Is 'Beauty & The Beast' Appropriate For Kids Under 5? You Might Want To Screen It First
It's almost hard to believe that after such a long wait, the live action Beauty and the Beast is finally out in theaters. If you have kids, you probably want to take them along for the ride to see the classic fairy tale, but there are enough spooky moments in the original story that you might want to go check it out alone first to see if Beauty and the Beast is appropriate for kids under 5 years old. Truth be told, whether or not you eventually cave and take the little ones along with you for a second showing really depends on the individual kid and how much you think they're able to handle.
The live action version, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, follows the same plot as the 1991 animated version, but it's rated PG, which means that there is a little light violence and some dark plot-lines that might require parental guidance. There are lots of uplifting moments, like "Be Our Guest," which is still one of the highlights of the movie (just like its animated counterpart), and it finishes with a happy ending. But there are some scary moments, depending on how tough your toddler is. Like, just alone, the appearance of the Beast's house under the curse is creepy AF and there are times that he lashes out and yells. Stevens looks like a harmless enough guy, but with all of his fur and Beast horns, he's an intimidating character.
Also kind of scary: Gaston and his wild mob of townspeople who hate the Beast. In general, the whole idea of being held captive and having your father's life threatened — creepy.
Then there are specific things that are a lot darker in this 2017 version. The wolves in the woods, for one, are much scarier than they are in the cartoon. Also weird is that the curse in this one destines the household objects — like Lumiere and Mrs. Potts — to lose all of their human characteristics as the petals from the rose fall. The process starts towards the end and if you have a sensitive kid, it could be a bit much. Then again, it's the kind of plot point a toddler might not pick up on either, so judge for yourself.
You can watch clips of the original animated version online, which are easier to find obviously, and preview some of the more intense moments, like the wolf attack or Gaston's death. If you think your 4-year-old will have nightmares after watching the cartoon version, you might want to steer clear of the IRL Beast and cursed mansion and take the older kids instead (your 4-year-old might whine, but it's better than them waking up three times a night for a week because they're having weird nightmares).
Then again, Beauty and the Beast is also a funny romp and super fun to sing along to, so just use your judgement — if your kid loved the animated version and can handle tough moments (with you sitting next to them, of course), feel free to take them along. As long as your child understands that curses don't exist in real life, the wolves can't eat them, and the Beast isn't going to come kidnap them after the movie, you're probably safe.
Whatever your particular case, make sure you (the grown-up) get a chance to see the film yourself — it's a beautiful, colorful, magical spectacle you won't want to miss, sans kids or otherwise.