Beauty And The Beast (1991)

"Very Good"

Beauty And The Beast (1991) Review


Often considered the best animated film ever -- and the only one to ever be nominated for Best Picture -- on a return viewing ten years later, Beauty and the Beast doesn't seem to be quite the masterpiece we once thought.

Though it's still good, pop this Special Edition DVD into your player and you're instantly greeted with a crash of noise. Beauty lets you know right from the start that it is not a subtle film, full of bluster and fire and singing and talking everything. (And everything talking at the top of its lungs.)

Dig through the cacophany, though, and you will indeed find one of the better animated experiences of the pre-Pixar era. The story is of course straight from the classics. Mean monster living in big castle apprehends young lass, and she will love him! Of course, he's under a spell and if he finds true love before his 21st birthday, he'll reveal his true self -- a prince -- and the couple will live happily ever after. But what woman will fall in love with a monster like The Beast?

For a typically Disney "modern woman," our Belle is awfully provincial, willingly accepting a life as the Beast's semi-slave (which of course gives her the chance to love him) while an animatronic candle and coatrack clean him up so he can properly woo her. The movie's presumed high point comes during a semi-computer-animated dance in a large ballroom while Angela Lansbury croons the title song (which actually won an Oscar). Ah, the suckers we were back in 1991.

It's writ large and supremely cartoony, but at least Belle recognizes the impossibility of the menagerie of singing, animatronic furniture and cutlery (most Disney heroines see nothing wrong with a song-and-dance flounder), but she goes along in good spirits. And it's that sense of fun in Beauty that makes it worthwhile, even today. There are even moments of greatness in the film -- notably the finale, in which the Beast and Belle's evil other suitor do battle on the castle's rooftop. And when Angela Lansbury isn't singing, the songs aren't too shabby, either.

If you find yourself wanting ever more Beauty and the Beast, nothing more than the new two-disc DVD set will do. Featuring an extended cut of the film, you get one extra song and a bit more narrative. There's also a bazillion extras, including the "work in progress" version shown to audiences at the 1991 New York Film Festival, a commentary track, tons of kids' games, and the usual behind-the-scenes goodies. A nice collection of stuff and a must-have for Disney freaks.

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Cake and candle?



Facts and Figures

Box Office Worldwide: $377.4M

Budget: $25M

Production compaines: Walt Disney Feature Animation, Walt Disney Pictures, Silver Screen Partners IV

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Producer:

Starring: Paige O'Hara as Belle (voice), as Beast (voice), as Gaston (voice), as Lumiere (voice), as Cogsworth / Narrator (voice), as Mrs. Potts (voice), as Chip (voice), as Maurice (voice), as Lefou (voice), as Philippe (voice), as Wardrobe (voice), as Babette (voice), Brian Cummings as Stove (voice), Alvin Epstein as Bookseller (voice), as Monsieur D'Arque (voice)

Also starring: ,

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