A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a cheerful, if somewhat preachy, group of songs and stories. The songs will appeal to young children, but some kids may be disappointed to find this isn't a typical Disney animated feature, but a puppet show that incorporates old cartoons. And younger children may be disturbed by the Grimm Fairy Tale "Hansel and Gretel", in which Hansel gets transformed into a spider and Gretel gets thrown into an underground cell. Parents may want to remind their children that it's a cartoon and no one is really getting hurt. The Wolf in the "Three Little Pigs" also looks rather vicious. In one cartoon, Mrs. Potts suffers a poignant depression.
What's the story?
This straight-to-video release follows a TV format, with Belle and her puppet friends narrating a series of previously released cartoons. In the live action portion of this release, Belle is the owner of a lavish bookshop. Her love of reading is shared by a group of lively puppets, including two bookworms, a large ginger cat, and a red book with a mustache. A gaggle of precocious children visit Belle's shop and beg for stories. Belle is only too happy to oblige with tales about cooperation and teamwork. The first three animated tales, including one featuring the Beauty and the Beast cast, show characters working together to achieve a common goal. The last two demonstrate that pitching in and doing chores means everyone gets to have fun sooner. In the final scene, set during Belle's chili party, she proves that there's no such thing as a free lunch (or bowl of chili, as it were).
Is it any good?
It's never too soon to teach kids how to be good team players, and this entertaining release attempts to do just that through story and song. A few of the children that congregate in Belle's shop take turns being selfish and lazy, giving our heroine ample opportunity to illustrate the downside of those tendencies. Belle's instructions stay fairly entertaining with the help of some catchy tunes and cartoons straight out of Disney's vault.
Younger or more sensitive kids might be scared by some parts of the "Hansel and Gretel" and "Three Little Pigs" cartoons, and the "Beauty and the Beast" cartoon segment deals with Mrs. Potts' depression, but overall, this is a cheerful production (although parents may find the puppets irritating).
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: August 17, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: August 17, 1999
- Cast: Hampton Dixon, Kirsten Storms, Lynsey McLeod
- Director: Jimbo Marshall
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Friendship
- Run time: 70 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- MPAA explanation: not rated
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