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Beauty and the Beast (2012)

tomatometer

93

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 102
Fresh: 95 | Rotten: 7

Enchanting, sweepingly romantic, and featuring plenty of wonderful musical numbers, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most elegant animated offerings.

96

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 1

Enchanting, sweepingly romantic, and featuring plenty of wonderful musical numbers, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most elegant animated offerings.

audience

92

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 755,282

My Rating

Movie Info

Walt Disney Animation Studios' magical classic Beauty and the Beast returns to the big screen in Disney Digital 3D(TM), introducing a whole new generation to the Disney classic with stunning new 3D imagery. The film captures the fantastic journey of Belle (voice of Paige O'Hara), a bright and beautiful young woman who's taken prisoner by a hideous beast (voice of Robby Benson) in his castle. Despite her precarious situation, Belle befriends the castle's enchanted staff-a teapot, a candelabra and

Oct 8, 2002

$47.6M

Buena Vista - Official Site External Icon

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Cast

Latest News on Beauty and the Beast

June 5, 2014:
Bill Condon Directing Live-Action Beauty and the Beast
Another star-crossed love story for the "Twilight" veteran.
March 12, 2013:
Disney Plans Live-Action Beauty and the Beast
Screenwriter Joe Ahearne ("Trance") is at work on the script.

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All Critics (102) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (95) | Rotten (7) | DVD (35)

It's got storytelling vigor and clarity, bright, eclectic animation, and a frisky musical wit.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's exceptionally difficult to make an audience care for animated characters unless they're mermaids or anthropomorphized animals or insects, yet the Disney animators, with a big assist from the vocal talents of a superb cast, have pulled it off.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Beauty and the Beast is certainly adequate holiday entertainment for children and their more indulgent parents... But the film has little of the technical facility, vivid characterization and emotional impact of Disney past.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Magic.

May 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lovely film that ranks with the best of Disney's animated classics.

February 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What you gain in an extra, faked dimension you lose in lively, genuine beauty.

January 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Comments (2)
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At once enchanting and emboldening...

April 28, 2014 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

Once again, love will redeem the beast, and Beauty's dancing clocks and singing teacups will blend marvelously with the tintinnabulation of bells this holiday season.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

It is the most dynamic animated film ever made, and the prance of its camera, the sense of penetration into its action, the brilliantly paced editing pyrotechnics give it a crackle of life far more abundant than any feature that's come before.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Just like The Little Mermaid a couple of years ago, it blends child-pleasing characters and plot twists with jokes and musical styles that clearly have older spectators in mind.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

It's cartoon Cocteau, but just look at the children's faces as they watch it.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

It is a wondrous love story unsparing in its sentiment.

November 20, 2013 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Remains as wondrous and beautiful as ever.

June 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

The 3D revival sees this witty, dramatically inventive version of a familiar story wearing well.

May 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Pure fairytale escapism that doesn't boast any digital trickery, celebrity voiceovers or unnecessary action.

May 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Disney's most perfectly achieved combination of animation, story-telling and song must surely be this loving tribute to the old fairytale.

May 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

There's no doubting the craftsmanlike elegance of the film, summoning up with relish the spirit of classic fairytale Disney of the 50s and 60s...

May 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Unsubtle perhaps, but never fails to hit the right notes.

May 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Reaches a level of artistry, sophistication and musical excellence that's still to be bettered by the Mouse House - or indeed its rivals.

May 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The greatest animated film ever made and one of the screen's great musicals hardly needs this (3D) sort of sprucing up.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

I admit it: I wrote this more than 20 years ago. But, like " Beauty and the Beast" itself, I think it stands the test of time.

February 11, 2012 Full Review Source: KWQC-TV (Iowa)
KWQC-TV (Iowa)

Audience Reviews for Beauty and the Beast

The Disney Renaissance was underpinned by two major shifts in Disney thinking. One was a move back to the fairy tale and fantasy territory that had underpinned the Golden Age, and the other was a more confident and forthright approach to production and promotion. Disney spent much of the 1980s figuring out exactly what kind of stories they wanted to tell and how they wanted to sell them, and after many failed but interesting attempts, they finally hit lucky with The Little Mermaid.

But even with Mermaid's critical acclaim and box office success, Disney's return was by no means solidified. Their tactics of releasing films in quick succession suffered a setback when The Rescuers Down Under slipped under the radar, where it has remained somewhat ever since. It would take something really special to finally convince critics that Disney was well and truly back - and that special something was Beauty and the Beast. Even after 22 years, it still stands proud and untarnished as the perfect jewel in Disney's second crown.

In my review of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, I spoke about Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise being far more accomplished dealing with adaptations than they are with original stories. They are masters of taking a pre-existing, often reputable source, and channelling its darkness in a way that younger audiences can appreciate. The version presented here is hardly the most faithful to the original fairy tale (though such terms are problematic, considering the many different versions of all the classic stories). But it is extremely faithful to the spirit of the story and plays it straight, taking all the magical elements at face value.

This new-found confidence of Disney is plain to see throughout Beauty and the Beast. There are numerous scenes which draw on the company's back catalogue and invoke past glories, but unlike the wilderness years these references are driven by a desire to celebrate the past and integrate the present, rather than just film up the frame. There are big nods to Snow White in the opening scenes, with Belle's interaction with the animals mirroring that of her historical counterparts. The montages in 'Be Our Guest' look back to Fantasia, as do the dancing mops in 'Human Again' (which was cut from the original release). More esoterically, Gaston's character design owes a fair deal to that of Brom Bones in The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad.

The big question that's always raised regarding Beauty and the Beast is whether or not the film promotes Stockholm syndrome - the psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy, sympathy or affection towards their kidnappers over a prolonged period. The line of argument goes something like this. Belle is initially repulsed by the Beast, as any sensible person would be, and only falls in love with him as a result of being imprisoned by him. What seems like a genuine unlikely romance that succeeds against all odds is in fact an unfortunate psychological trauma, to which our heroine is condemned forever.

It may be fashionable and convenient to invoke, but in terms of the plot this argument holds no water. While it is true that Belle chooses to stay in the castle, she does so out of devotion to her father rather than affection for her captor. Her relationship with the Beast is strained at first and she continues to exercise authority, even when it will put her at opposition to him - in contrast to those with Stockholm syndrome, who end up fawning over their captors.

When the Beast rescues her in the forest (having allowed her to flee), she is genuinely thankful and repays kindness with kindness, not because she feels psychologically bound to, but because that was always in her nature. Finally, when the Beast allows her to go and save her father, she leaves freely of her own accord, and as before the Beast makes no effort to stop her or beg her to return - much to the amazement and despair of his loyal servants.

This line of defence also hints at another success of the film: its heroine. Belle is a far more rounded character and a far better role model than Cinderella, and the film has very different emphases compared to other Disney princess films before or since. A lot more time and care is given towards her intelligence, resourcefulness, independence and morality, setting her up as a genuinely likeable character who is more grown-up and worldly than, say, Aurora. Yes, she may be beautiful on the outside, but there's so much more to her than that.

Beyond Belle, the characterisation throughout Beauty and the Beast betrays immense care and attention to detail. The vast majority of the supporting cast don't appear in the original story, but genuine thought has gone into every last one of them, and many of the character decisions are both creative and imaginative. The physical characterisations match up beautifully with the personalities - Lumiere is light and greasy, Cosworth obsesses over punctuality and order, Mrs. Potts is warm and homely, and Chip is impish and precocious. If nothing else these decisions bring real character and coherence to this world, grounding the audience in their logic while always preserving the magic.

The visuals of Beauty and the Beast reflect the desire to find the magic and ethereal in the potentially ordinary. The whole colour palette has a blue tinge to it, extending to the dark shadows of the Beast's cloak in one direction and to the uninviting snow in the other. The film captures all the visual ingredients of the European fairy tale (forbidding castles, dark woods, close-knit villages, etc.) and presents them in the most ravishing way possible. It's as though Disney were attempting to justify its entire iconography through the strength of its animation, and suffice to say it works wonders.

The film runs a whole gamut of emotions and is masterful in shifting from and balancing different tones. Linda Woolverton, who also worked on The Lion King, understands the horror underpinnings of fairy tales, and neither she nor the directors pull any punches in the moments that need to be scary. The Beast's entrance is deeply intimidating, and the film makes excellent use of shadows and sounds to ramp up the terror through suggestion. Equally scary are the scenes in the West Wing, beginning slowly with Belle's face in the cracked mirror and then letting lose when the Beast discovers her and flies into a blinding rage.

Equally, Beauty and the Beast is an incredibly funny and heart-warming experience. Since the central relationship is so intense, much of the comic relief has to come from the supporting cast, and each character shines in their own way. Cogsworth is a hilarious fall guy, bringing endless merriment from his pomposity and cowardice. Certainly his antics rival those of Archimedes in The Sword in the Stone for pure unmitigated hilarity, and the glossier animation allows more of the physical humour to be fully realised.

Most of the heart-warming moments in the film are brought to life through Alan Menken's score. I've been hard on Jeffrey Katzenberg in the past (and with good reason, regarding The Black Cauldron), but his decision to make the film a musical was the right one. The songs are all stand-outs, combining catchy melodies and clever lyrics without ever sounding like the singers or writers are showing off. The first few notes of the title song are enough to make your heart sing and quiver, while 'Be Our Guest' remains completely irresistible.

Not only is the film tonally perfect, but the script understands the emotional depth and subtleties of the story. Its overarching themes about inner beauty and not judging by appearances are expertly conveyed through the strong character writing and development. Even the most cartoonish figures, like Gaston and Lefou, are written like believable human beings capable of rational decisions. Not only is the film's message a brilliant one for children, it's delivered in a manner that encourages them to think rather than just accept the events that they see.

Beauty and the Beast is the crowning glory of the Disney Renaissance and the company's best work since Sleeping Beauty. The respectful and intelligent treatment of the original story is married to beautiful visuals, fantastic character writing and a soundtrack that remains one of the best in any 1990s film. Even after all these years its power still remains, to wow your senses and above all win your heart.
July 9, 2013
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
June 21, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Magical and wonderful. Bright and vivid animation. Brilliant music with some of the best lyric writing you'll see in musical entertainment. Highly recommended for children and adults alike.
May 20, 2013
cchclaw

Super Reviewer

Upon recent viewing a few years ago, I thought the supporting characters more annoying than I did when I was younger, but the film is nevertheless a classic.

Upon yet another recent viewing, I found the songs more awkward and expository, and even reading-is-sexy Belle comes off as damselly and over-accommodating, not to mention rash and passive aggressive. Perhaps my once-unbridled enthusiasm for the film has been dampened by buzzfeed's barenaked ass-whupping of the "classic's" glaring plot holes http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/questions-disney-forgot-to-answer-about-beauty-and-the-be
April 24, 2013
aliceinpunderland

Super Reviewer

    1. Gaston: If I didn't know better, I'd think you had *feelings* for this monster.
    2. Belle: He's no monster, Gaston, *you* are!
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Gaston: It's not right for a woman to read. Soon as she starts getting *ideas*, and *thinking*...
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (3 months ago)
    1. Gaston: Were you in love with her, Beast? Did you honestly think she'd want you when she had someone like me?
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
    1. Beast: I wanna do something for her... but what?
    2. Cogsworth/Narrator: Well, there's the usual things: flowers... chocolates... promises you don't intend to keep...
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
    1. Chip: Mama, there's a girl in the castle!
    2. Mrs. Potts: Now, Chip, I won't have you making up such stories. Now into the tub.
    3. Chip: But mama!
    4. Featherduster: Madame! There is a girl in the castle!
    5. Chip: See! I told you.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
    1. Beast: I'll show you to your room.
    2. Belle: My room? But I thought...
    3. Beast: Do you wanna stay in the tower?
    4. Belle: No.
    5. Beast: Then follow me.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (4 months ago)
View all quotes (52)

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