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"BEAUTY & THE BEAST: THE ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS"
(1997) (voices of Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson) (G)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None None Mild *Mild None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Mild None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None None None Mild Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Children's Animated: Set in the middle of the original "Beauty & The Beast," a young woman imprisoned in a castle hopes that her Christmas spirit will warm the heart of the Beast who runs the manor.
PLOT:
This story is set in the middle of the original "Beauty & The Beast" where a handsome young prince has been turned into a Beast (voice of ROBBY BENSON) and his servants have been turned into everyday castle items. The only way the curse will ever be lifted is for a woman to fall in love with him, and he for her. His servants, including Lumiere the candelabra (voice of JERRY ORBACH), Cogsworth the clock (voice of DAVID OGDEN STIERS), Mrs. Potts the teakettle (voice of ANGELA LANSBUY), and her son Chip the cup (VOICE OF HALEY JOEL OSMONT), all hope that Belle (voice of PAIGE O'HARA) will be the one to break the spell.

Trapped in his castle from a deal in the original movie, Belle tries to bring the Beast out of his temperamental shell, and hopes that the spirit of Christmas will help. She gets Angelique the ornament (voice of BERNADETTE PETERS), who was the former castle decorator, to help spruce up the manor. Forte (voice of TIM CURRY) the pipe organ and former court composer, however, wants everything to remain the way it is since he's now the Beast's most trusted confidant. Chained to the wall, Forte gets Fife the flute (voice of PAUL REUBENS) to do what he can to prevent the Beast and Belle's relationship from continuing. As Christmas Day approaches, Belle and the others race against time, and Forte's plans, to make sure the holiday spirit will overcome the Beast.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they liked the original (or essentially any Disney animated film), they probably will.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: G
For not containing any material to warrant a higher rating.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
It's questionable whether young kids see animated characters as role models. Still, the majority of the characters are okay. The exceptions are the Beast with his tantrums, and the efforts of Forte and Fife to prevent the Beast and Belle's relationship from growing.
CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
This is a strange straight-to-video release in that it's not a sequel, or even a prequel, but some sort of "midquel." For it inexplicably takes place in the middle of the original "Beauty & The Beast" (1991), somewhere after Belle is imprisoned in the castle but before the big dance number at the end. Sequels have always been looked down upon by most everyone since they're usually designed just to make money off the reputation and memories of the original film. This video, while again not a sequel, is quite guilty of that sin. Yet this film is even worse in that it intrudes upon -- and forcibly spreads apart -- the original story and soils one's memory of it.

Of course "the Mouse" (you know who we're talking about) wants to make some money from this series, figuring that parents will rush out to buy it -- especially with all of the heavy promotion and since most of the original vocal talents have returned to inhabit the characters. Unfortunately, the rest of the crew didn't return and this video -- while competent -- certainly can't stand anywhere near the original. While that film clicked on all cylinders -- and was the first and only animated film ever to be nominated as Best Picture of the year -- this one comes off a cheap wannabe.

Like most follow up movies, most of the original film's elements have returned. Here we have the original characters (with most of the original voices), a scary forest with wolves, and some big Broadway-like musical numbers. We also get a great deal of the original plot where Belle continually tries to warm the Beast's cold heart. What's missing, though, is the magic and spirit that inhabited the first film. In comparison, this one continuously feels flat and uninspired.

Part of that lies in the less than sensational music. Following in the footsteps of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's Oscar winning score & lyrics from the original, this film's composer and lyricist had their work cut out for them right from the beginning. How do you compete with the earlier films' accomplishments? The answer is that you try to reproduce it, but this score by composer Rachel Portman ("The Adventures of Pinnochio" and the Academy Award winning score for "Emma") and the lyrics by Don Black don't even come close. While there are a few decent numbers, none of them compare to the award winning material that so delighted us in the original.

Using a Canadian animation shop for the first time, this film's visuals don't equal that found in Disney's theatrical releases -- most likely due to a lower budget -- but it's probably the best straight-to-video animation yet. While it occasionally looks rather flat and the characters don't quite look as good as they did in the original (especially Belle who at times looks rather odd), there are some nice touches.

Most notable are those involving Forte, the evil pipe organ, who is mostly computer animated. His character has much more visual depth and seems more alive than his drawn counterparts, and the results look wonderful. His surroundings have that same look, and as "Toy Story" proved, this is probably the way animation will be made in the coming years. While it does look quite impressive (and Tim Curry delivers a fun vocal take to accompany the character), the scenes where the traditional animation mixes with the computer generated material looks quite bad, and really makes the hand drawn stuff pale in comparison.

For the most part the plot works -- since they lifted much of it from the original -- but some new elements don't make any sense. Forte, who's been turned into a huge cathedral-like organ, wants to remain that way. It seems he's become the master's most trusted confidant and friend, and by lifting the spell over the castle, this relationship would change. Of course Forte would be human again, but what the hey -- if he likes being an organ, he likes being an organ. What makes the plot rather listless, however, is the fact that we've essentially seen the story (in the original) and since this one takes place in the middle of that film, there's little or no sense of uncertainty regarding the outcome.

Of course younger kids won't pay much attention to that, and will probably enjoy watching this film nearly as much as they did the original. It's just too bad that Disney didn't care to capture the hearts and minds of the adults like they did with the first one. Perhaps the obvious marketing savvy behind this video has tainted our opinion of it, but none of that is helped by the video's length that barely runs for seventy minutes (including credits) -- just proving that it was obviously never intended for theatrical release.

All of that just makes the film feel cheaper, but it's nice to see in the end credits that the people behind this film acknowledge the superiority of the first. A line reads: "This film would not have been possible without the inspiration from the original motion picture and the work of its talented artists and animators." What they probably found when making this one -- and what we can easily see -- is that while it's easy to copy the recipe, that doesn't always insure a delectable feast. Sometimes the magic comes from the chef's touch, and this film feels more like it was stirred up by the burger flipper at the local fast food joint than someone wanting to make a quality movie. We give "Beauty & The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas" a 4 out of 10.

OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
If you and/or your kids saw the original "Beauty & The Beast," you've pretty much seen this film. Some of the character's appearances, such as those of the Beast and/or Forte may be unsettling to younger viewers, especially if they didn't see the original. There are also a few scenes that may similarly be a bit frightening for very young viewers. Beyond that and a few bad attitudes, however, the video is rather void of objectionable material. Still, since this release is aimed at very young kids, we suggest that you take a look through the material to make sure it's appropriate for everyone in your family.

ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Forte wants to maintain the status quo, because by doing so he'll remain as the master's best confidant and friend. Thus, he does everything in his power to ruin Belle and the Beast's growing fondness toward each other.
  • Fife spies on the others after Forte blackmails him with a soloist offer he can't turn down.
  • The Beast occasionally has both as he loses his temper or thrashes the others' Christmas decorations. In a brief flashback as the young spoiled prince, he has great deals of both as he ridicules others for their gifts, and then turns down an elderly woman's pleas for shelter from a storm.
  • Belle breaks her word to the Beast and ventures away from the castle and into the forbidden Black Forest.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • To very young kids, the Beast's appearance might be scary. Likewise, Forte's appearance and his often sinister-sounding organ music may also scare younger viewers.
  • The flashback scene where the Prince is turned into the Beast might be a little scary for some younger viewers.
  • Belle ventures into the forbidden Black Forest where some menacing looking wolves approach them. Fife startles Belle's horse that then panics and shatters the ice-covered lake they're on. Chip then falls into the water and Belle dives in after him. Pieces of the ice then separate, and a rope catches Belle and pulls her underwater. The Beast has to save her as she's pulled deeper into the icy cold lake, and all of that may be a bit intense for younger viewers.
  • Forte loudly plays his music to make the castle walls crumble, and many large pieces nearly hit Belle and the others.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Wretched old hag," and "Windbag."
  • Chip, as a boy, slides down a banister backwards.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is a mild amount of suspenseful music in a few scenes. Additionally, Forte's heavy, brooding organ music may be a bit unsettling for younger viewers.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 1 hell (as in "It's hell when...") is heard in the video.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The fact that the Prince was turned into the Beast due to his selfish and surly attitude, and that he was lucky that Belle came around and persevered at changing him.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Lumiere (the candelabra) briefly lights Cogsworth's butt on fire to get him moving.
  • The Beast violently overturns a table, destroying the Christmas decorations on it, and also smashes a chair against the wall and shreds some draperies.
  • Forte plays loud music that shatters a window and then sends pieces of the castle falling to the floor, nearly hitting several other characters (and he says of Belle and the Beast, "They can't fall in love if they're dead").
  • Forte sends out musical sounds that physically knock the Beast backwards until the Beast smashes Forte's keyboard.



  • Reviewed November 11, 1997

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