Despite some excessive narrative streamlining, this 1991 release was Disney's best animated feature in years, full of charm and humor. It seems to have benefited from the influence of Pee-wee's Playhouse, with anthropomorphized household objects managing the Beast's castle like enlightened domestics, as well as the filmmakers' fond memories of Busby Berkeley numbers and the torch-wielding villagers in Frankenstein. But the most fascinating buried textual references are to another Disney picture, Pretty Woman, which this trashes in agreeable ways: both the heroine, Belle, and the handsome-prince version of the Beast seem modeled after Julia Roberts, while the insufferably vain and boorish Gaston, who hopes to convert Belle into a kept woman, is a dead ringer for Richard Gere. Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, and featuring the voices of Robby Benson, Paige O'Hara, Richard White, Angela Lansbury, and Jerry Orbach.
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