Beauty and the Beast

Rated NR 120 minutes 2010

Despite some excessive narrative streamlining, this 1991 release was Disney's best animated feature in years, full of charm and humor. It seems to have benefited from the influence of Pee-wee's Playhouse, with anthropomorphized household objects managing the Beast's castle like enlightened domestics, as well as the filmmakers' fond memories of Busby Berkeley numbers and the torch-wielding villagers in Frankenstein. But the most fascinating buried textual references are to another Disney picture, Pretty Woman, which this trashes in agreeable ways: both the heroine, Belle, and the handsome-prince version of the Beast seem modeled after Julia Roberts, while the insufferably vain and boorish Gaston, who hopes to convert Belle into a kept woman, is a dead ringer for Richard Gere. Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, and featuring the voices of Robby Benson, Paige O'Hara, Richard White, Angela Lansbury, and Jerry Orbach.

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