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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Beauty and the Beast (remade in live action in 2017) is one of Disney's most beloved "princess" stories -- and the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Beast's initial ferocity might scare younger viewers, though once they've seen his gentle side, scenes of him being hunted and stabbed by Gaston are likely to be emotionally upsetting. The sequence in which a mob comes after Beast is also quite intense, and there's a fair bit of cleavage on display during the bar-set "Gaston" number. But kids mature enough for feature-length stories will find this one of the best Disney movies they could spend time with in terms of intelligence, quality, and originality -- not to mention having one of Disney's smartest, most independent heroines. Note: The movie's 2012 3D theatrical rerelease intensified the musical numbers like "Be Our Guest" and the waltz scene in "Beauty and the Beast," but it didn't make Beast's roars or the mob scenes too much scarier than they are in 2D.
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What's the story?
In BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, when a snobby prince turns away an old woman selling apples because of her ugly appearance, she casts a spell that turns him into a beast and his staff into objects. Only finding someone to love him can undo the enchantment, but misfortune turns Beast (voiced by Robby Benson) bitter and mean. But when curious young Belle (Paige O'Hara) from the village comes to the castle looking for her missing father, the staff -- a motley collection of servants enchanted to look like household items -- hopes she'll break the spell, even as Beast holds her prisoner. At first repulsed by Beast, Belle later sees the beautiful person inside him. But will her love save him from a village determined to kill him?
Is it any good?
Stellar music, brisk storytelling, delightful animation, and compelling characters make this both a great animated feature for kids and a great movie for anyone. Beauty and the Beast may not be Disney's most iconic movie, but it stands as the studio's crowning achievement, earning a Best Picture Oscar nomination (the first animated film to achieve that honor) and a Golden Globe for Best Picture, In essence, all great stories are about transformation, and this one beats out even Cinderella as the ultimate makeover story, with Beast's inner transformation preceding his outer one. Some editions of the DVD include an additional scene and a new song, but the original movie stands on its own merit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Belle and Beast's first impressions of each other in Beauty and the Beast. What did they discover about each other as their relationship grew and as the Beast learned humility and self-control? What message does that send to viewers?
Why do you think Gaston was so surprised that Belle didn't want to marry him? How does their relationship poke fun at fairy tale cliches?
- In theaters: November 22, 1991
- On DVD or streaming: September 6, 2016
- Cast: Paige O'Hara, Richard White, Robby Benson
- Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Fairy Tales, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Compassion, Curiosity, Empathy, Humility
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
- Last updated: August 4, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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