I actually watched this like a month ago and then forgot to write anything up. Which is fine, because:
Previous viewings: I have seen this movie so many times. This was my favorite movie for a long time, and is still my favorite princess movie. When I was in preschool, I wanted to change my name to Belle. This did not happen.
This viewing: Like The Little Mermaid, I don’t know what there is to say, because I’ve seen it many, many times, and not just as a kid. Cinderella, Mermaid, and Beauty are what I think of when I think of princess movies, and Beauty is the one I find hardest to be critical of, because it’s the one I identified with most once I got past the carrying-Ariel-everywhere stage.
One of my favorite things about this movie that is not the songs or Belle (which are obviously what Little Me loved about the movie and both of which absolutely hold up) is Gaston. Granted, not everything that leads up to Gaston locking up Maurice and leading a mob to the castle makes a whole lot of sense, but I love that he’s a very real villain, which frankly, fairy tales sometimes need, and he’s great as far as actually working into the themes of the story rather than just as a plot device. Not that most villains don’t play into the themes somehow, but I mean, as a villain in a story about deceptive appearances, selflessness, and the desire to experience and understand the broader world out there, he’s perfect. And sings like 3 songs to demonstrate how perfect he is, both as a villain in the context of this story and as a specimen of manliness.