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Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast

  • Nov 4, 2009
Pros: Animation, music, characters, and of course, the story!

Cons: None!  (ok, so I don't like that new stuff they added)

The Bottom Line: Need a good Disney movie? Hard do better than Beauty and the Beast.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

I ought to be writing about something else, like the books I just finished or the new movies I saw.  Instead I'm writing about a movie I've seen dozens of times, still own on VHS, and have playing right behind me this very moment at 1:30 a.m.  What can I say?  I've been gorging on leftover Halloween candy and I'm kind of a geek and a huge sucker for fantasy.


I can't believe this came out in 1991.  I was 7.  Boy does that seem weird.  Anyhow, this is Disney's take on the old tale of Beauty and the Beast, and what a lovely job they did on the story.  In fact, I've not heard anyone ever talking about how they disliked it.  The basic premise of the story is simple:

A prince has been turned into an ugly beast to represent his inner ugliness.  If he can't learn to love and have someone love him in return by his 21st birthday, he'll be doomed to remain a beast forever.  The beautiful Belle is his last chance, but can she really love such a beast?

Pretty much every girl watching the movie loved the Beast.  In fact, the funniest part is that most of us loved the prince more as a Beast than as his human self.  Haaa.  In terms of which Disney princess a girl might be, some of us fall into Belle's world.  I'm definitely Belle, in more ways than one.  Haaa.

But it's movies like this that showcase why Disney was, in a word, awesome.  Their storytelling skills coupled with the lovely animation just made the perfect mix.  In my opinion, that's where Disney went wrong - their stories started to get crappy and thus they thought 3D animation would save them.  It didn't.  And if you haven't yet heard, they're bringing back the original animation with The Princess and the Frog this December.  Joy.

Ok, enough pimping original Disney animation.  This movie is great.  Simple as that.  The voice actors do a wonderful job, and all the songs are fun and peppy and perfect for kids.  The Beast might startle a few children because he's pretty animal-like, what with his roaring and anger management issues and raised hackles (I love that detail though).  But they'll tough it out.  Kids are tougher these days anyway it seems.  There are plenty of funny parts to, with the egotistical antagonist Gaston acting like a buffoon and his sidekick Lefou being even goofier.

And just about everyone will love the castle inhabitants (Lumiere was always a particular favorite of people, him and his making out with French maids - dusters), all typically inanimate objects brought to life through the same curse that made the prince the Beast.  The rule-following clock Cogsworth always seems to be losing his gears; the teapot Mrs. Potts is the calm, collected voice of reason; and even the barking footstool is giggle-worthy.  Poor thing used to be a little dog.

Ah the days when Disney wasn't afraid of a little violence (yes, the Beast actually bleeds at one point during a battle), even death, and well, was just cooler.  Maybe they'll bring that back.  My only qualm is the new scenes they stuck into the movie.  Seeing as how the movie is locked in the "Disney vault," I'm not sure if you can buy an original copy without the added stuff.  It's really just one (unnecessary) song and a tiny bit between Belle and the Beast in which she starts to teach him how to read.  I found this ridiculous because he's a prince and he's almost 21 - he's going to know how to read.  He just looks like a beast.  He's not ignorant.

But whatever.  It's still a good movie that the whole family will love, and there's a good chance that youngsters will love it long after they've grown up.


This review is Lean-N-Mean and a part of the Second Annual All Things Disney Write-Off!  Join in!


Viewing Format: VHS

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Nicole ()
Ranked #109
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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The film that officially signaled Disney's animation renaissance (followingThe Little Mermaid) and the only animated feature to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination,Beauty and the Beastremains the yardstick by which all other animated films should be measured. It relates the story of Belle, a bookworm with a dotty inventor for a father; when he inadvertently offends the Beast (a prince whose heart is too hard to love anyone besides himself), Belle boldly takes her father's place, imprisoned in the Beast's gloomy mansion. Naturally, Belle teaches the Beast to love. What makes this such a dazzler, besides the amazingly accomplished animation and the winning coterie of supporting characters (the Beast's mansion is overrun by quipping, dancing household items) is the array of beautiful and hilarious songs by composer Alan Menken and the late, lamented lyricist Howard Ashman. (The title song won the 1991 Best Song Oscar, and Menken's score scored a trophy as well.) The downright funniest song is "Gaston," a lout's paean to himself (including the immortal line, "I use antlers in all of my de-co-ra-ting"). "Be Our Guest" is transformed into an inspired Busby Berkeley homage. Since Ashman's passing, animated musicals haven't quite reached the same exhilarating level of wit, sophistication, and pure joy.--David Kronke --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Director: Gary Trousdale
Genre: Animation
Release Date: November 22, 1991
MPAA Rating: G
DVD Release Date: October 8, 2002
Runtime: 84 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
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