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."
    • 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!" — assuming it's not fully intentional!
    • When the Wardrobe opens her doors and is embarrassed to see moths fly out, the scene can instead make it seem like she accidentally flashed Belle due to the placement of the doors and her face being on top. Perhaps intentionally, the 2017 version averts this by placing her face inside the cabinet and letting the moths fly out of a drawer instead.
  • Adaptation Displacement: This Disney film has become the defining version of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale, even more so than the 1946 French film that it took some of its cues from. Its characterizations of Belle as an intelligent, strong-willed bookworm instead of the blander Beauty from the original tale and the Beast as having been cursed for his selfishness and needing to learn how to become kinder over the course of the story instead of a generally decent man who merely ran afoul of an evil fairy, in particular, have influenced virtually all later adaptations.
  • 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.note 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Perhaps the biggest one, in that it even inspired a lot of debate and even fights behind the scenes, is the question: Who is the actual protagonist? Belle is certainly the viewpoint character, and most of the story is told from her perspective, but the character who develops and changes the most as a person, and whose actions drive most of the plot, is the Beast. Lyricist Howard Ashman in particular was convinced of this, and modern critics are more and more inclined to agree.
    • 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.
    • Commentary from the filmmakers has fueled theories that the Beast is near-suicidal for much of the film and his rescue of Belle from the wolves was 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 particularly cruel member of The Fair Folk who cursed an innocent child and entire castle for a relatively petty offense (though breaking or denying Sacred Hospitality was a serious offense in old times). Some people even view her as the true Big Bad.
    • Belle:
      • Is she a well-meaning bookworm unfairly made an outcast by the villagers, or is she actually a snob deserving of being ostracised? She certainly wants a more exciting life than what she finds in "this poor provincial town", but at the same time the villagers turn out to be much nastier than they appear...and have no problem with holding up Gaston as a hero and supporting anything he does, including continuing to pursue her even though she's not interested. It doesn't help that the stage musical makes the "snob" interpretation more valid: The additional song "No Matter What" has Maurice actually telling her "They [the villagers] are the common herd/Take my word" — which also makes him look bad.
      • Alternately, is Belle experiencing a similar character arc to the Beast's, rather than remaining as static as she seems? She's the one person from a wealthy and educated family in a blue-collar town, and she's openly contemptuous of her social inferiors (who would be one step up from serfs in context, while she and her father would be petty nobility). The books she carts around alone are worth enough money to buy half of the village outright, and her father has access to machined gears while everyone else lives in basically the dirt. So does meeting the castle slaves, who are actual serfs, and being won over by them represent an actual character arc, the out-of-touch noblewoman realizing the value of commoners and learning not to be such a jerk to people outside her immediate peers? Is the Belle who is willing to give marrying a literal animal a try the same girl who previously dismissed everyone who couldn't read (a skill quite literally solely possessed by the idle rich and the clergy) as trash?
    • 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? (Notably, the original plan was for the characters to sing this to Maurice, which would fall under the former interpretation, but the filmmakers felt it was better to use such a big number in the service of one of the leads.)
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Another interpretation: Gaston is a man too caught up in being the "ideal man" in his community that he cannot express himself outside of macho stereotypes. It should be noted that while it has the trappings of wanting what you are denied, the audience doesn't really get to see the village itself and the only other women we see are swooning and passive with Gaston. Maybe deep down, he wants the woman who is different because she will actually display a personality despite what tradition says. Unfortunately as a product of the society, Gaston regurgitates these ideals (women shouldn't read & think) because it is what his culture tells him is proper. The fact that Belle is brave enough to buck these traditions despite the pressure of their culture may be what truly appeals to Gaston deep down, as a man so thoroughly trapped by the masculine ideal. Listen to his boastful song, that is either an extremely arrogant man who is supported in his arrogance by his peers, or a deeply insecure man whose life's purpose is "to be the best" and any deviation from that would render him worthless. Ultimately, his unwillingness/inability to change/escape his such trappings, and his twisted approach to courting/acquiring what he desires (Belle) is what leads to his downfall. Not blaming the village itself, as the village showed deep adoration for Gaston, they may have changed too once he was brave enough. However, Gaston had a choice of how he interacted with Belle and he chose poorly many times. As pointed out elsewhere, in a WMG, Beast and Gaston could easily have turned out like each other if a few details were changed.
    • Jerk or not, it's a common interpretation that Gaston's response to Belle's situation is much more reasonable than the film treats it. He ignores the town's resident crazy at first, but when he realizes that Belle is actually missing, and that both she and her father were kidnapped by a murderous magical beast... well, he's the town's hunter, taking care of dangerous animals is quite literally his job and from his perspective he isn't forming a mob to attack a misunderstood magical loner, he's rallying the townspeople to rescue an unpopular girl in danger. Magic is essentially an Outside-Context Problem that he would have no idea how to deal with.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: By most metrics an aversion, with it being a critical darling and respected film to this day on par with many live-action musicals. However, this trope may have cost the film Best Picture back in the day.
  • Anvilicious: "True beauty lies within."
  • Ascended Meme: Walt Disney World guests can "try the grey stuff" for themselves; it is as delicious as Lumiere claims.
  • Award Snub:
  • Awesome Ego: Gaston was written to seem incredibly egotistical and self-absorbed. The viewers loved this.
  • Awesome Music:
    • "Beauty and the Beast".
    • No Disney song has ever topped "Belle", which was nominated for Best Song, losing only to the title track.
    • 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.
    • "Be Our Guest," a rousing feast - beautifully animated - of a song also nominated for Best Song.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The four-legged, spidery box thingy that takes Maurice back to the village, which is never seen again. Which given how this version's curse works probably used to be a carriage horse.
  • Broken Base: One ensued over the 2010 restoration, used on all 2D home video releases since the Diamond Edition Blu-Ray and DVD. On the plus side, the movie looks more detailed than on past formats, and doesn't look as excessively bright as the 2002 restoration (for the IMAX re-release and the Platinum Edition DVD and VHS) did. On the negative side, fans who want the picture to perfectly match the original theatrical prints feel disappointed that the colors look redder.
  • Counterpart Comparison:
    • Belle and the Beast are often compared to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice since they share a similar dynamic; both Belle and Lizzy are intelligent, spirited, and independent women that don't take crap from their respective future love interests. Both the Beast and Mr. Darcy start off as jerks with hidden soft sides and after getting blown off by their love interests, they both end up changing themselves for the better.
    • Some have compared Gaston to Robert Baratheon. Both are large, handsome and muscular men with black hair and blue eyes who enjoy hunting, with the ladies swooning over them. Robert's sigil is a stag, and Gaston uses antlers in all his decorating, including a chair. They are both charismatic as well, able to get people to help them achieve their goals with a few words. And they're yearning for a beautiful woman who rejects them for someone else because they know they don't really love them (Belle with the Beast, and it's implied with Lyanna and Rhaegar), something they didn't take well. However, Robert actually did love Lyanna, but didn't truely get to know the real her, while Gaston viewed Belle as a trophy wife at best.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Gaston has a large fanbase who are willing to overlook the fact that he is a misogynistic, arrogant, murderous jealous man. Some of his fans even think Belle is either crazy for rejecting him, or a stupid bitch that he didn't deserve anyway. Also many say that Gaston is a saint compared to the Beast (who in turn gets the Ron the Death Eater treatment), even overlooking the whole forcing Belle's father to be committed to an insane asylum thing.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Lumiere is pretty popular, mainly thanks to his charming personality and performance of "Be Our Guest".
    • LeFou and the Wardrobe are very minor characters, but they're so much fun that almost everyone remembers them.
    • Fifi the feather duster (or Babette as she's called in the stage version) 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.
    • Monsieur D'Arque. He's only in the film briefly, but Tony Jay gives such a memorable performance that it's easy to remember him. Disney certainly did, and he was recruited to voice Frollo 5 years later in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Gaston. He's devilishly handsome and everyone knows it, but he has no inner good...
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Particularly with how cruel and violent the Beast acts in the Disney version, critics have pointed out that the story could be read as teaching "If you stick with an abusive relationship it will eventually all turn out for the best." Although it should be noted that Belle doesn't actually start warming up to the Beast until after he starts treating her more civilly, and up until that point doesn't really take his guff. The sticking point for this particular theory being that she takes him back to the castle and nurses his wounds after he saves her life. Is she being a good person and helping someone who might have died otherwise, or is the taking a stupid gamble and willingly going back to what could remain an abusive situation?
  • Fandom Rivalry: Belle vs Ariel given that they are the first two 'modern' Disney Princesses. Arguments would frequently hold Belle up as a better attempt at a feminist princess than Ariel. But as time has gone on, arguments have gone the other way - criticizing Belle for seeming unrealistically perfect, and Ariel's fans saying that she's flawed but still a good character. If an argument about whether Ariel is feminist or not starts, expect her to be compared to Belle in some way.
  • Fountain of Memes: Gaston. In YouTube Poop he seems to occupy some sort of strange middle ground between Butt-Monkey and Memetic Badass.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Gaston tosses away Belle's book and tells her that it isn't right for women to read or even think. When Belle finishes reading a book to Beast, he immediately asks her to read it again.
  • 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.
    • About the part of the castle where the rose is located. It's The West Wing. Repeated mentions of the West Wing being forbidden add to this.
    • In the scene where Belle takes Maurice back to the cottage in the glen after saving him, Lefou is waiting for them outside disguised as a snowman. With the announcement of the casting for Lefou in the live-action remake, that snowman gag may start to seem a bit familiar considering who's playing him...
    • Gaston's general character design makes him look like a more cartoonish Clark Kent.
    • The Beast is ManBearPig, people! I'M SUPER-DUPER CEREAL!
      • More on that, but notice how prominent Gaston's chin is. BallChin-Boy anyone?
    • With Doctor Who coming back in 2005, the Beast may seem like a Timelord to new Whovians who grew up with the movie. A clip of the 10th Doctor regenerating into his successor incarnation compared to this clip of The Beast's transformation back to his human self at the end of the move says it all & becomes all the more hilarious since this seems to be the default way regenerations happen since the show came back. Also, The Beast's title is reminiscent of The Doctor's since it's not his real name & they change appearances at points. Time will tell if the 2017 live action movie will follow suit. Then we'll have another case of this outside of this website. Not that some fans didn't notice this already.
    • In Gaston's Villain Song, LeFou sings, "You can ask any Tom, Dick, or Stanley / And they'll tell you whose team they'd prefer to be on!" A bit of a surprise now that LeFou himself is confirmed to be gay in the upcoming 2017 musical.
    • The fact that after you watch the movie through for the first time and see for yourself that the large, intimidating, baritone-speaking Beast is really just an early twenty-something year old instead of some primordial monster that an unsuspecting bystander like Belle would assume him to be, you can't watch the movie over again without looking at the all of Beast's behavior and identity as just being a spoiled but naively immature teenager just trying to get a cute girl to like him. It can almost have a high school sitcom tone to it when you watch again.
  • Ho Yay: LeFou is slavishly devoted to Gaston (hence, the Word of Gay in the aforementioned Hilarious in Hindsight above); 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.
  • Memetic Badass: No one fights like Gaston! No one bites like Gaston!
  • Memetic Molester: While not as well known as his Memetic Badass image, Gaston becomes this whenever Belle's involved. No one rapes like Gaston!
  • Memetic Mutation: No one sings a Villain Song like Gaston! It's made up by his In-Universe fanboys, no less. It's also lampshaded in both the reprise in the musical and the 2017 version.
    No one thinks up these endless refrains like Gaston!
    NO ONE ORDERS DECAF LIKE GASTON!
    • "Be our guest! Be our guest! Be our guest!"
    • "Try the grey stuff, it's delicious!"Explanation 
    • "GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!"
    • "It's FORBIDDEN!"
    • The scene where Gaston flips through and holds up Belle's book has become a popular "What am I reading?" meme.
    • 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 from "Gaston's Ultimate Mission to Obtain Some Taco Bell", which was granted a resurgence in popularity during 2017, became very popular thanks to a post on Tumblr: "WHOAAA, slow down, Maurice!"
    • "More beer?" "What for? Nothing helps."
    • Beast pointing angrily at the door after his politer attempts to get Belle to come downstairs fail. Often captioned with variations on "this bitch". Humorously enough, it had memetic status amongst the animators as "the Jackie Gleason face."
  • 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 (this could be considered the MEH for Gaston, since this example of the trope has a Villain Song dedicated to it), but it's when he stabs Beast in the back after Beast spared his life that you know he's beyond redemption.
  • 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.
    • The Broadway version of Gaston can also be jarring for those only familiar with the animated film. He's almost the same character with the same lines, until the scene in which the mob comes to take Belle's father away. When Belle asks him to stop and he says he'll only help her if she marries him, not only does Gaston force a kiss on her, but when she slaps him in retaliation, he almost punches her. Very frightening and not very Disney-esque.
  • 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-villainous 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.
    • Distaff Counterpart: The Genesis has one with Beauty & the Beast: Belle's Quest, following Belle's role in the story.
    • A Super Nintendo version was released, acting closer to the source material, but still acting similar to Roar of the Beast.
    • No Problem with Licensed Games: A DOS version was released by Infogrames called Beauty & the Beast: Be Our Guest which serves as a compilation of minigames featuring the Enchanted Objects working together to prepare the ball. The game was remade with new minigames as Beauty & the Beast: Belle's Magical Ballroom this time adding Belle into the mix. Copies of the remake were packaged with the Special Edition DVD.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Robby Benson, a year after this movie was released, would lend his voice to Universal's Exosquad, as Lt. J.T. Marsh.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Belle of all people, with some viewing her as proud or condescending, citing the line "little town full of little people" and her treatment of Gaston.
    • The Beast also gets this, some circles painting him as a domestic abuser, and claiming that Belle only fell in love with him because of Stockholm Syndrome.
  • Rooting for the Empire: While it certainly wasn't always this way, Gaston, despite lacking any redeeming qualities, has gotten quite popular over the years, arguably more so than either of the protagonists. This is probably due to viewers finding his ego oddly charming than obnoxious (as intended), his ridiculously exaggerated but still catchy and lively song, and for being a straight up Large Ham.
  • Signature Song: "Beauty and the Beast" and "Be Our Guest", which are also the most well-known tunes in the film.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The Prologue/curse Leitmotif is based on "Aquarium" from Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals. The actual inclusion of "Aquarium" in the Good Times Fairy Tales version of the fairy tale that came out a year later just made it crazier.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The 2002 Remastered IMAX version received this criticism, for contrast boosting that made the atmosphere and shadows look less gloomy and forebooding. The 2010 and 2011 restorations turned the contrast back down, though at least one of them still doesn't make the picture look exactly as dark as in 1991.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Belle's father Maurice has been thrown out of the castle after Belle agrees to swap places with him. Now he wants to go back into the castle and save her at all costs, even when nobody else agreed to help him. That alone is both an awesome and heartwarming moment at the same time. The problem is how little focus there was on it. Yeah, this is supposed to set up for a reason for the Beast to release Belle of his own volition, but still, a caring father was willing to go through hell to save his daughter. Who wouldn't want to see that?
  • Unnecessary Makeover: There are a lot of viewers who preferred the Beast's dark and gloomy castle.
  • What an Idiot:
    • So, Belle, 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... and then you uncover and try to touch a glowing, floating rose.
    • 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. Really, 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? Though in fairness, that was a more of a knee-jerk reaction than anything.
  • The Woobie:
    • The Beast becomes this right around "Something There". Prior to that, he was a Jerkass Woobie.
    • Maurice being a Bungling Inventor is played for comedy, but it's implied that the whole town thinks he's a fool and Belle might be his only companion. Once she goes to the castle with the Beast, he's completely alone and desperate to save his daughter, but nobody helps him, and he eventually gets lost and sick in a blizzard trying to find her by himself.

Other
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: This story has long been interpreted by some 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.
  • It Was His Sled: The fact that the Beast is really an enchanted Prince is a surprise at the end of the original story. Most every adaptation tells the audience right at the start, though it's usually still a surprise for Beauty/Belle.
  • 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.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/BeautyAndTheBeast