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Beauty and the Beast (1991)

April 27, 2010

9/10 Rude Hosts

Only gets better with age.

Beauty and the Beast is about a teenage prince with a mean chip on his shoulder who acts like a jerk to a sorceress in disguise and gets transformed into Sasquatch as a result. Then one day an aging inventor gets lost in the woods and winds up on Big Foot’s doorstep, so the inventor’s daughter rolls on up to the castle and agrees to be the angry yeti’s prisoner in exchange for her father’s freedom. Then they start spending more time together, the peculiar girl starts to see the prince as more than just a glorified werewolf, and so begins their race against time to fall in love before the sorceress’ spell solidifies over Fido, Sr. and his wait staff for the rest of their days as France’s most musically inclined collection of inanimate objects.

For a while there, this is one of those movies I never thought I’d see again on my own free will without having kids of my own to watch it with. See, as little Aiden grew up he decided to write this movie off as “childish” and “girly”, completely suppressing the memories of hours spent sitting too close to the TV wearing through his VHS copy of Beauty and the Beast. Such are the tragic side effects of puberty.

So sad…

Fast-forward to Aiden at 23, he goes with his good buddy Fred to see a documentary called Waking Sleeping Beauty and those childhood memories start to climb back to the surface. Fast-forward a week later, Aiden borrows his four-year-old nephew’s copy of the movie without asking, watches it from start to finish and curses puberty from a mountaintop as the end credits roll.

It is a rare and amazing treat to be able to entirely forget about how great something is and then re-discover it years down the line, only to realize that it’s so much better than you ever remember it being. Seeing this movie again at an age when I could fully appreciate it for all its strengths and slowly start to remember the lyrics to all the wonderful songs I thought I forgot was a nostalgic experience the likes of which hardly ever occur. But even if you’ve never seen this movie before or know it by heart, Beauty and the Beast is simply amazing.

And the music really is out of sight. Everyone loves “Be Our Guest” for good reason, but I could not believe how much that song had me howling with laughter while I was tapping my foot in unison, and the same goes for the even funnier song about Belle’s persistent manly-man suitor, Gaston. When it’s trying to be funny, the lyrics are an absolute riot, and when it’s trying to be beautiful, it’s exactly that. Just great music all around that will inevitably get stuck in your head for a long time after, and that’s a good thing.

The characters are all fantastic, too. Belle and the Beast are obviously the emotional weight of the movie and their story sucks you right in, but the side characters kinda steal the show. Jerry Orbach is great as Lumiere, Angela Lansbury is great as Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth is great, Chip was always my favorite as a kid and Gaston is such a great stereotype/villain. Yup, they’re all great, not a weak character to be found and that’s not an easy thing to pull off, animated or otherwise.

It’s also nice to take a trip back to the good old days when folks were actually drawing movies instead of teaming up with HAL 9000 to do the trick. Not to bash CG or anything, but there’s something to be said for the way you can really see the heart of the animators come through in the final product when it’s done the old fashioned way. Nearly twenty years later and it still looks fantastic; can’t even imagine the kind of carpal tunnel those guys must have gotten.

The only complaint I have is that I wish it were longer. I feel like Belle and the Beast go from catty to thick as thieves a little too quickly, but my good buddy Fred thinks I’m crazy in this regard and he may very well be right. Nevertheless, I still wish it were longer and that’s actually more of a testament to how much I liked it more than anything else.

So kick your preconceived notions in the head and see this movie. Beauty and the Beast is one of those things that will draw you in, make you fall in love with it and have you running the emotional gamut no matter how old, young, macho or feminine you may be. I’m getting strangely emotional just writing this review, but it really is special and it’s no wonder that this is one of the few that put Disney back on the map.

Oh, and this is my 300th review! WHO LET THE DOGS OUT!

22 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2010 12:24 am

    Great romantic film and one of the first movie I can distinctly remember seeing as a kid.
    And congrats on the milestone!

  2. April 27, 2010 1:30 am

    Agree with every point you presented. Nothing like these 90s Disney movies … my favorite still has to be “The Lion King.” Mainly just because of the number “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King.”

    • April 27, 2010 9:20 am

      Been meaning to re-watch that one, too. That’s the last Disney movie I vividly remember seeing in theaters and liking. Never really grown out of that one either. And it had an awesome Sega Genesis game.

  3. April 27, 2010 6:59 am

    Haven’t seen this recently but hearing you, and that it was nominated for Best Picture back in the day, makes me want to steal it from my nephew too. Congrats on the 300th review man! Keep it up!

  4. Fred permalink
    April 27, 2010 7:01 am

    Actually, the VHS was borrowed from my 4-year-old nephew- we watched it with your 7-year-old brother. Come on, JJ deserves some props for providing the film (even if we didn’t ask!)

    Love this, so happy you gave it a 9 🙂

  5. April 27, 2010 8:40 am

    “France’s most musically inclined collection of inanimate objects.” <–fantastic.

    Gaston reminds me of Snyder, the bad guy from 3 Ninjas. They're both among the most memorable villains of early 90s children's movies. It's the ponytails.

    • April 27, 2010 8:46 am

      hahaha. now I really need to re-watch 3 ninjas. God, taking me back to third grade here.

  6. Moose permalink
    April 27, 2010 8:56 am

    You should have saved the movie 300 for this post, but congrats on the accomplishment.

    And I couldn’t agree with you more, as much as the Pixar and Dreamworks movie have been stellar, I certainly miss the “magic” of the old time Disney cartoons. But maybe it’s about how old we were when we saw them, and kids now will think the same for the CGI films when they grow up. My favorite was Aladdin. (Definitely should be your next poll-favorite Disney cartoon)

    • April 27, 2010 9:00 am

      Hahaha, I thought the same thing about 300. Gotta find some movie with “400” in it for the next time around. And that Disney poll is definitely going down next week. Well played, good sir.

  7. April 27, 2010 9:07 am

    My favorite animated film ever. And unlike you, I loved it as a teen. It was one of the few Disney films that I never grew to dislike or ignore in my teenager years.

    I just watched this last summer again and found it just as enjoyable as ever. I can’t wait for the bluray that is coming out later this year. It will definitely be a day one purchase for me.

  8. April 27, 2010 12:36 pm

    300 reviews..
    3,455,792 uses of the word ‘shit’
    lost count of ‘frickin’ usage…
    you know what, ive never seen Beauty and the Beast. yes, i will go to bed without any supper
    any film with Angela Lansbury must be class, though

    • April 27, 2010 12:41 pm

      hahaha, there must be a way to tally that.

      Beauty and the Beast is a class act all the way, I hope we can agree upon this in time.

  9. April 27, 2010 1:45 pm

    i just typed ‘shit’ into your search bar – quite a few posts come up..
    none for ‘frickin’ though, strangely. must be spelling it wrong

  10. April 27, 2010 5:36 pm

    I can’t wait until the 3D re-release. This film hasn’t aged badly at all.

    • April 27, 2010 5:43 pm

      Geez, they’re making it 3D? I don’t know about that noise. Blu-Ray sounds great though.

  11. April 28, 2010 5:27 pm

    Excellent review for a fabulous movie, but first let me congratulate you on your milestone. I haven’t seen this in a while but I remember the dancing scene was breathtakingly beautiful, especially the chandelier shot from above, it is amazing how everything was still hand-drawn. Your review makes me want to go see this one again, so thanks!

  12. Sarah permalink
    April 29, 2010 4:42 pm

    You say you wanted it to be longer. I don’t think that would be a good idea. It would get too complex for kids to understand. And they’d probably start to get really fidgety it the theatre b/c all the detail is over their heads. When I saw how to train your dragon, the kids in front of me really started getting restless about 10 minutes from the end. There’s a reason why Disney’s kids movies are around 86 minutes.

    • April 29, 2010 4:48 pm

      Understandable, but I stand by my statement. I want more B&B, those kids don’t know what they’re missing.


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