Family Friendly Review: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

By Sean Gardner

Disney has been cranking out classics basically since the silent era and Beauty and the Beast is no exception. The first animated film to ever be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, Beauty and the Beast revolutionized animation and story telling as a whole. It was one of the first films to utilize computer animation instead of hand drawn animation. While it was not completely computer generated it seamlessly combined the two types of animation and symbolically passes the torch from hand drawn to computer animation. Since then, Pixar, Disney’s computer animation studio, has had a nearly perfect record of films. But besides all that, the story and characters are what make Beauty and the Beast one of the best films of all time. 

Cursed as a young man, the Beast must live in his enchanted castle until he finds true love. Sounds cliche, but what makes it more than just your run of the mill kids movie is the character development. Every character is more than what they appear to be on the outside. The Beast, while physically monstrous, turns out to be a soft hearted and gentle person. Gaston is the opposite: a physical specimen of muscular prowess, but with a narcissistic and vile personality. Even minor characters such as Lumiere and Le Fou are deep enough to keep the story interesting when the main characters are not present. 

What adds more to the storytelling is the music. At it’s core, Beauty and the Beast is an animated Broadway musical. It could very easily have been a live action opera the way the music fits so organically into the story. It makes for some great laughs and emotionally touching moments. 

Overall, it is a pretty family friendly movie. There are some scary images of the Beast and gargoyles in his castle. There is some mild violence during a few fight scenes involving the Beast. Some younger children under the age of 4 or 5 might get scared by the violence or the Beast in the earlier scenes. Thematically, the message is pretty simple; it’s what’s on the inside that counts. There is enough substance to the story and characters to keep adults entertained. So, I would say that it is mostly acceptable for all ages. 

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