After Disney's big comeback The Little Mermaid, it was now the dawn of a new era and the opportunity for the studio to think big and stop just making animal versions of things, for a little while at least.
So here we have Beauty And The Beast, another classic fairy-tale being given the Disney treatment, and if you watched it growing up then you probably know there's not much to whine about: it's definitely one of the good ones. The film looks fantastic, the score is excellent, the story is timeless. You've got some great voice acting from the likes of Robby Benson (Beast) and Paige O'Hara (Belle), not to mention Angela Lansbury as... a talking teapot. The songs in the film are celebrated, the title song even won the Academy Award, but they're arguably not quite on the level of the songs in The Little Mermaid, Aladdin or even The Lion King. This is one of those rare Disney movies where the score is actually way better than the songs themselves. "Be Our Guest" and the "Gaston" song are always fun, though.
Speaking of which, the villain this time around is Gaston. The vain womanizing pig starts off as a throwaway self-involved playboy who just wants Belle because she's the only girl in the village who doesn't like him. But then it all takes a weird turn when he decides to get Belle's dad sent to a mental institution so that she'll agree to marry him. Because that's always a turn on. Belle is your typical Disney girl-next-door who dreams of a better life but unlike Ariel, who mostly just likes to collect shiny things, she at least enjoys literature and isn't shallow making her a slightly better role model. What makes this film one of Disney's best really is its moody atmosphere: this is a dark, gothic fairy-tale and this adaptation nails that even with those big musical numbers and the more upbeat moments.
Despite it being "a tale as old as time", Disney breathed new life into the Beauty And The Beast story with a beautifully animated, really fun and sweet yet not without its edge feature that remains one of the Mouse House's finest achievements.
Still a joy.