Ah yes, it’s the film in which Disney fans are seemingly overwhelmed with the need to either sing the title or at least follow it up by humming the same five note melody (for the musicians: G, G#, F, G, D#). I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually heard the phrase “Beauty and the Beast” spoken in monotone before. What I am sure of though, is that this film is supposed to be rather good. Some say it’s the best in the whole Disney library. As I’m only now sitting down to watch it for the first time, I’m not yet in a position to offer an opinion if it’s the best or not, but I can say with absolute certainty, even without seeing it, that it’s a lot better than the last film, ‘The Rescuers Down Under’.
The film begins in France and we learn that, once upon a time, there was a Prince who was massive prick. An enchantress decided to turn herself into an old beggar woman and offer him a gift of a rose in exchange for a night’s shelter from the cold, in order to see just how high he ranked on the douchebag scale. I’m not sure why the enchantress decided to do this, but one assumes that she either was an employee in the French Governments department for the regulation and re-education of complete bell-ends, or if the bell-end re-education sector had been privatised, she no doubt worked for a multinational corporation that specialises in door-to-door dickhead training. Fortunately, it appears that she can report back to the bosses at Nevertwat inc. headquarters, with news of a successful night’s work. The prince turns the hag away for being a bit of a minger. As a result, he earns himself the fixed penalty for such douchery, which is being turned into a giant ugly bear-cum-buffalo, which will be a life sentence unless he can love, and be loved, before his 21st birthday. In a random and completely unnecessary additional punishment, all of his servants are also turned into various household items. That seems rather unfair to me. If the penalty for having a wanker for a boss, is being turned into a teapot, then crockery should now outnumber humans 50 to 1. Anyway, I’m now going to make a prediction: The beast will find love. I’m confident of this because the film’s called ‘Beauty and the Beast’. They’ve sort of given the game away there. It’s like calling Cinderella “Cinderella and the Dull Prince She Ends Up Marrying”. Or Bambi “Bambi and his Soon-To-Be Dead Mom.”
This is one of those reviews where I don’t feel a need to go through the film chronologically. Usually I change it up when a film is so dull, I can’t bear to talk about it or because a film is so good, it’s hard to take the piss out of it. Happily, this falls into the latter category. It also allows me time to discuss the big question: What does a teapot have to have sexy time with, to end up with a litter of teacups? But before I go down that rabbit hole, I have to touch upon another issue that is apparently much discussed among Disney fans, which is how time passes (or doesn’t) for the Prince and his servants who are under the spell. Does time freeze so that the servants are the same age when they are turned into candles, etc… and that the children teacups were already existing when the spell was cast? But then if that were the case, how does the Prince age up to 21? Ultimately, it fried my mind trying to understand the complexities and logic of it whilst the story unfolded (until I concluded it was just plain inconsistent), so I’m going to ignore the explanation the remake apparently included and use the fact that some form of aging must occur in order for the Prince to reach his 21st birthday whilst under the spell, in order to justify the exploration of the curious world of crockery-fucking…. So, is it when two teapots love each very much, the male teapot tips his magic man-tea into the lady teapot? And then a few weeks / months later does the teapot squeeze the teacups out of her spout? And what does that make teabags? Rudimentary placentas? And how cute would the tiny new-born teacups be?! Completely useless, but cute. Or is the father the kettle? Would that be cross-breeding? The mind boggles at the possibilities.
Another thing: Was there not a point where having imprisoned a barely adult girl because she traded herself for her father, who merely wanted shelter after becoming lost in a terrible storm, that the Beast thought “hmmm, just maybe this has got ever so slightly out of hand?!”. Or perhaps it may have crossed his mind “what the fuck am I actually trying to achieve here?!”.
The point is that, regardless of time inconsistencies, randy kitchen utensils and tenuously punished daughters, as I said before, this film is very good. In the previous few reviews, I’ve discussed how Disney occasionally decides that the antagonist can’t be merely a dickhead that you want to be on the receiving end of a rich slice of justice. They have to be cruel enough to mistreat animals and children to make sure the viewer is reminded of the most harrowing aspects of real life.
The added issue of this is that unless you’ve been rather unfortunate, you are unlikely to have met too many puppy-skinners in day-to-day life, and even if you have, you probably would rather not be reminded about it during ninety minutes of escapism. To that end, Gaston is breath of fresh air. He’s enough of a dick that it’s still satisfying to see him get his comeuppance (and a satisfying one it is too), but not so much so that he’s psychopathically cruel. Furthermore, as we’ve all encountered an arrogant, spoilt, musclebound, Alpha at some point in our lives, he’s more relatable than a witch or an octopus drag queen.
The thing that stands out most to me though, is the superb choreography during the musical numbers. There are so many different voices and the interplay between them, and the animation that accompanies them, is so clever. There’s a definite “wow” factor. Again, their style is not really my cup of tea, but they’re so well written, it’s hard not to enjoy them on at least some level. Actually, the quality of the musical numbers highlights how mediocre the musical side of Disney had become prior. Thinking about it, with a few exceptions (‘Bear Necessities’ springs to mind), there were barely any songs post-war that really impressed me, (at least until ‘The Little Mermaid’ came along) by the genius of their composition that Disney is often regarded for possessing.
The story is great, the conclusion is satisfying, and at no point did it feel like a chore to watch during its ninety-minute runtime. I can appreciate why it’s often at the top of Disney lists. Personally, I slightly preferred ‘The Little Mermaid’, but I would watch both again. And when you watch through Disney in chronological order, you fully appreciate that ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ sits between the two like the worlds most disappointing middle child. Next time out is ‘Aladdin’, so I’m cautiously optimistic that at least this time Disney won’t follow up with another ‘Rescuers Down Under’-style debacle.
It’s getting to the point where I’m finding that I have nothing else to add to Ben’s reviews. He’s not dissing my beloved Disney so much and actually enjoying some of my absolute favourite films of all time. However, at some point we’ll hit the films of the new millennium and he’ll probably change his tune again (although, I imagine, so will I).
Aladdin next! I wonder if he’ll change his opinion on ‘A Whole New World’ when he hears it in context to the rest of the film. Let’s hope so!
Kerry xxx 😁