What is there to say about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast other than to talk about how good it is?
Featuring relatively unknown actors in the lead roles (at least, unknown to me; Paige O’Hara and Robby Benson), with Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers, and Jerry Orbach in delightful supporting roles, this film excels in humanizing its characters…even the ones who aren’t quite human anymore. We see the Beast’s change from a self-centered creature who wants nothing more than his human form back into a respectable man who loves this woman more than himself or his own wants. We also see Belle, an outcast in her village, fall in love with the Beast, an outcast in the strictest sense of the word – an unexpected match that shows that, deep down, they want the same thing: companionship and acceptance.
Richard White is a perfect blend of obnoxious and menace as the film’s villain, Gaston, a self-centered pig who aspires to do anything in his power to make Belle his wife…including arranging to have her father committed in an asylum to make her say “yes”. Songs like “Gaston” and “The Mob Song” define the character as arrogant, selfish, and violent, but, really, that’s what makes the character so much fun! He and his little friend Lefou bring lots of laughs to the screen (“Lefou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…”/”A dangerous pastime!”/”I know!”) while still allowing the audience to acknowledge that he is, indeed, the bad guy.
Flecked with colorful characters, brilliant artwork, and charming songs like “Be Our Guest” and “Something There”, as well as the ballad that manages to make me tear up every time I hear it, “Beauty and the Beast”, Beauty and the Beast, while not my personal favorite animated Disney movie, is still as magical now as it was when I first saw it on VHS in my living room as a child. Disney, the combined musical and lyrical genius of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, and the talented voice cast bring this story to life in a way that will be loved by viewers of all ages forever.
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
P.S. – Make sure to view the special edition of the film which includes the song “Human Again”!