Belle and the Beast: A Latter-Day Tale

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Belle and the Beast: A Latter-Day Tale Movie Poster Image
Faith-based take on classic story is wholesome but bland.
  • PG
  • 2007
  • 91 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Belle maintains her good humor and kind demeanor without being a doormat in the face of Eric's nasty treatment.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Belle displays saint-like patience and kindness when she must pay off her father's debt to Eric, a man so cruel as to be known around town as the "Beast." She also puts up with a pushy suitor who doesn't seem to accept that she has no interest in him.

Violence & Scariness

Eric has angry but nonviolent outbursts.

Sexy Stuff

Belle and Eric kiss at the end of the story.

Language

Eric is deservedly called "mean" and "angry." Eric calls someone an "idiot."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Eric stopped drinking several years ago, having overindulged after the untimely death of his young wife. "I lost everything so I became a drunk," he says.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reworking of the Beauty and the Beast story has a religious backdrop. Eric, known as the "Beast" by the locals, lost his wife and his business a few years back and fell into alcoholism, which is not shown. Having quit drinking, he remains angry and mean to all those who work for him. Although he was once a churchgoer, he has not returned, believing God has abandoned him. When Belle must work as his assistant to help her father keep his job, she maintains her dignity and cheerfulness despite Eric's mistreatment, eventually knocking down his nasty defenses. 

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What's the story?

In a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale, pretty Belle (Summer Naomi Smart) is forced to work as an assistant to Eric (Matthew Reese), well known for being mean and angry since the loss of his young wife 10 years before. The locals call him the "Beast," but it's a reference to his character only as he is a handsome and sophisticated guy. Belle tells him, "God wants me to be happy," but Eric believes he has been abandoned by God and years before even turned to alcohol to dull his emotional pain. Sober for many years now, he is a hard-driving loner, running a successful business and treating everyone in his path badly. Gradually, Belle's good work and her refusal to be cowed by his dismissive nastiness opens his eyes to how much he has missed in life. Belle recognizes that sadness and loss are behind his isolation and bad behavior. As Eric becomes more considerate and happier, you can expect the inevitable coupling of the pair for a romantic ending.  

Is it any good?

Although the story is involving, the production sometimes looks and feels like a long commercial, and the acting and writing have little depth or complexity. The transformation of a lost soul into someone who can again see life's beauty might compel some viewers enough to overcome disappointments in cinematic quality. Best for Christian families looking for a religious interpretation of a classic story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to handle mean people. Should you be mean back? Should you try to help them by showing them kindness?

  • Do you think people sometimes have reasons for being mean to others? What are some life experiences that might make someone turn mean?

  • If someone is being too mean, what should you do? Who could help you?

Movie details

For kids who love fairy tales

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