Every day until Christmas Eve, we’ll be taking a look at a holiday-themed piece of animation. Check back each day for a new review!
before and you’re wondering why he still looks like a beast, well, it’s sort of a midquel. It opens with the cast of characters we remember – including some new ones that I’ll get to later – all in human-form. Human Mrs Potts decides to tells a Christmas story about Belle and the Beast before the spell was broken. If you’ve seen the other direct-to-video movie
then I don’t blame you for ever touching a Disney sequel ever again. Thankfully
doesn’t fall into the “really bad” Disney sequel category.
The story is about Belle’s desire to bring Christmas to the castle and the Beast’s reluctance to celebrate it. To be fair to the big hairy guy, this film suggests the curse that turned him into a beast happened at Christmas. I’m going to start this review by sharing a little piece of dialogue with you:
The reason I share these lines with you is because it tells us two things. The first, is shows how these are the characters we know. Doesn’t that sound like the angst Beast and the spirited Belle from the original movie? The second, to show how the dialogue has its surprising moments of depth. There’s a scene in the movie where Belle ventures out to find a Christmas tree in the forest but the Beast thinks she’s leaving. He has to save her from icy waters. This leads to some emotional tension that I was really impressed by. The movie does not shy away from presenting the difficult relationship between them.
So who are the new characters? There’s a sassy angel decoration (voiced by Bernadette Peters), an annoying little flute (voiced Paul Reubens) and a stereotypical Jewish hammer (voiced by Jeff Bennet) that boarders on insulting. These guys are a nice addition but nothing to rave about. Although, I do like how all the Christmas tree decorations are little enchanted objects too. Except there are about fifty of them. How many workers did the Beast have? Didn’t he care they were all locked up in the attic never to see the light of Christmas day again? I always had a theory as a child that their job was to come into the castle at Christmas time to decorate the place but, unfortunately for them, they were caught up in the enchantress’ curse. Bad timing. A little fan theory for a not-so-jolly Christmas.
Let’s talk about the songs next. The sequence for the song “Stories” is actually as good as anything you’d see in a Disney theatrical release. Paige O’Hara returns to voice Belle and her singing voice still gives me chills. They give her a really solid song that utilizes her talent for ballads. I haven’t even mentioned “As Long as it’s Christmas” yet. Now that’s a song that stops the show. The lyrics are written by Don Black (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
) and the beautiful score is composed by the incredibly talented Rachel Portman (
fan and you’re on the fence about whether to give this movie a chance, I say the songs more than make up for the bad.
The first thing that amazed me when I experienced this movie was the animation. When I say “amazed me”, I do mean in terms of Disney’s direct-to-video sequel quality. It’s not bad at all. And if you look at all the images in this review you can tell the movie has kept its gothic fairytale theme. It also blends in some CG. Some good and some not so good. The good is the snow. The opening scene with Belle and Beast ice-skating looks beautiful with the falling snow. However, the giant CG Pipe Organ leaves a little to be desired. Take a look at the picture below:
He looks okay, his slick metal texture does lend itself to CG, but the problem is he’s placed smack in the middle of a fully 2D animated movie. This new villainous character, named Forte (it’s amazing how every character has an apt name for the object they’re enchanted into), is saved by the simple fact that he’s voice by Tim Curry (
). His humming maniacal laugh and dramatic singing voice is used to the extreme here. This brings me on to the “Don’t Fall in Love” musical sequence. Organ music can be eerie. It’s definitely not the cheeriest of sounds. So the idea of an organ being the villain works really well. Particularity since he’s bolted to the wall and has to use other means to get his way, like the use of manipulating songs. The strange thing is, however, is that Forte’s song has these creepy green-lit cherubs wandering about. How or why Forte has the power to create these? I don’t know. This does not seem fitting to
at all. They’re a far cry from the charming cherubs painted on the wall in the classic ballroom scene of the original movie. I’m not saying they’re
. On the contrary, they’re very creative and you can’t take your eyes off them. But as a sequence for a Disney Princess movie, what were they thinking? It’s the “Pink Elephants on Parade”
talk about Beast’s flashback scene. Forte is shown in human-form here with a very pasty face and a gloomy expression. If the movie was released now I’m sure he’d have a small but passionate fanbase. The prince is shown in human-form too, back when he was young, selfish and cruel. He gets melodramatically angry at an old beggar woman who disturbs his Christmas and he demands the “wretched old hag” to leave. This old beggar woman is, of course, the enchantress that curses him. Heck, if I was an enchantress in disguise I would curse him too for being so unjustifiably mean. Even if it was Christmas.
This Beast transformation scene fits perfectly into this world. As a kid I always got the original and the Christmas movie mixed-up and I’d be scratching my head wondering where the fully animated transformation scene of the Beast was in
. So, because of this fact, I’m going to argue that you could slice this scene into the original movie and it wouldn’t be out of place. The problem is we have a reason the Beast gets angry at Christmas but we don’t have a reason why he was mean in his younger years. But maybe asking for a flashback in the flashback is too much.
I was getting ready to prod and poke at the bad in this movie when I started this review. When I pressed “play” on my television I was sure I wouldn’t like it as much as I did when I was a kid. But I couldn’t be happier that I fully enjoyed this movie in adulthood. Do bare in mind that this review is coming from a Disney fan. And someone who feels nostalgic towards it too. I’m not saying this is
where the sequel meets the first movie’s excellence. Far from it. But as a sequel to a well-beloved Disney movie, it could be a lot worse. It’s passable to most but to me it’s now a little something special to watch at Christmas time, particularly when I’ve worn out my
DVD. So, do you have fond memories of this movie too? Don’t care for it? Never seen it and never will? Let me know what you think about
I have seen it as a kid but don’t remember much. My brother seems to have a better memory about it and thinks it is not worth the watch.
Yeah I don’t remember it much as a kid since well I wasn’t a fan of the films as a kid (too scared of the beast haha) but now since I just love Beauty and the Beast so much and then just seeing this article, I’ll probably check this sequel out for old times sake ^.^
I think you are being far too kind to this lazy cash grab.
I’m guilty of nostalgic unconditional love for this little movie too! I liked it SO much as a kid! I think the fact that it’s a “mid-quel” helps, because it doesn’t ruin the original movie if you don’t like it (and it’s easier to pretend it never happened, unlike Pocahontas 2… Sniff sniff whyyy Disney, whyyy?). Thanks for the review, I’ll definitely rewatch it now as an adult!
A few years ago, I was helping in an elementary school’s Christmas party. The teacher wanted a movie playing in the background while snacks were being served, so she just grabbed a VHS copy of Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. When the “Stories” song came on, every kid in that class stopped what they were doing and became glued to the screen. Yeah, Enchanted Christmas is no classic, but it’s still pretty darn good.
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