Beauty and the Beast 1.0 stars

Beauty and the Beast movie poster

The Disney people, perhaps because their five-year recycling program causes them to lag behind the rising social consciousness and thus opens them to attack from assorted interest groups (Indians re Peter Pan, feminists re Cinderella), seem now, with their thirtieth feature-length cartoon, to spend as much time on Proper Attitudes as on enchantment. Hence our Beauty, like the new and improved Miss America, is also a brain (she reads books). Hence, too, the male chauvinist piggism of her brawny suitor (a metaphor made literal in a momentary mix-up in a mud puddle). Almost as much time, sometimes the very same time, is spent on unmemorable musical numbers which all sound like Broadway's Death Rattle. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block, however, is the visualization of the Beast, a bison-in-a-corset who is set up to represent self-absorbed and socially unconscious adolescence. Well and good. But there is nothing adolescent about this Darth Vader-voiced behemoth. (And why should he be several times the size of a normal human being instead of just several times as hairy?) Neither is there anything very frightening or repulsive about him. The contrast between human and nonhuman is doomed to be toned down in a cartoon, and the result threatens to turn into a conventional girl-and-her-furball animal tale. 1991.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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