Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast

 

Movie Review - Beauty and the BeastWithout any doubt, the 1991 animated Beauty & The Beast is considered among the best of the Disney Princess movies, or any of the the Disney films. It’s from the period known as The Disney Renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid, and ran through most of the 90s. (I think it concluded with The Princess & The Frog.) This was an era that brought a faded Disney empire back into the hearts of people who love stories of adventure, and of Princesses.

Four of the best Princesses came from this creative Disney restart: Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and Nala (she may be ‘only’ a lion but as mate of the King, she’s royalty). In several RunPee Polls over the years, Belle’s always got the top spot as everyone’s favorite Princess.

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So I want to give this beloved film an A+, but I just can’t, and that’s why I’ve been dragging my heels to write this review. I finally just decided to give my thoughts and say Beauty & The Beast misses that “plus” by a hair…and it’s not the hair of Belle or The Beast that brought it down.

What’s great in Beauty & The Beast:

Belle is a great role model — she loves books and adventure stories, and isn’t afraid to try to protect the ones she loves. She’s spirited and speaks her mind intelligently.

Belle’s also very nice to the furniture, which is a big deal if you know this classic tale.  😉

The Beast has a meaningful transformation that takes a good slow time to develop (the seasons change over the course of the film). He’s delightfully grumpy for quite a while, and his path to compassion feels largely earned. The two will probably make a good couple, and the message of “seeing beyond surface appearances” is profound enough.

What drags Belle’s movie down:

No, my main beef with Beauty & The Beast lies with Gaston. (Also, with the wolf scene, but I’ll get to that later.) Gaston is simply a bore. And not in the love-to-hate way. His character sucks life from the screen. Gaston’s little sidekick is intensely annoying (again, not in the good way). All the villagers seem like the world’s stupidest morons — from the first song Belle, through to the end with The Mob Song. I don’t understand how this village can possibly even function, given their apparent level of credulity and ignorance.

At least in The Lion King (who has a great main villain), the hyenas — also depicted as intellectually challenged — are amusing in their henchmen evilness. They also don’t just blindly follow whoever talked the loudest.

Anyway, all the scenes at the castle are simply gold, and if the movie focused more on the title characters and said furniture, we’d have a perfect film. Cogsworth and Lumiere aren’t quite Pumba and Timon, but come close. And that doggy footstool deserves a special mention: what a delightful idea!

There’s enough story to be told in the main narrative without manufacturing the Gaston side plot.

To be fair, I know they were trying to show that the “good looking” guy was a big jerk, while the scary, hairy Beast has a heart of gold, but the movie spent too much time with Gaston, his motley crew, and the idiots with the pitchforks. Either spend less time away from the castle, or make the other parts better. Too much creative time is squandered.

What about the wolves?

I did say I was going to mention the wolf scene. For one thing, it makes a great Peetime, since no one is seeing Beauty & The Beast for the action. But I also don’t understand Disney’s problem with wolves. Wolves don’t attack people. They especially don’t attack people riding giant Belgian Draft Horses like Philippe. I happen to like wolves and support their reintroduction to the wild, and was vastly disappointed with Disney maintaining their ‘wolves are evil’ stance in the 2017 live action Beauty & The Beast.

You know who gangs up on people like that in real life? Other people. They could have made the remake with a band of outlaws and moved away from the whole wolf thing… This is a personal peeve, and I won’t take marks from the film for it, but I do think it’s worth mentioning.

The animated classic, overall:

Had Beauty & The Beast been solid throughout, with an interesting villain and henchmen, it would be an easy A+ film. The Little Mermaid and The Lion King handle this effortlessly. The castle scenes are so fun and compelling, though, that I’ll say Beauty is probably the third best pre-Pixar Disney Princess movie, coming in with a high A score.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: The Disney classic is being re released to theaters on Friday. It was hard to make Peetimes, since I assume people want to see the songs in this 1991 classic, and there are a lot of them. I also didn’t want to have you miss the romantic parts. I chose 2 Peetimes during the silly villager songs, and one during an action scene, leaving you free to enjoy the best parts of the film.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Beauty and the Beast. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (G) N/A
Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy

Movie Review – Beauty and The Beast (live action version)

Movie Review – The Little Mermaid

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Rewatch Review – Disney’s Animated Aladdin (1992) – A Classic Film with Deeply Modern Flaws

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