere elites in three-piece suits or kids whose scripts scream “a 45-year-old white guy wrote this and thinks he is still ‘with it’ with the cool kids, yo!” (Cough cough Moviesurfers….) But in this day and age, millennials are taking their passions into their own hands and using their combined powers of youthful zeal and experienced intellect to create videos they are passionate about. After watching some of these guys, just try going back to watch Jason Alexander hosting a documentary on The Hunchback of Notre Dame and try not to cringe. It just won’t be the same. A Disnerd and an intellectual combining forces to create a truly deep and funny review about two adaptations of the greatest tale as old as time…how does that not inspire?

Now, let’s see, am I missing anything? I mean, I’ve posted so many links I think…oh yeah! How about a link to the videos themselves?!

Author: TAP-G

Writer, former podcaster, entertainment enthusiast. Movies and media have the power to shape our world and vice versa. Let’s take a deeper look at them.

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