Disney and a Beer: Beauty and the Beast

The Beer
Palmetto Pale Ale – This is an American pale ale that I picked up in Charleston, South Carolina. The first time I tried it, I wasn’t a huge fan but I think it was the food I paired it with because very time I have drunk it after that, I have liked it more and more. It’s pretty strong on the hops but there is a little bit of orange taste to balance it out. Verdict: Enjoyed it.

The Movie

Beauty and the Beast movie posterSynopsis
Belle (Paige O’Hara (voice)) takes her father’s place as the prisoner for the Beast (Robby Benson (voice)). The Beast hopes to win Belle’s heart and break the spell that has been placed on him, his castle, and its inhabitants.

Review
I have expressed numerous times my love for the Disney Renaissance films. When I was younger, I had Beauty and the Beast on VHS but I did not watch it nearly as much as I did some of the other films from the era, like Aladdin or The Lion King. I think that was because it is a “princess” movie and I was more interested in movies with male main characters. In any case, over the years as I have watched it, I have grown to appreciate it much more.

The main reason why Beauty and the Beast is so popular is because of Belle. Her character is so well written and developed. She isn’t like any of the previous Disney princesses. A defining characteristic of the Disney Renaissance is how the princesses (or women in general) were portrayed. Starting with The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel, the women are less focused on finding a husband for finding a husband’s sake and more on pursuing their dreams and passions and simply being themselves. Belle likes to read, she has a vivid imagination, she is adventurous, she helps her father with his inventions, and she has dreams of her own that do not fit in with the others in her village. She is one of the first princesses to feel fully developed and that her happily ever after came from the result of her actions, not the actions of the prince.

To go along with Belle, Gaston is not a typical antagonist, at least in appearance. He is a physical embodiment of what this movie, and Disney in general at that time, is trying to move away from. He has similar features to what you would expect from the typical Disney prince. He’s tall, muscular, has a strong chin, and is pursuing the most beautiful girl around for her hand in marriage. But this is the movie’s villain, not the apple of Belle’s eye; This is the guy we are supposed to be rooting against but he looks like the love interest we are typically used to root for. Gaston’s actions and personality part of the movie’s message about judging a person’s characteristics from their appearance. He is handsome on the outside but a beast on the inside.

On the flip side of Gaston is the Beast. Unlike Gaston, his physical appearance is hideous, more fitting of a typical villain than love interest. This is what really pushes the film’s story and message forward. Belle isn’t quick to judge the prince on his appearance or beastly attitude. Instead, she see’s the good in him and works to bring that out of him so he can see for himself that his looks do not define him.

The townsfolk and mob are a third part to the movie’s message about not keeping an open mind and judging others quickly. They follow Gaston, the towns hero despite having a narrow and nasty attitude, and fear the Beast, although they know nothing about him. There is a lyric in “The Mob Song” that perfectly sums it up: “We don’t like / What we don’t understand / In fact it scares us / And this monster is mysterious at least.” Their fear is used by Gaston to lead the crowd into attacking the Beast, using them towards killing the Beast in an effort to still try and win Belle’s heart. Their suspicions and inability to think for themselves allowed them to be easily manipulated.

Speaking of “The Mob Song,” Alan Menkin and Howard Ashman work together (in what would be Ashman’s final film before passing away) to create the score and songs. And once again, it is absolutely wonderful. My personal favorite is “Be Our Guest” but “Belle” and “Gaston” are just as catchy and do a phenomenal job of character building. Of course, you can’t talk about this movie without talking about its title song, “Beauty and the Beast,” easily one of Disney’s most popular ballads. I’ve heard it at weddings, dances, and our high school band often played it for homecoming. It is a very moving and romantic song that has become the definition of a timeless classic.

The art style of Beauty and the Beast looks like something out of a picture book. The colors are bright and vivid, especially during the opening prologue. Even when the colors are more muted, like in the woods, there is still a vibrancy to them. The picture book feel reminds me a lot of Sleeping Beauty where everything just pops off the screen.

This movie is chock full of fun supporting characters. My favorite, hands down, is Lumiere and Cogsworth, voiced by Jerry Orbach and David Ogden Stiers respectively, the first two enchanted inhabitants Belle meets after entering the castle. Although they may be animated, they are just as great as any comedy duo in other movies. Other great characters are the motherly Mrs. Potts, voiced by the sweet Angela Lansbury, and her son Chip, voiced by Bradley Pierce, and the wardrobe in Belle’s room in the castle, voice by the energetic Jo Anne Worley.

I thought Beauty and the Beast was GREAT 😀 It is not hard to see why this became the first animated film to be nominated for a best picture Academy Award. Belle is a strong heroine and the movie’s message about not judging others quickly and letting fear blind you is enduring. Often referred to as the crown jewel of the Disney Renaissance, Beauty and the Beast is a special film that has been loved for over twenty-five years and will remain a beloved favorite for another twenty-five and more.

Favorite Quote
Beast: I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I want to do something for her! But what?
Cogsworth: Well, there’s the usual things: flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.

Trivia
Angela Lansbury, the voice of Mrs. Potts, was unsure of her singing ability and thought that another character might be better suited to sing the song “Beauty and the Beast.” The directors convinced her to record it anyway in case nothing else worked out. She sang the version that made it into the movie in one take.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Gary Trousdale – Director
Kirk Wise – Director
Linda Woolverton – Screenplay
Brenda Chapman – Story
Chris Sanders – Story
Burny Mattinson – Story
Kevin Harkey – Story
Brian Pimental – Story
Bruce Woodside – Story
Joe Ranft – Story
Tom Ellery – Story
Kelly Asbury – Story
Robert Lence – Story
Alan Menkin – Composer
Howard Ashman – Lyricist

Paige O’Hara – Belle (voice)
Robby Benson – Beast (voice)
Richard White – Gaston (voice)
Jesse Corti – Lefou (voice)
Jerry Orbach – Lumiere (voice)
David Ogden Stiers – Cogsworth / Narrator (voice)
Angela Lansbury – Mrs. Potts (voice)
Bradley Pierce – Chip (voice)
Rex Everhart – Maurice (voice)
Tony Jay – Monsieur D’Arque (voice)

Advertisements

Disney and a Beer: The Little Mermaid

The Beer
Abita Christmas Ale – One of my Christmas gifts from my grandparents was a basket of holiday seasonal beers. The Abita Christmas Ale was my last one from the basket. This might be my favorite of the beers that were in the basket. It was heavier than other holiday brews that I have tried, almost like an amber or dark ale, and more flavorful than the others as well. According to Abita, the recipe changes every year, so I think I will try to check it again next holiday season. Verdict: Enjoyed it.

The Movie

The Little Mermaid movie posterSynopsis
Ariel (Jodi Benson (voice)), a mermaid princess, falls in love with Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes (voice)), a human. She strikes a deal with the sea-witch Ursula (Pat Carroll (voice)) and exchanges her voice for a pair of legs so she can be on land and win Eric’s heart.

Review
Given the 80s theme going on this blog lately, I decided to watch one of the last animated films to come out of the decade: The Little Mermaid. I received the blu-ray several months ago and just got around to watching it. I grabbed my little sister (the other ginger of the family) and we sat down to watched our favorite red-headed princess together. Apparently, it had been some time since we both had seen it. When it was finished she remarked, “that’s just good as I remember.” I simply replied, “well, yeah!”

There are two big reasons why this movie works so well: the characters and the music. The characters are charming, relatable, and simply put, so much fun. Ariel is cheerful and venturesome. She doesn’t like to stay still and is always looking for her next adventure. Flounder is the Piglet to Ariel’s Pooh Bear; he’s easily scared but will do anything for his friends. Sebastian is everyone’s favorite crustacean who acts as the buffer between Ariel’s whimsical personality and her father. King Triton is the protective father who will do anything to keep his daughters safe. Eric is the noble prince who will stop at nothing to find his perfect princess. Ursula is mystifying and magically powerful. I think most of us can find a little part of one or more of these characters we can relate to, maybe even Ursula…

Disney is well known for great musical numbers. Some of my favorite come from the era known as the Disney Renaissance and are written by the composer Alan Menken. Menken worked on many of the Renaissance-era films, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Howard Ashman was Menken’s other composing-half until Ashman’s passing in 1991. Together, they created one of Disney’s best soundtracks with instant classics like “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” and “Kiss the Girl.” I’ve also always enjoyed “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” In standard Disney fashion, you will be singing the songs long after you have finished watching the movie.

The Little Mermaid introduces all the major characters within the first fifteen minutes or so. This gives us plenty of time to spend with them. It was much faster paced than I remember. That works well because it keeps the story moving. At the same time, it doesn’t move too fast. It does a great job of balancing character development and story progression.

Most of the film takes place underwater (as you would expect in a story about a mermaid). The animation perfectly captures this environment. None of the movements are stiff or unnatural, they were always smooth and flowing. The animators used live actors for references to sketch, much like Walt Disney used in his early films. It really paid off because characteristics, such as hair movement under water or body movement while swimming, looked and behaved exactly as you would expect it to in real life.

I would have liked to hear just a little bit more of Ursula’s back story. She mentions how she used to be in the palace but was banished. A quick few sentences about what she did in the palace and what happened that caused her banishment would have fleshed out her comments and her character. The deleted scenes contained some of this information but obviously those didn’t make it into the final cut. It doesn’t take away from her character or the story so I don’t think it is a huge deal.

I thought The Little Mermaid was GREAT :-D. There is very little to knock in this film. All the characters are well written, it moves quickly but never feels rushed, the music is infectious and the animation is beautiful. What a way to kick off one of Disney’s best periods of animation!

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Ron Clements – Writer / Director
John Musker – Writer / Director
Alan Menken – Composer
Howard Ashman – Composer

Jodi Benson – Ariel (voice)
Christopher Daniel Barnes – Eric (voice)
Pat Carroll – Ursula (voice)
Kenneth Mars – Triton (voice)
Samuel E. Wright – Sebastian (voice)
Jason Marin – Flounder (voice)
Buddy Hackett – Scuttle (voice)
Paddi Edwards – Flotsam & Jetsam (voice)
Ben Wright – Grimsby (voice)

Disney and a Beer: Sleeping Beauty

The Beer
Sea Dog Wild Blueberry – I like blueberry flavored beers because they are some of the more unique tasting drinks. However, Wild Blueberry brewed by Sea Dog Brewing Co. didn’t have a lot of blueberry taste to it. The aftertaste wasn’t desirable, either. I will throw this in the try again column, though, because it was in my fridge for some time because I forgot about it. Until then, I wasn’t too impressed. Verdict: Disliked it.

The Movie

Sleeping Beauty movie posterSynopsis
After the evil fairy Maleficent (Eleanor Audley (voice)) puts a curse on Princess Aurora (Mary Costa (voice)), King Stefan (Taylor Holmes (voice)) hid her in the woods, guarded by the three good fairies Flora (Verna Felton (voice)), Fauna (Barbra Jo Allen (voice)) and Merryweather (Barbara Luddy (voice)) until her sixteenth birthday.

Review
Sleeping Beauty is one of those Disney classics that everyone sees every now and then but may not necessarily watch regularly. I am guilty of this myself. Let me tell you that is a mistake. Sleeping Beauty is up there as one of Disney’s classic princess films and deserves regular viewings.

Disney has made some pretty great villains over the years, but few are as menacing as Maleficent. What makes her such an intimidating character is she is evil simply to be evil. She doesn’t have any deep motivations, it’s just part of her nature. It’s those kinds of villains that make some of the most unpredictable and exciting counters to the heroes. Her design is splendid, too. Her flowing robes and those deep green and purple accents give Maleficent a sleek elegance to complement her ominous demeanor.

Another character, or I should say characters, that I really enjoyed are the three good fairies: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. They remind me of high school friends that grow old together and are very comfortable around each other and act goofy because they are so close. Each of them have their own unique personality and they all play well off each other, creating some of the funniest moments of the movie. One of the highlights was when they were preparing for Aurora’s birthday. Every time the three of them are on screen together I had a smile on my face.

I forgot how striking the animation was in this film. The background paintings are absolutely gorgeous. They are beautifully detailed and masterpieces all their own. Not only are the backgrounds amazing but the colors of the hand animation are so bright and vivid. I’m glad I watched the blu-ray version because it really gave it justice.

As awesome as Maleficent is, she doesn’t have a lot of screen time. I would have liked to have seen more of her since she is one of Disney’s best villains. The final fight between her and Phillip especially would have been a good time to see more of what she is capable of. It was exciting but felt a little too short.

I think people tend to forget how good Sleeping Beauty is. The animation some of the most beautiful of the time, the three good fairies are some of cinema’s best comedy relief characters, and Maleficent is one of Disney’s greatest villains. I will definitely be sure to watch this again soon.

Rating
3.5/5

By an awesome coincidence, the crew over at Modern Mouse Radio wrote a highly detailed article about Sleeping Beauty‘s production earlier today, which you can read here if you want to learn more about this film’s history.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Clyde Geronimi – Director
Erdman Penner – Story Adaptation

Mary Costa – Princes Aurora (voice)
Bill Shirley – Prince Phillip (voice)
Eleanor Audley – Maleficent (voice)
Verna Audley – Flora (voice)
Barbara Jo Allen – Fauna (voice)
Barbara Luddy – Merryweather (voice)
Tyler Holmes – Stefan (voice)
Bill Thompson – Hubert (voice)

Disney and a Beer: Tangled

The Beer
Harpoon Chocolate Stout – Chocolate flavored beers aren’t my beer of choice, but Harpoon Chocolate Stout was good. The chocolate flavoring wasn’t as powerful as other chocolate stouts I’ve had before, making it one of the better ones. Verdict: Enjoyed it.

The Movie

Tangled movie posterSynopsis
Rapunzel (Mandy Moore (voice)) has been kept in a tower hidden deep in the woods by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy (voice)) for eighteen years. When Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi (voice)) stumbles upon her tower, she makes a deal with him to help her discover the world she has been concealed from.

Review
Ever since the end of the Disney Renaissance, not many Disney films were as successful at capturing the magic in those films. Everything began to turn around with The Princess and the Frog, but Disney began to once again hit their stride with Tangled. Offering the humor, music, and lovable characters like many Disney favorites, Tangled proved that there is still a place for new princesses in Disney’s pantheon.

The animation of this film is one of Disney’s best. I really enjoy how vibrant the colors are. It is a great contrast to the awesome animation of How to Train Your Dragon, which was released the same year. Where HtTYD excelled in dark contrasts, Tangled keeps things full of light and color. Many of the scenes take place in the woods, so there are a lot of greens. Even in the city, the orange and similar colors of the roads and building really stand out. I’d me remised if I didn’t mention Rapunzel’s hair. Everything with the animation just worked.

Disney is very good at creating memorable animal sidekicks. Maximus and Pascal easily are near the top of that list. Like most animal sidekicks, they don’t say anything (at least verbally). But let’s be honest, they don’t really have to. They say enough with their body language. Maximus is the loyal horse of the Royal Guard, tirelessly pursuing Flynn Rider. The chameleon Pascal is Rapunzel’s best friend who keeps Maximus in line and helps Rapunzel with anything she needs. They are both great individually, but as a pair, they are comedic gold.

Flynn Rider not your usual fairy tale hero. He’s a thief. Now I know that has been done before, Aladdin for example. But the difference is that Flynn is a thief because he wants to be, not because he needs to be. His reasons for helping Rapunzel initially are purely selfish. His transformation is predicable, but hey, it’s a Disney movie. What did you expect?

Alan Menken composed the scores for many of the films from the Disney Renaissance. So it’s no surprise that the music of Tangled is amazing. There are so many unforgettable songs, like “When Will My Life Begin,” “Mother Knows Best,” and “I See the Light.” The soundtrack is very reminiscent of songs from Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.

There is a lot to love about Tangled. Stunningly gorgeous animation and fun, memorable characters make this a can’t-miss film.

Rating
4/5

Trivia
Rapunzel’s hair measures 70 feet (21.3 meters) long and is comprised of more than 100,000 individual strands. Special software had to be created to simulate the hair movement because animating that much hair had never been done before.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Nathan Greno – Director
Bryon Howard – Director
Dan Fogelman – Screenplay
Mark Kennedy – Head of Story
Dean Wellins – Additional Story
Alan Menken – Composer

Mandy Moore – Rapunzel (voice)
Zachary Levi – Flynn Rider (voice)
Donna Murphy – Mother Gothel (voice)
Ron Perlman – Stabbington Brother (voice)
MC Gainey – Captain of the Guard (voice)
Jeffrey Tambor – Big Nose Thug (voice)
Brad Garrett – Hook Hand Thug (voice)
Paul F. Tompkins – Short Thug (voice)
Richard Kiel – Vlad (voice)
Delaney Rose Stein – Young Rapunzel (voice)

Coming Soon: Disney and a Beer

Cool title, eh? Bet you’re wondering what it means. Or maybe not, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Ok, let’s be honest, being an adult kind of sucks. I miss the good old days of not worrying about paying bills or keeping a house in ship shape or finding an income. However, there is one good (really good) positive to being an adult: Alcohol.  There has been a tradition of mine that spun out of a text I sent to my cousin.  Now my cousin and I are very close in age  (she is two weeks younger than me… and I never let her forget it) and Disney movies have been a huge part of our lives since before we could talk, something I attribute to our aunt.

Anyway, a while ago I was watching Aladdin and drinking a beer, two of the most opposite things there are, combining one of my favorite things from childhood with one from adulthood.  So I sent her a text along the lines of “Drinking a beer while watching Aladdin. Sometimes being an adult has it’s benefits.” Actually, that’s exactly what it said, apparently I still have it. So ever since then I’ve had a beer (or two) while watching Disney movies at home.

So I’m finally bringing that here.  When I review animated Disney movies I watch at home, I will also add a quick blurb about the beer (or alcoholic beverage) I drank during the movie.  The following scale will be used to say what I thought about what I drank: Loved It, Enjoyed It, Liked It, Disliked It, Despised It. Disclaimer: don’t expect these to be works of art. It’s just to add some fun to some reviews and maybe you’ll read about a drink you may want to try.

My inaugural post for the Disney and a Beer series is Tangled, which you can read right here. I hope you like it.

Cheers!