(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing the DVD cover of Fantasia, and then showing clips from Beauty and the Beast)
Doug (vo): Okay, so a lot of you know that my favorite animated Disney film is Fantasia, of course. But if I had to choose one that told a coherent story from beginning to end, cashing in on the Disney fairy tale aspect, then that would definitely have to be Beauty and the Beast. Why? Because everything is done perfect. The main character is perfect, the villain is perfect, the romance is perfect, the songs are perfect. Even the design of the castle, look at that thing. It’s like something out of The Haunting. It’s just frigging incredible. But let’s start at the beginning.
Doug (vo): We get a cleverly narrated backstory through stained glass windows, telling us the tale about how the prince, who had little to no love in his heart, gets turned into a beast by a sorcerer after treating her so cruel. He was given a magic rose that is slowly withering away. If he can learn how to fall in love and be loved in return, he’ll go back to human. Thus, we enter Belle. She’s the oddball of the neighborhood because she’s hot as hell, but she doesn’t flaunt it. She doesn’t hang out with other women fawning over men, she just reads her books and doesn’t bother anybody, which, of course, confuses a very gossipy town, that is, except for Gaston. In any other movie, he’d probably be the hero, but here, he’s the good-looking villain who has much more muscle than brains. He thinks that because he’s the best-looking man in town and Belle’s the best-looking woman in town, naturally they should get married. Isn’t that great logic? But when Belle turns him down, he swears to get his bride. While that’s going on, Belle’s father leaves town and comes across an enchanted castle, where the Beast lives. But the Beast says he’s trespassing and throws him in the dungeon, where Belle finds him later. She exchanges her life for his and he lets him go. Though the Beast sees this as an opportunity to finally fall in love, he’s not very social. In fact, he’s downright, well, beastly.
[The scene showing Beast trying to get Belle to leave her room is shown]
Beast: I thought I told you to come down to dinner!
Belle: I'm not hungry!
Beast: I'LL BREAK DOWN THE DOOR!
Doug (vo): But through the help of some very well-chosen and very well-paced events, the two actually do start to fall in love with each other. They both slowly start to let down their defenses and start to see the good in one another, which, of course, leads to romance, sadness, action, bloodshed, magic, all that good stuff.
Doug (vo): People fell in love with this movie. In fact, at the time, it was the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. That was unheard of. So why did it hit a chord with so many people? Well, first of all, it goes back to the Disney roots, but follows all the way through. It’s a fairy tale, and it knows that, and it totally engulfs itself in it. But as fairy tales go, there’s a few twists. This time, the couple actually has to take their time to fall in love with each other. They don’t just meet, and suddenly, they’re meant for one another. And the movie is actually very clever at not saying how long they’re together. It could be weeks, it could be months, so that way, you’re allowed to draw your own conclusion.
[Clips of Gaston are shown]
Doug (vo): The villain is a much more realistic villain. He doesn’t just start off just evil and bad, he’s actually the town hero. But as he fails to get his way for longer and longer, he turns to more desperate measures, which leads to one of the more obvious but still pretty poignant lines.
Belle: He's no monster, Gaston. You are!
[Clips of Belle are shown]
Doug (vo): And then you got Belle. Belle is one of the best animated characters ever. She looks good, but she doesn’t show off. She’s kind, though she has her limits. People mock her, though she could really care less. She’s just off doing her own thing, not giving a shit what anybody says. On top of that, she’s looking for something a little more specific than most Disney female leads. And that’s something greater than herself, something grand, something spectacular, something that she can barely comprehend. That’s actually pretty deep for a kids’ film. It’s much better than saying, "I want a prince or feet or whatever." And it also works out because it turns out what she’s searching for is in the very last place she would ever look. Now there is an argument that maybe Belle is too perfect, that she’s not really that complex because she doesn’t have many problems or flaws, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see that. She’s much more of a role model, the kind of person we want to be as opposed to the kind of people we encounter. I don’t know. If it’s still a good role model and the character still seems existable, I don’t see much of a problem. I don’t really see the downside of liking her. It’s that belief of the best of humanity. So for me, I really enjoy her. She’s kind, smart and just does her own thing.
[Clips of the Beast are shown]
Doug (vo): I should also talk about the Beast, too. I love the way this thing is designed. Whenever I heard the story of Beauty and the Beast before this movie came out, this is pretty much what I imagined the Beast looked like, very big, very werewolf-like. So I thought he was awesome. I guess if I had to pick one problem with the movie, it would be the design of the human version of the Beast. The animators say that no matter what they put there, the people wouldn’t be happy because, well, they fell in love with the Beast and not this guy. I think that’s kind of true, but I don’t know. If you put in Eric or Aladdin or something, I don’t think anyone would complain. And plus, people fell in love with the Beast because you called him Beast. What’s his real name? Did she just keep calling him Beast after he transformed? Oh, well. It’s a nitpick.
Doug (vo): Do I really have to explain what else is good about this movie? You all know the songs, you all know how great the animation is, you all remember these characters, it’s just a flawless film. As I get older and older, it only gets better and better. It’s the pure Disney fairy tale done to the absolute best. I’d say go see it, but let’s face it. You already have.
[The film's famous ballroom dance sequence is shown, as the final song is heard]
Chorus: Beauty and the Beast!