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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 12/18/01

Beauty and the Beast:
The Enchanted Christmas

1997 (1998) - Walt Disney (Buena Vista)

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/A-/F

Specs and Features

71 mins, NR, full-frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (17 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1), Closed Captioned

With the success of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, you'd think a sequel was inevitable. After all, when was the last time The Mouse turned down an opportunity for a shameless cash-in? The problem here is that there's no really legitimate way to make a follow-up to the story. I really don't think I'm giving anything away by telling you that the Beast turns into a foxy prince at the end of the original film. Storywise, it would seem there's nowhere to take the Beauty and the Best fable without the Beast. Ah, but there is! That Belle babe was locked up in the dusty castle for sometime, so she had to have at least one Christmas with her depilatory-challenged friend. This is the basis of Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.

Most of the main voice talent is back for this direct-to-video release, including Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, Paige O'Hara as Belle, Robbie Benson as the Beast and Jerry Orbach as Lumiere. They're all as charming in this one as they were in the first film. But at times, the story does feel like it's been through the Disney mass-production animation plant. There are a few obligatory "heartwarming" songs, the dishes are still talking back and Beauty will tame the Beast by the end of the story. Neither the songs nor the animation are on par with Disney's Academy Award-nominated predecessor, but the animation is still far better than most home video animation. On the whole though, it's a satisfying little film and kids will more than likely be entertained long enough to sit through its short running time. It has a nice holiday feel to it and is charming without being obnoxious or overbearing. It doesn't come near the classic quality of the original, but it's definitely worth a viewing if you need another fix of Belle and her Beast.

As one of Disney's very first DVD releases, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas fails to impress, but it surely doesn't disappoint. The full frame transfer (it's original aspect ratio) is a bit grainy at times with some flashy borders. That's the bad part. On the other hand, the colors are all deep and bold and represent the direct-to-video feel of the film well. It could have been better, but again, keep in mind that this was the first Disney animation ever to appear on DVD back in the Golden Age of the format. The soundtrack is more impressive, with a very playful mix. It's available in both French and English Dolby Digital 5.1, and both are mastered quite well. There's lots of music and it sounds wonderful.

If you take into consideration that this is a direct-to-video disc, and that it lacks any extras, the $30 price tag seems very steep. There are no trailers for this film or any other Disney home video fare. It's the same story on a different disc - I'm fine with a featureless DVD as long as the price reflects that lack of features. This is simply too much to charge for a film this short with no added bonus features.

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is a decent story, but I'd say this DVD is worth a rental at best. The transfer is old school and its overblown price is too much to ask, especially of families trying to stretch dollars around the holidays. I enjoyed it, and I'm sure other kids (young or otherwise) would be entertained too. But it's your call. If you want to, "be our guest" and see if you're more enchanted than me.

Dan Kelly
[email protected]

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