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YMMV: Beauty and the Beast

Disney Film
  • Accidental Aesop: The townsfolk repeatedly call Belle "strange" and "odd", presumably because she is a bookworm and ignores the local jerk. So the lesson of the song is, "If you are kind, chaste, and intellectual, people will think you are weird and your only friends will be talking furniture." This could, however, also be taken in the in-verse, seeing as Belle is quite clearly the protagonist and the folks are not all portrayed positively. "Remain true to yourself despite what others think."
  • Accidental Innuendo: "Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly." Ummm. Disney should not be putting people's minds into the gutter..
    • Gaston's Villain Song includes the line "You can ask any Tom, Dick, or Stanley/ And they'd tell you whose team they'd prefer to be on!" So, Even the Guys Want Him?
    • "And every last inch of me's covered in hair!"
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Some people have argued that the Beast's story is a metaphor for the AIDS crisis of the gay community in the 1980's, when the movie was made (there's even Reality Subtext here, as composer Howard Ashman died of AIDS just before the film was released). The argument goes as follows: the Beast is hit with a debilitating curse that strips him of his humanity; he's forced to live in complete isolation, hating the world that he was once a part of; the villagers, upon hearing about the Beast, give into threats that he'll harm their children and generally express their hatred of anything unlike themselves ("we don't like what we don't understand, in fact it scares us, and this monster is mysterious at least..."), with the (straight) men of the town deciding to brutally attack and kill the "different" person; and they're led by an extremely macho villain who is wholly motivated by his heterosexuality and spreads baseless lies about the Beast for his own gain. This is even more apparent in the Broadway version, where it's made clear that the enchantress's spell works like an illness that gradually makes the Beast grow worse.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In a departure from the original story in which the Beast was kind and gentlemanly (if very rarely hot-tempered), the Disney character starts off angry and depressed and has all the classic trappings of the villain.
      • In another the Beast is very much the main character of the story since he has the most Character Development. Previous versions almost always focus more on the Beauty character.
    • Commentary from the filmmakers has fueled theories that the Beast is near-suicidal for much of the film and his rescued of Belle from the wolves as also an attempt to kill himself while doing something meaningful.
    • Fans are divided between thinking the enchantress was a Well-Intentioned Extremist, a benevolent fairy, or a raging bitch who cursed an innocent child and entire castle for a relatively petty offense.
    • Belle: Is she a well-meaning bookworm unfairly made an outcast by the villagers or is she actually a snob, and therefore deserving of being ostracised by the village?
      • Then there are those who think Belle might be a beauty on the outside but ugly on the inside. For example, she breaks the one rule the Beast set up for her and invades his privacy. Then she calls off their agreement and runs away.
      • In the Lilo & Stitch's trailer she is even portrayed as a very bratty and snobby shrew, almost at Alpha Bitch's levels. Obviously, all this is Played for Laughs, but still... Although even in that trailer, one could argue that she was just pissed off at, y'know, almost getting crushed by a freaking chandelier.
      • Is her falling in love with The Beast genuine or the result of serious Stockholm Syndrome towards an abusive captor? Trying to puzzle this out has led to many an Edit War on the Family-Unfriendly Aesop page.
    • Cogsworth: Is he the cliché frumpy disciplinarian present in the Disney movies like Zazu and Lawrence or is his personality based more of a child under an abusive parent, who's in fear of angering the parent and has to stop others from pissing them off in fear of what happens?
    • The song Be Our Guest. Do the servants want to make Belle feel welcomed in the castle and be kind to her, or are they only being extremely courteous to her at dinner because she is able to change them back into humans?
    • The Villagers. Are they misguided people who are genuinely afraid that the Beast might harm their children? Or are they true monsters of this film, since they're the ones who put Gaston on a pedestal and back his more devious plans? The fact that they willingly supported Gaston's plan to blackmail Belle into marrying him, despite his revealing enough of it to know how horrific of a plan it is, with absolutely no sign of fear, strongly supports that theory.
    • Then there's Gaston. Is he a complete jerk? Is he actually a fun guy with a zest for life who thinks that Belle has been driven mad, because she seems to think that this monster is a nice guy? Is it him who winds up going mad after Belle rejects him and humiliates him in front of the entire town? It's worth noting that he was originally supposed to die by falling off a cliff and laughing hysterically, indicating that he had indeed been driven mad in his desperate effort to impress Belle.
  • Award Snub: Nominated for Best Picture, but ultimately lost. It didn't help that many critics and fans claimed it deserved a nomination... until it actually was nominated. Then came hundreds of jokes about how embarrassing it would be if "real" movies lost the award to a cartoon.
  • Awesome Ego: Gaston was written to seem incredibly egotistical and self-absorbed. The viewers loved this.
  • Awesome Music: "Beauty and the Beast". The judges of the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and AFI agreed - the former two gave it "Best Song of 1991" awards, while the latter gave it the #62 spot on its "Songs" list.
    • Also the pop version
      • Angela Lansbury, the voice of Mrs. Potts, said in an interview that the song was originally faster and more pop-like, and she was the one who turned it into more of a slow ballad. She was at first reluctant to take the part because the song was, as she says, "not her cup of tea." (No, really, she said that.)
    • No Disney song has ever topped "Belle".
    • Gaston's Villain Song became a meme.
    • "Something There", though not as famous as the others on this list, is what a song in a musical is supposed to do; it encapsulated a massive leap in character development that would have been incredibly awkward no matter what dialogue you tried to use.
    • No love for the Transformation?
    • Three words: BE OUR GUEST!!!
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Gaston has a large rather large fanbase who are willing to overlook the fact that he is a misogynistic, arrogant, murderous Yandere, some to the point that they think Belle is either crazy for rejecting him, or a stupid bitch that he didn't deserve anyway.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Lumiere.
    • Lefou and the Wardrobe are very minor characters, but they're so much fun that almost everyone remembers them.
    • Babette, the feather duster, is also a fun character and gets a much larger role in the stage version. In almost any production, about half of the girls whom you'd think would be auditioning for Belle actually want to be Babette.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Gaston. He's devilishly handsome and everyone knows it, but he has no inner goods....
  • Fountain of Memes: Gaston. In YouTube Poop he seems to occupy some sort of strange middle ground between Butt Monkey and Memetic Badass...
  • Fridge Horror: If the curse was made 10 years ago then it means the Prince was around 11 years old when he became the Beast. What's with this treatment to kids, Disney?
    • Granted, it becomes less horrifying and a lot more fun if you just imagine he was like Joffery at that age.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Elisa and Goliath of Gargoyles once spent Halloween as Belle and the Beast. Gargoyles' equivalent of kissing is stroking their lover's hair. Think of this during the 3 times when the Beast runs his fingers through Belle's hair.
    • The film makes a very good Take That to series where the female character falls in love with the male character mostly for his looks (i.e. Twilight, years before it ever existed).
    • About the part of the castle where the rose is located. It's The West Wing. Really. Repeated mentions of the West Wing being forbidden just add to this.
    • In-Universe: Gaston singing about every last inch of him being covered in hair...Belle ends up getting with a guy who's even hairer. Or was.
  • Ho Yay: LeFou is slavishly devoted to Gaston; some people also read a bit of subtext into Lumière's interaction with Cogsworth (they certainly do have a bit of Tsundere-esque bickering going on).
  • Hype Backlash: This movie's status as the only traditionally animated feature to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination has led some people to call it Disney's most overrated film.
  • Love to Hate: Gaston.
    • In other mediums too—throughout the show's Broadway run, whenever the actor playing him came out for the curtain call, he was heartily booed by the audience, much to the man's amusement/enjoyment.
  • Magnum Opus: Considered a contender for this in the Disney Animated Canon. It was certainly Howard Ashman's.
  • Memetic Badass/Memetic Mutation: No one sings a Villain Song like Gaston! Made up by his In-Universe fanboys, no less. It's also lampshaded in the reprise in the musical.
    No one thinks up these endless refrains like Gaston!
    NOBODY ORDERS DECAF LIKE GASTON!
    • "Be our guest! Be our guest! Be our guest!"
    • "GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!"
    • "It's FORBIDDEN!"
    • Videos that remix the scene where LeFou says "I'll strike up the band!" for Gaston's wedding to make the band play different songs are quite popular.
    • "How can you read this? There's no pictures!"
    • One scene in particular from a Youtube Poop has become very popular: WHOAAA, slow down, Maurice!
    • "More beer?" "What for? Nothing helps."
  • Memetic Molester: While not as well known as his Memetic Badass image, Gaston becomes this whenever Belle's involved.
  • Memetic Sex God: Everyone in the village wants to get with Gaston. Except for Belle of course.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Gaston. Basically, it's Evil Is Cool (of the Memetic Badass variety) meets Draco in Leather Pants.
    • The beast himself is meant to be a horrifying monster, but once the audience gets used to his appearance, most consider him to have a fascinating design and prefer it to his human form.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Gaston starts out as pretty harmless. An arrogant jackass, but harmless. Then he plots to throw Maurice in the loony bin unless Belle agrees to marry him and plots to kill the Beast because Belle prefers Beast over him, but it's when he stabs Beast in the back after Beast spared his life that you know he's beyond redemption.
    • At least in the original script, the specific reason why he even decided to do something reckless as this was because he intended to kill himself immediately afterwards specifically by jumping off. Yea, he was a lot crazier in initial planning.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In the Broadway production, the servants weren't straightforwardly turned into wacky talking objects. They're cursed to live as hybrid-object-human things that are slowly turning into normal inanimate objects. One wonders whether they'd still be conscious when they've fully transformed or just dead - either is pretty disturbing. Cogsworth and Lumière (themselves transforming into a clock and a candelabrum respectively) even joke about one man who has turned into a brick wall. Of course, it's really a concession to the fact that the parts have to be played by people - so the scene explains why the clock, candlestick, teapot and others are still "human sized", but it still makes for excellent Nightmare Fuel.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Monsieur D'Arque (the guy who runs the insane asylum). His voice actor, Tony Jay, did so well with the small-but-villianous role, that Disney decided to give him a much bigger role as the primary antagonist in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Some of the videogames that are licensed from the Disney movie came off as Nintendo Hard, most notably the 1994 NES version and the 1993 Sega Genesis version called Beauty & the Beast: Roar of the Beast.
  • Purity Sue: Belle. She's more of a role model than a character. This may or may not be a good thing.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Belle. The Beast also gets this.
  • Signature Song: "Beauty and the Beast" and "Be Our Guest."
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: This movie puts the inner beauty message right up front.
  • What an Idiot: So you're being held prisoner by a giant monster with serious temper problems who is starving you because you wouldn't eat dinner with him. So what do you do? You go into the one place in the castle he specifically told you was forbidden.
    • Also, Belle having to use the mirror to expose the Beast's existence, of all things, to keep her father from going to the Asylum. Honestly, Belle, did you honestly expect Gaston or the rest of the villagers, who were congregated into a lynch mob at the time, to even think that the Beast was friendly, and not try to kill him?
  • The Woobie:
    • The Beast becomes this right around "Something There". Prior to that, he was a Jerkass Woobie.

French Film
  • Unnecessary Makeover: Many viewers were disappointed with the fascinating Beast's transformation into a generic prince, with Greta Garbo famously saying "Give me back my Beast!" as she left the theater. According to Cocteau, this was intentional.

TV Series
  • Awesome Music: Sumptuous work by Lee Holdridge and Don Davis (nominated for five Emmys, and won three of them).
  • Seasonal Rot: Season Three, in which Catherine dies, is deeply unpopular with a lot of the fanbase.

Other
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: This story has long been interpreted by feminists as an object lesson meant to teach young girls the virtues of accepting an arranged marriage with a strange and scary older man (whose wealth would benefit the girl's family). But it could also just as easily be a fantasy aimed at wealthy and socially awkward men who fear that their wives will only love them for their money and position, not themselves. It's clear that Beauty's sisters only care for their own selfish whims, while Beauty herself is kind and dutiful, and willing to sacrifice her own life and freedom to save her father. Beauty is also willing to overlook the Beast's appearance and love him for his personality, not his resources. The Beast's transformation into a handsome form at the end could symbolize the return of his self-confidence once he managed to wisely pursue and earn the love of a high-value woman.
  • Ending Fatigue: Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve's version goes on for pages and pages after the curse is broken.
  • Values Dissonance: In many versions the prince is cursed because he refused to give hospitality. Given that refusing people shelter in bad weather could be a Matter of Life and Death — it's not as if they could hop in their car and drive to a hotel — it was taken very seriously, so the curse definitely would not have been seen as Disproportionate Retribution.

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