Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Disney direct-to-DVD spin-off of the classic Beauty and the Beast is a collection of four separate stories. Beast can be kind one moment and full of rage the next, but ultimately Belle's generous manner always persuades him to redeem himself. There are a few moments when Beast is mean that may frighten the youngest viewers, but for the most part the various shorts feature the castle's enchanted characters and are fine for older preschoolers. Each of the vignettes offers a different lesson about forgiveness, friendship, and love.
What's the story?
This direct-to-DVD special includes four short tales that highlight different enchanted characters in Beast's castle. The vignettes include "The Perfect World," which shows how a dinner conversation between Beast (voiced by Robby Benson) and Belle (Paige O'Hara) escalates into a fight; "Fifi's Folly" is about how Fifi (Kimmy Robertson) thinks Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) has forgotten their anniversary and is smitten with Belle; "Mrs. Potts' Party" follows Belle as she plans a surprise party to cheer up a depressed Mrs. Potts (Anne Rogers); and "The Broken Wing" focuses on an injured bird that Belle is nursing to health but winds up locked in a cage by the Beast.
Is it any good?
BELLE'S MAGICAL WORLD is feature length at 92 minutes, but it's a collection of four different tales rather than one, and the short stories don't have anything do with each other. Viewers expecting the same level of animation, storytelling, or musicality as the original will be disappointed by the budget look of this installment, which takes place after Enchanted Christmas but before the spell is broken at the end of the original.
Since several key members of the original cast return, it's a treat to hear O'Hara, Benson, Orbach, and Cogsworth's David Ogden Stiers (among others) voice their beloved characters again. None of the stories is particularly memorable, but they're all amusing enough to delight Belle fans, who will also appreciate that O'Hara's lovely singing voice is highlighted in two original songs. Belle is one of the best Disney princesses, because she's not waiting around for a prince to save her -- she's the one who will eventually save the Beast; her charming personality and kind spirit save this otherwise forgettable quartet of friendship tales.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's focus on relationships. How does each short story highlight a different relationship and what it needs to overcome?
What is "The Perfect World" segment's lesson in forgiveness? Why must an apology be from the heart? Can Belle tell the difference between Beast's real apology and the fake one?
Do these straight-to-DVD movies live up to the original's standards? What's the appeal if they aren't as good as the first one? When you love a character, does it make you want to buy stuff with his or her face or name on it?