This week, we watched the second Beauty and the Beast sequel, Belle’s Magical World. This direct-to-video film, released in 1998, was originally conceived as a television show, likely in the vain of Aladdin. Ultimately, the show never came to fruition and what was left was three segments that are loosely tied together for this film.
The film opens with a traditional storybook opening and a brief summary for viewers who have forgotten or (heaven forbid!) have never seen the 1992 film. Like The Enchanted Christmas, Belle’s Magical World is in fact a midquel because it takes place during the time that Belle lived with the Beast in the castle. It expands on the time before they are married, which gives the writers plenty of chances to come up with additional scenes, invent new characters, and continue to develop the storyline from the original. Unfortunately, these opportunities are pretty much wasted and one can easily see why this show never made it to air.
The first segment, “The Perfect Word”, is a lesson in forgiveness. After Belle and the Beast get into an argument at dinner, they refuse to apologize to one another, making some of the servants nervous including three new characters: a dictionary (named Webster, obviously), a stack of papers, and a quill. They decide to forge a letter to the Beast from Belle, asking for forgiveness. Though he is convinced for a little while, Belle and the Beast soon find out and things go downhill. This segment, though it tries to teach a lesson, falls flat. The new characters are uninteresting and the message feels forced and out of place.
“Fifi’s Folly” is the next segment and is about Fifi and her relationship with Lumiere. He seeks help from Belle after getting anxious about their 5th-anniversary date. Trouble arises when Fifi thinks Lumiere is in love with Belle, which is a strange turn of events, to say the least. This segment has little to do with the Beast and focuses primarily on the supporting characters, along with Belle of course. There is nothing good to say about this segment either, sadly, so I will take Thumper’s advice and say nothing at all.
The final segment is titled “Broken Wing” and follows a bird with a- you guessed it- broken wing. The Beast takes it captive and demands that it sing for him, which leads Belle to remind him that it’s not okay to trap things in cages and scream at them. This is representative of the biggest problem with the film which is that it seems to be a repeat cycle of the Beast becoming angry about something, which is then followed by Belle calming him down. Though this dynamic is obviously taken from the original film, it is done to death here and becomes tedious quickly, at the expense of the character of Belle who is portrayed as a pushover. In addition to the poor story, the animation in this film is, quite frankly, horrible, and some of the worst I have seen from Disney. It is ugly and looks plain cheap. Despite the beloved characters we all know and love, there is no charm and very few laughs to be had. The original voice actors all returned, except for Angela Lansbury and I don’t blame her.
This is considered by many to be the worst of the Disney sequels and I sincerely hope so, because that would mean that it is only uphill from here.
Join me next week as I continue to explore the strange world of the DisneyToon sequels with Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.