If your conscience dictates you to skip out on Beauty and the Beast, well . . . there’s not much else to choose from.
Beauty and the Beast
Never before in my memory has a Disney film conjured up so much controversy among Christians. This is thanks to director Bill Condon, who spoke in an interview of the film having an “exclusively gay moment,” although he later went back on his original words. The character in question, LeFou, is not “openly” gay in the film, but there is subtext that strongly suggests it, including LeFou giving Gaston a shoulder rub and dancing in one scene between members of the same sex. This will likely go over the heads of younger children, while older children and teens will know pretty clearly what the implication is.
All of that said, I think it’s a shame that we have to make this discussion so much about that element, while the underlying core of the film expresses such a positive worldview. The message of the Beauty and the Beast story is, in fact, quite Christian – that true love is love someone while they are unlovable. Certainly the elements of homosexuality are things to consider very carefully before exposing your children to them. I certainly recommend caution. But I also think that this film is communicating a love that is desperately needed in our current self-absorbed culture.
Beauty and the Beast is rated PG for some action violence, peril, and frightening images.
The Belko Experiment
From director James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) comes a dark horror/thriller about an office that gets locked down by a computer voice, which tells the employees to kill each other, or else more people on the outside will die. What follows is a bloodfest, but one that is interested in a central question to the human condition: at the end of the day, are people only out for themselves?
Films like this, while often couched in gory violence, can bring up very salient questions to theology. Questions like are humans truly good, if not why not, and is there any hope for them to become good? Where it starts to get dicey is when those themes go from acknowledgement of mankind’s depravity to embracing a radical utilitarian ethic, without offering any hope out of what essentially becomes dressed up nihilism. It’s not clear from the trailer whether it will go down that road or not. It could certainly be worth engaging with on that front, but only after wading through a knee-deep river of violence and gore.
The Belko Experiment is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language including sexual references, and some drug use.
Song to Song
From the eccentric Terrence Malick comes Song to Song, a film about celebrity stardom, sex, and all of the drama that happens in between. While Malick does have a reputation for being a visionary director (although his films are also infamous for being esoteric, bordering nonsensical), there’s nothing that looks new in this film. Particularly with the heavier sexual content in this R-rated film, there’s nothing to really grab our interest or suggest a true thematic depth. Despite an array of acting talent that includes Ryan Gosling, Mara Rooney, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman, I’m going to recommend a pass on this one.
Song to Song is rated R for some sexuality, nudity, and drug use.
Conclusion: Despite its content considerations, Beauty and the Beast seems like a pretty clear best option to me. Rarely to Christians see films that so clearly endorse their vision of love, and it gives us an opportunity to start conversations about why God’s love is so significant, that we love Him because He first loved us.