Beauty and the Beast

Movie review by Common Sense Media, Common Sense Media
Beauty and the Beast Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 6+

Disney fave has great music, strong messages, some scares.

G 1991 90 minutes

Parents say

age 7+

Based on 70 reviews

Kids say

age 5+

Based on 105 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 2+
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1 person found this helpful.
age 9+

This movie is magical as a child, but becomes more problematic as you age (not for the reasons others are giving here, hear me out). G movie really should be PG.

I absolutely loved the music and feel of this movie growing up, it really was the gold standard for an animated fairy tale. But then I read the book and got older and wished there was a better version out there--maybe someday? Little background to explain where I'm coming from: The story was a combination of a very old fairy tale (the Lion's castle) and a real life event that took place with a man with a genetic issue who was captured in the Canary Islands and brought to France and worked his way up to being a favorite of the King. The author, a lady, used it to help betrothed brides become comfortable with their arranged marriages. In it the beast was perfect except in appearance and did not want to force the marriage even though their living together was part of a contract, it was Beauty who had to overcome her prejudices and insensitivity like the real life bethrothed woman had to with the real hairy man. OKAY NOW to explain how this relates to this version, I'll start with the message before I get to the innapropriate content. Instead you have a story more crafted for entertainment where the girl falls in love with a man who starts off very cruel and boorish, which is what she wanted to avoid in the first place. But at least she's not living a simple provincial life is the message--(living a grand life is considered optimal to humble living in the movie's message). So to woo her, he gives her a grand gift and changes his demeanor and words, but there's no way to know if that's permanent because he's an desparate orphan who is being coached by desperate servants, she is a means to his end--to break the spell. Some men are probably fine with the message because they can do whatever they want and the woman fixes their problems, but from a woman's perspective (I'm the wife of the user), it is lacking with very few benefits on the woman's part. In the book Beauty was led to unrealistic romantic ideas by her books and has to recognize that in order to see that everything she wants is in front of her, but in the movie her counterpart Belle is completely taken in by those ideas and never grows up, she just has to live with the anger hopelessly until it gets to be too much (thankfully she never falls in love/pities him during his angry stage--so it's not exactly the syndrome others mention, she only does it because she thinks he's changed, there's really no poor beast he must actually be good on the inside moment before that so I have no idea where that explanation comes from--if it's from the fact that she helps nurse his wounds because he's on the verge of death it's not really fair to expect her to ignore that and she doesn't blame herself or apologize for running away--I consider it a good character trait. Sorry to spoil the run away part but it's necessary for parents to explain the problems of running away. At this point she realizes that she has power over him otherwise she wouldn't have stood up to him when he started getting mean. It's not a realistic moment--you wouldn't really be able to do this well if you were kidnapped or in jail, but I guess it works for the movie. She thankfully only pities him at the very end of the movie). Some of the anger is very intense, but they try to make you feel that somehow it's okay because he saves her life and later gives her a big present and acts nice. He never feels the need to explain to her why the West Wing is forbidden, just intimidate her. There should have been a bigger and more dramatic change that lets you know he's NEVER going back because this is a red flag for potential marriage partners, or better, just stick to the book's beautiful unfolding. (And no the live action remake also on this site doesn't fix this in case I have made up your mind to just watch that instead, it might make Belle even more independent and tough--but there's still no way to be absolutely sure the Beast has repented of his ways. A seemingly stronger woman does not equal a grown-up well-adjusted repentant man.) Be aware that the castle characters swear in french (mon deiu and sacre bleu if you want to go translate them). Gaston is also supposed to represent what people today call toxic masculinity. Disney has long had an anti-hunting message and it's applied to Gaston. He's supposed to be the villian, sexist, selfish, he does what he wants, he's rude and spits, anti-education, he's manipulative, and he conspires with the mental institution to put Belle's father in a bad light. But they probably shouldn't have put characteristics that have nothing to do with being bad, like wanting a big family or getting good nutrition in there. On the other hand Belle eats very little, she is invited to comes to have a secret dinner from the servants (they act like good cops in a bad cop/good cop manipulation) because the beast is starving her to manipulate her (he's got a lot of Gaston's problems which is ironic) and she's satisfied after a finger is dipped in the dish. Even later she's not a great eater with just a tiny bowl and no variety--what kind of message are you sending Disney? Belle also tells her father that Gaston is handsome and other girls practically faint over him. Although it is meant to be a lesson in looks aren't everything, your child might not get it. But he's ridiculously mishappen, so it's not a realistic drawing of what women think handsome is. As a little girl this caused me to wonder if that's what I'm supposed to be looking for in a man's appearance. There's also this bothersome scene where the servants are talking to each other behind a curtain, "Oh no" says the female servant, "Oh yes" says the male servant--over and over again back and forth in a seductive way. And it's not the only time she's abused, later a person rips out peices of her skirt causing short panting screams when she's upside-down (thankfully she's just a feather duster so it's not obscene) and the same male servant who didn't listen to her say no saves her--more of the whole saving a life fixes everything message). When she turns into a human this male servant tries to grab her as she's wearing a very sexy getup for the 1700s (it's actually almost modern and out of place with the era) and strutting sexily in front of him. We watched this when my son was 5 and I instantly regretted it as there is a stabbing as well and lots of peril--be careful if your child is wary of dogs as this won't do them any favors. Gaston also likes to hit his friend on the head and once slams a musical instrument over his face (all of this is supposed to be funny--his lips are coming out the mouthpiece). Another violent time made to look funny: the servants throw themselves on the townspeople--clobbering them, breathing fire up their backside, knives raining down on them, etc... Too many complex issues to just be a 6 or 7 which is why I had to put it at a 9. For those of you (like my husband) who say well, just explain it to your child and viola, most movies are appropriate for any age--I'm guessing you've never had an easily impressionable child, media is a powerful pull. I would put it at 2 stars, but wow, this movie does have your attention with the music and artistry and all. It's also has a bit of a fan base that is convinced that since the beast's name is Adam (not mentioned in the movie) that there is religious symbolism in it--so there's that.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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