Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (Special Edition)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Starring:
Paige O'Hara as Belle (voice)
Robby Benson as Beast (voice)
Jerry Orbach as Lumiere (voice)
David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth (voice)
Bernadette Peters as Angelique (voice)
Tim Curry as Forte (voice)
Haley Joel Osment as Chip (speaking) (voice)
Jeff Bennett as Axe/Poke (voice)
Kath Soucie as Enchantress (voice)
Paul Reubens as Fife (voice)
Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts (voice)

Special Features:
Music Video - "As Long As There's Christmas" by PLAY
Behind the Scenes Featurette
"Forte's Challenge" Game
Enchanted Environment - Bring the castle's fireplace to your home
Disney's Song Selection
Sing Along

Other Info:
English, French, and Spanish Languages
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Running Time: 72 Mins.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound

Synopsis:
The staff of the Enchanted Castle, now human again, reminisces on Christmas Eve about their last holiday the year before. While still household objects, they had to deal with a crisis unseen in the film. Shortly after the Beast rescued Belle from the wolves in the movie, the two started to become friends. For the first time Beast begins to open up to Belle and there's hope that the curse of the Enchantress will be lifted. However, one transformed staff member isn't so eager to go back to his old life as a human. Forte, who is now the castle pipe organ, enjoys being the Beast's confidant and advisor. He also enjoys composing music for his master. He hopes to prevent the Beast from falling in love with Belle. With the help of the piccolo Fife, Forte plans to end the blossoming romance.

In order to cheer up the Beast and the castle servants, Belle starts putting together a traditional Christmas celebration. However, thanks to Forte's scheming, the Beast goes into a frenzy and cancels all the holiday celebrations. After all, Christmas was the day he was turned into the Beast. Why should they celebrate? The romance certainly seems to be at an endů..or is it?

"Beauty and the Beast - The Enchanted Christmas: Special Edition" is rated G.

The Movie:
Disney sequels that go straight to video traditionally suck. While this film can't possibly live up to the reputation of its predecessor, it still does a surprisingly good job. The animation is not feature film quality, but it's better than a lot that I see on TV. As seen in the behind the scenes featurette, there's a surprising amount of attention paid to the details. The addition of the new Forte character also utilizes some early CG animation that looks pretty cool. It blends in well with the traditional hand drawn animation. The music is where the difference in quality between the movie and video becomes especially apparent, but the new song "Stories" will stick in your head a short while after hearing it.

Forte leads off a cast of several new characters in the Beauty and the Beast storyline. Voiced by Tim Curry, he is sufficiently diabolical and a worthy bad guy. Bernadette Peters lends her impressive singing voice as Angelique, the Christmas tree angel decoration. Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) and Hayley Joel Osment also deliver performances that are fine, yet not nearly as recognizable as the other voice talents. In a nice move, Disney was also able to get all of the original voices back for the sequel. That goes a long way towards legitimizing the film among Beauty and the Beast fans and people who frown on Disney animated sequels (such as myself).

This movie doesn't just feed off the hype of the original film. It also expands on the story. In Enchanted Christmas, we see the Beast's actual transformation and first encounter with the Enchantress. It's a pretty cool scene. We also see a bit more of the original characters in their human form. We only got brief glimpses of them before. We see a little more of Belle and the Prince after the end of the original movie, too. If you were a fan of the theatrical film, then this is a must see for you. You won't know the whole story until you see this.

My only gripe is that one of the songs was a little surprising. Forte sings a tune that throws out the word "hell". No biggie, but not something you necessarily want your 3 yr old repeating. The same song also has some sexual innuendo that I was not expecting in a Disney sugar coated kiddie flick. Parents may want to be aware of that.

The Extras:
For a straight to video movie, this actually does have a good selection of extras. The Behind-The-Scenes featurette is interesting and informative though short. Most of the voice talent is interviewed (with the exception of Reubens and Osment). The animators are interviewed as well and the animation process is shown. We get in-depth looks at the music, computer effects, background art, and more. Overall, it's a surprisingly thorough feature.

"Forte's Challenge" is, believe it or not, a bit challenging. It takes a little while to get a hang of the game, and you may find yourself dead before solving the puzzle. The object of the game is to play the notes written on the sheet music on the organ keyboard. Of course, the tunes are all Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells". As you make good or bad selections, Forte (in Tim Curry's voice) comments on how you are doing. It ends up being somewhat educational for kids, too.

Other features include a music video with the generic teen group PLAY (whom I'd never heard of). They sound good enough and they look like real teens you'd see at the mall rather than teen girls dressed as pop goddess sluts. (Whether or not that's a positive or negative, I'll leave to you.)

The Enchanted Environment is nothing more than an animated fireplace that plays repeatedly with Christmas music in the background. As goofy as this is, it might be a fun thing to pop on the TV screen on X-Mas morning. The music on a home theater system sounds pretty good. Different sound selections allow you to turn the crackling sound of the fire on and off, too.

Finally, the "Disney's Song Selection" allows you to skip directly to the musical numbers in the film. There's also an option to have the words appear on the screen for a sing along. All in all, this is a good DVD for the kids.

The Bottom Line:
This DVD is a pretty nice presentation that's an entertaining holiday treat for kids and Beauty and the Beast fans.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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