Tag Archives: Disney

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

60 Second Review

There are two kinds of movies. Movies that exist in the present, that you can consider and weigh and appraise impartially, and movies from your childhood; movies that have been a part of you since as far back as you can remember. Beauty and the Beast is squarely with the latter, insomuch as I don’t feel confident I can even have an objective response to it. This isn’t exclusively because I grew up with it, though that plays a huge role. Nearly as important is Disney’s masterful wielding of nostalgia. All of their films, even the ones you’re seeing for the first time, contain that magical schmaltz of childhood. Though every so often you get the feeling you’re being just a little bit manipulated, it’s easy enough to just go with it.

Beauty and the Beast really is a lovely little film, in spite of it’s tonally guiding hand. The music is as strong as any of Disney’s best films of that era, and the animation represents their highest tier work. Likewise the breakdown of characters is as solid a collection as any, with a hero and a villain and a beautiful princess who is, in fact, not a princess. If there’s a negative aspect to the film that has made itself more evident since childhood, it’s got to be the one-dimensionality of the characters. As with many Disney films, the secondary characters tend to have more personality then the primaries, and the starker the contrast between those two groups, the harder it is to ignore. Belle is boringly refined and and the Beast is more of an overgrown child then anything; certainly effective character types, but they don’t seem to grow in any other way than towards each other.

Nonetheless this is a fine entry into the Disney canon, and a more than vital contribution to their utter dominance of the nineties.

Toy Story (1995)

It’s ironic how entirely nostalgic it is viewing Toy Story for the first time in a decade.  Though I suppose that nostalgia shouldn’t surprise me, as nearly any Disney title awakens vivid memories of childhood and the wonder of animated cinema.  Obviously the world of Disney pre-Pixar is iconic, particularly for those of us lucky enough to grow up during their late 80s/early 90s renaissance.  My particular favorite was Aladdin, but I’ve never been picky, and would gladly sit through a viewing of The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. Heck, I’d even watch Pocahontas. Still, while Disney’s astounding talent for inserting themselves into childhood is something I’m grateful for, it’s only part of what makes my adult viewing of Toy Story ironic.  The more relevant aspect of that irony is the reality that Toy Story is a movie about nostalgia.  Or at the very least it’s a movie that recognizes the heft of it.  Memories of childhood are either beautiful or awful, and rarely of the mundane; what trauma or drama is there in the tedium of childhood?  Though we catch only glimpses of the story from adolescent Andy’s perspective, the one requirement for enjoying this film is to have been that age, and to have loved those toys.  Perhaps one of Disney’s, Pixar’s and director John Lasseter‘s most charming notions is imagining that those toys could love you back.

Continue reading