Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997) – reviewed by George

One thing this blog has taught me is a little bit of empathy. I now think I know how those critics feel who resent being manipulated into, not actually crying, but being touched by something calculated, and feeling emotions that the film has simply not earned.
This is not a bad film (produced by Walt Disney Television Animation), but it’s not a good film either. It starts in the future with Belle and her Prince (the former Beast) having a super nice Christmas with their household staff, and Chip receives a storybook. He wants to hear a story right now, and Mrs. Potts and then the others tell him of the time when Belle was a prisoner. She escaped and was surrounded by a pack of wolves and the Beast saved her. This was shown in the original movie.
From that point the tale covers the following Christmas when the pipe organ, Forte (Tim Curry) schemed against Belle and used the fife, Fife (Paul Reubens) to do most of the dirty work. The rest of the voice cast is the same as the original movie, and frankly I don’t know how the studio got them to do it (although my daughter suggested it was in their contracts that if a sequel was made they had to come back). When the story has been told we return to the present for the finish.
The picture has its touching moments, but they all feel artificial, following as they do situations and reactions that are just not that impressive. Children may like this: Chip begins as a boy, then is a cup in the flashback, then is a boy again for the finale. And perhaps parents can get their kids interested in being read to by using Chip’s loving appreciation of his storybook Christmas present – but in today’s world I doubt it.
Written by Flip Kobler & Cindy Marcus and Bill Motz & Bob Roth (and two teams of writers may be part of the problem), and directed by Andy Knight, the Christmas connection is not strong enough to carry the film.

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