Beauty and the Beast

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Beauty and the Beast Movie Poster Image
Fantastic but scarier remake of the "tale as old as time."
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 129 minutes
 Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 70 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 92 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

Kids familiar with the animated version will learn about adaptations and the impact of live-action stories vs. animated ones. They'll also become familiar with one of the most universal fairy tales in Western literature and learn lessons about compassion and humility.

Positive messages

It's important to see beneath the surface (looks, social class, etc.) to really know who people are. The Beast's curse illustrates the importance of generosity of spirit rather than greed and shows the value of humility. Belle's love of books demonstrates the transformative power of reading/education, and her interest in teaching a girl to read shows that girls should be every bit as educated as boys. Also, you can't just stand by when someone treats someone else poorly; you should act. Freedom is essential to true happiness. Themes also include compassion, empathy, and curiosity.

Positive role models & representations

Belle is intelligent, strong-willed, curious, and kind. She's a loving daughter who gives up her freedom in exchange for her father's. Maurice is doting and sweet. The Beast learns to love because of his relationship with Belle, and Belle sees beyond his rough exterior to his gentler soul, buried beneath his demanding, beastly exterior. The castle servants work together to help Belle see beyond the Beast's scarier aspects. Several characters redeem themselves. Gaston is selfish, shallow, and cruel, but he's clearly intended to be a villain/poor example. The supporting cast is very diverse.

Violence & scariness

Scary, intense scenes involving snarling, hungry wolves. They attack Maurice after a tree suddenly falls in front of his wagon in a dark, spooky forest, and they go after Belle when she leaves the castle (the Beast fights them and is left wounded and bleeding). The Beast growls/roars several times. Belle takes a snowball to the face. (Spoiler alert!) Flashbacks reveal that the prince's and Belle's mothers both died of sickness; their children are separated from them in both cases (sad/upsetting). Gaston yells at Maurice, threatens him, punches him, and ties him to a tree and leaves him there. Gaston has Maurice and Belle arrested and violently incites mob violence (pitchforks, torches, battering rams, etc.) and uses a gun to shoot the Beast. Villagers and castle servants fight. One character plummets to their death as the castle crumbles.

Sexy stuff

Flirting, dancing (both opposite-sex and same-sex couples), and a couple of kisses. Some dresses show a little cleavage.

Language

Insults include "idiot," "fool," "crazy," "delusional," "peculiar," "hag," etc. Also "shut up" and a reference to "eternal damnation."

Consumerism

Nothing in the film itself, but Disney has plenty of merchandising tie-ins, from apparel and accessories to toys.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Villagers drink at their local tavern.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beauty and the Beast is Disney's live-action remake of the classic 1991 animated musical, with Emma Watson as book-loving, independent Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Although the movie will appeal to even very young viewers, especially those familiar with the original, the remake's violent sequences can be very intense, with a few jump-worthy and upsetting moments (several involving snarling wolves, others guns) that leave characters bloodied, injured, and, in one case, dead. As always, the story encourages viewers to look beyond the superficial and to be compassionate, curious, humble, and generous. Director Bill Condon took care to make sure that this version had diverse supporting characters, including a gay LeFou (Josh Gad) -- Gaston's sidekick, who briefly dances with a man -- and people of color not represented in the animated version.

User Reviews

Parent of a 8 year old Written byChristina M. March 18, 2017

Think twice about beauty and the beast

Although this movie hand a happy ending, my 8 y.o daughter had to sit through 2 hours of traumatizing violence to get there. Beauty and the beast added several...
Adult Written byGhost93 March 6, 2017

Not the original, but still good

A harmless fairy tale that will enchant all ages. The controversy leading up to the movie was definitely misleading. There is no gay kiss or romance. There is...
Teen, 13 years old Written byTeenmoviedude March 5, 2017

I dont understand what any of you are talking about here

This was a very scene to scene adaptation of the old beauty and the beast original, and it had mostly the same content, the only caution about this movie, (witc...
Teen, 14 years old Written bylily the margo March 16, 2017

Watch it in 3D

This was really a beautiful movie. exciting at every scene and there never really is a boring moment. I only gave four stars because the "be our guest...

What's the story?

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST opens with a prologue: A greedy, careless, party-loving French prince (Dan Stevens) refuses to help an old woman seeking shelter, so she transforms into an enchantress and places a curse on him. It turns him into an ugly beast and his castle's attendants into household objects until he can find someone to love him despite his looks. Years later, Belle (Emma Watson), a smart, book-loving girl living in the village near the castle dreams of something more than her daily routine. Vain war hero Gaston (Luke Evans) has his sights set on Belle for a wife, but she's not interested. After Belle's father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), ends up imprisoned in the enchanted castle, she follows him and offers herself up as a prisoner in exchange for his freedom. Meanwhile, the Beast's household staff -- led by candelabra Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), clock Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), and teakettle Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) -- conspire to help Belle see their beastly master as something more ... and possibly break the spell.

Is it any good?

Watson is an ideal Belle in this wonderful remake that's at once nostalgic and new, bringing to life the musical both for kids and life-long adult fans. Her Belle is relatable and sympathetic, with her curious eyes and aura of clever bookishness and strong-willed personality (Watson was also Hermione Granger, after all!). It turns out Watson can sing well, too; she's no rival to six-time Tony-winning co-star Audra McDonald, who plays Madame Garderobe, but her voice is clear and crisp and full of the longing and wanderlust that Belle conveys so beautifully in Alan Menken's songs. Stevens does a fine job with the Beast, playing up the character's frustration, anger, underlying sadness -- and eventual love -- in his voice and gestures.

But we all know that Beauty and the Beast is just as much about the supporting characters as it is the central couple, and director Bill Condon's ensemble doesn't disappoint. Kline's Maurice is even funnier than his bumbling animated counterpart, and McGregor and McKellen are hilarious as odd-couple duo Lumiere and Cogsworth. Thompson is comforting as Mrs. Potts, and her boy Chip is ever as lovable. And then there's Evans as narcissistic Gaston, who's so full of himself that he can't fathom why Belle won't agree to be his bride, and the amazing Josh Gad, who steals the show as Gaston's adoring (and smitten) sidekick LeFou. Menken's original songs are rendered with appropriate spectacle, particularly "Be Our Guest," but the new ones are decidedly bittersweet, underscoring the sadness both Belle and Beast feel about their situations. The gorgeous costumes and extraordinary set design add to the movie's overall delight, but it's the performances that stand out in this memorable musical remake. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the live-action Beauty and the Beast compares to the original animated version. Which differences do you like most? Which did you like least?

  • Even if you were expecting them, how did the movie's scary scenes make you feel? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • How do the characters demonstrate compassion, curiosity, humility, and empathy? Why are those important character strengths?

  • How does Belle compare to other Disney princesses? Is she curious? Do you consider her a role model?

  • What makes Gaston's conceited, self-centered nature funny? Is he a caricature of the stereotypical leading man? Do your feelings about him change over the course of the story? Why?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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