I love to read and can get very attached to my opinions, but recently I've been learning not to completely lose my head when people disagree with me, so feel safe to argue with me whenever you wish ;)
I was watching bits and pieces of it yesterday on YouTube and I have to say that after years of estrangement from Disney I still love the shit out of that film.
I know a lot of people hate it because of bestiality, domestic abuse, Stockholm's Syndrome, yadda yadda, (accusations which I think are pretty baseless--their romance only starts after the Beast stops being a jerk, the Beast is actually human, Belle reacts perfectly rationally in every situation).
My favorite funny parts are in the first half, the scenes with Gaston in it. I looooove the marriage proposal scene when Belle flutters her eyelashes, saying "I don't deserve you!" right before she abruptly lets him throw himself out the door.
The songs get repeatedly stuck in my head, which for once I don't mind. My favorite is the beginning one, when Belle walks through the village to the bookshop. It's just the right combination of wistful longing and whimsy and brings out the personalities of a lot of the village characters, even when we see them for only a few seconds. (I love how the dude in the stocks says "Bonjour!" along with the other villagers popping out of their windows.)
Here are some of my favorite lines:
Now it's no wonder that her name means "Beauty"
Her looks have got no parallel
But behind that fair facade
I'm afraid she's rather odd
For a while I wasn't sure why this struck me so much. I think now that it's because it sets her character up in contrast (but also in comparison) to the Beast. It's so clear here that Belle is being set up as an outcast, even as she's admired for her beauty; the same way the Beast is also an outcast, although because he's ugly.
There must be more than this provincial life!
Just watch, I'm going to make Belle my wife!
To which I say, fuck you Gaston.
Anyway, the irony here is pretty self explanatory--a line from Belle longing for a world outside her village, followed by a line from a guy who wants to shove her into the traditional housewife role and thinks it's going to be an easy conquest.
Overall, it's simply kind of cool to have characters introduced to us through a song--an unexpected but suspenseful transition from the darkness of the prologue when the Beast is cursed to be...well, a Beast.
Ok, the bestiality. This accusation makes no sense to me, because 1) the Beast is actually a human, and I say this even when he's in his Beast form. Again and again, the film shows us that the ONLY thing really changed about him is his appearance. He's still a human being with the expected emotional reactions of what someone would go through if they suffered the same tragedy. 2) the Beast, just as in the original story, is a metaphor for humanity's "inner beauty." With Disney's addition of Gaston, we see that human charisma/physical beauty can be a mask for real monstrous cruelty, just as a monstrous appearance can be a mask for real human kindness. Moral of the story, if it isn't already painfully obvious? Appearances don't matter. (And yes, Belle is beautiful, but that's why Gaston's chasing after her is so obviously wrong, while the Beast falling in love with her for her kindness is held to be the superior relationship. Remember, physical beauty can be used to dehumanize someone just as effectively as physical ugliness, the same way Gaston and the villagers "otherize" Belle because being a bookish nerd doesn't fit with being a pretty woman.)
Having said that, being the romance squick that I am, I find myself averting my eyes in the ballroom scene when Belle dances with the Beast in the yellow dress. Still, it's hard to blame Disney for being faithful to the original fairy tale.
Plus, the castle library the Beast gives to Belle is pretty sweet, no denying that :P