Every movie script has a few flaws, especially if you think about them enough. Disney movies, for all their splendor, are no exception. And once you start thinking about them, the whole premise comes apart.
Seriously? Everyone knows this story. Snow White is a young beauty, the evil queen is an aging dame, and the latter is jealous of the former. Using a magic mirror to ascertain that Snow White truly is the fairest of them all, the queen sends an assassin after Snow White, who instead leads her to safety with seven height-disadvantaged protectors. Figuring that a job done right needs doing herself, the Queen transforms into an old crone, gives Snow White a poisoned apple, and cackles maniacally as the young girl collapses, surely dead until revived by the kiss of a prince, after which they live happily ever after.
Yes, caring about appearances is certainly a character flaw, and it doesn't matter how we look on the outside when what's on the inside counts, and blah, blah, blah. But the flaw in Queen Grimhilde's entire outlook is based on a far more practical point: she can shape-shift.
Remember, Grimhilde didn't put on makeup. She didn't hunch over and apply an accent. She actually drank a potion that turned her into an old crone.
"Hm...hopefully it only smells like hobo ass."
Grimhilde knows of a potion that can change the way people look.
And she shives a git about appearance? Why again? She can look HOWEVER SHE WANTS!
"Mirror, mirror, tell me what's up
Would I be fairer than her with a 42D cup?"
Sure, we all know that the whole idea of inner-beauty is just something ugly people made up to keep from falling asleep crying as they lay inevitably alone in bed on Valentine's Day. But even if Grimhilde isn't emotionally mature enough to realize, from this very tangible proof, that outward appearance is secondary to personality, shouldn't the very fact that she can switch faces more easily than John Travolta and Nicholas Cage make the very idea of beauty competitions moot? If she finds someone fairer in all the land than she, she can make a potion to become fairer still. If that is beyond her capabilities, she can give the elixir to the competition and turn her into a hag, murder free.
Disney's newest movie Tangled, a modern take on Rapunzel, suggests that a piece of the sun fell to earth and became a flower with healing properties. Found by Gothel, the old woman used the flower to stay young and healthy, until it was located, ground up, and made into a medicine by local nobility to help the ailing queen with her pregnanacy. The child born of this, Rapunzel, had long blonde hair that turned brunette when cut (proving, as Disney has long suggested, that girls without blonde hair are broken human beings). More to the point, when Rapunzel sings the same song Gothel did to the flower, the same healing and rejuvenation occurs. Gothel steals the infant and keeps her locked in a tall tower, until a wandering rogue gives Rapunzel and excuse to escape her gilded cage and see the world she has dreamed about, eventually reunited with her long-lost royal parents, and they live happily ever after.
Also, for reasons that are never made entirely clear, this happens.
Gothel was the first person to find the flower and sing it a song. A very specific song:
"Flower gleam and glow
Let your powers shine
Make the clock reverse
Bring back what once was mine.
Heal what has been hurt
Change the fate's design
Save what has been lost
Bring back what once was mine,
What once was mine..."
It is suggested that Rapunzel's hair doesn't cure any time she sings (that would make it difficult to stage a musical, after all), only when she sings this one song.
"Now you come in on the second-line. Row-row-row your boat..."
But Gothel, despite her cronish appearance, is no magical witch with arcane knowledge. The most herblore she seems to know is how to tell which mushrooms aren't poisonous and will make good soup. Nor is it likely she was singing a local ditty by accident and it happened to be the very same trigger to activate the flower. This song specifically addresses a flower making someone healthy; based on the length of the song, in this scenario the chances are literally greater that a Green Lantern ring would drop onto a planet where the "In Brightest Day" chant is a local nursery rhyme.
Even if there is some local folklore that a flower grown from the sun has healing properties, the king and all his advisors and a whole town full of people who adore their ailing queen have no better idea that "make it into an elixir." Even if the healing flower is part of their mythology, the singing is presumably not.
This implies there is no logical way she could have stumbled across the powers of this song except by trial and error. Completely random trial and error, without any hint of where to start or even if it would achieve any effect at all.
"That didn't work. Maybe next time more cayan pepper and I'll spin counter-clockwise."
So the fact that she is able to sing to this flower logically suggests that she spent a great deal of time, possibly decades, certain that this flower had magical properties and visiting it in secret to try everything to activate that magic until it finally worked.
In Beauty and the Beast, Belle is a bibliophile in a town where reading and not fawning over the local alpha male set her apart from the rest of the citizens. When her addlepated father stumbles into a nearby cursed castle whose servants are furniture and whose ruling prince is a fur-covered monster, the Beast takes the old man prisoner. Belle exchanges her servitude for his, but with the progression of time and Stockholm's Syndrome she comes to love the Beast as the Beast learns how to be someone worth loving. Disaster strikes when the town learns of this beast and forms a mob to destroy him, but Belle confesses her love, kisses the beast, and breaks the curse, transforming the servants back into humans and the Beast into a handsome prince. And they live, of course, happily ever after.
The castle is within marching distance. You ever marched more than ten miles? In a car, that takes ten minutes. In a mob, that takes about three hours, not counting time taken to grab pitchforks and light the torches. Even on horseback it takes about an hour.
"Get directions? It's the only castle within walking distance! Plus, this mirror has googlemaps!"
The point is that this castle has been around for a long time, but the Prince has logically only been a beast for a few years. Specifically, ten years, as Lumeire specifically mentions "Ten years we've been rusting." But perhaps he was rounding it off or exaggerating for effect. Candelabras are not widely known for their attention to detail. After all, the curse is permanent on the prince's 21st birthday and if he were younger than 12 there would surely be a regent or someone else in charge. But this curse has definitely been going on anywhere from ten years to a minimum of two years ago (since the intro specifically mentions years passing as the Beast loses all hope).
Ten years since there's been word one from that castle. If City Hall closed up shop, how long do you think it would take people to notice? Surely someone's going to realize they can't renew their driver's license and that no one's bothered to pick up the recycling for a few weeks.
Meanwhile, consider this: servants don't tend to live where they work. Cogsworth, as the castle's seneschal, probably did, as might Mrs. Potts as the head maid. But most servants would live in nearby areas with their families, sort of the same way the maid who comes to clean twice a week doesn't live in your guest bedroom. That shit gets expensive.
The point is, those servants would have lived nearby, probably in that same village. Sure, France is litered with castles, but not so many that there would be two within walking distance. It's a poor provincial town, remember. Belle isn't saying that to be snobby; a province is defined as a rural area whose nearest location is a capital or large city. Or, say, a castle.
A castle that gets taxes, lays down edicts, protects local villages, maintains the roads, and y'know, exists. A castle that has been there for a long time; heck, some of the provincial town's residents' ancestors probably helped build it. A castle that employed enough servants that, post-curse, they could have stocked a furniture warehouse.
Each and every one of those steinhoists and champagne bottles was once a human being with people who loved him.
There are so many servants in the castle that they became entire silverware settings. Those servants came from somewhere. Is the reason Belle's provincial town is so poor because half the inhabitants (and with it their income) disappeared a few years ago? Did squatters find the town completely abandoned and just move in and pretend they'd been there forever?
Because the alternative is that everyone in Belle's village (except maybe Belle and her father themselves, not being natives) know there's a castle there, and if dozens of townsfolk disappeared one day, at least two years ago, surely someone popped over to investigate before Belle's dad?
In Aladdin, a young thief finds a magic lamp that gives him three wishes from a logorhoeic blue genie. His first wish is to become a prince so he can win the hand of the beautiful Princess Jasmine. His second saves his life from the evil vizir Jafar who is trying to steal the throne for himself. His third frees the genie of his servitude. This act, his bravery in saving the city of Agrabah from Jafar, and Jasmine's obvious love for Aladdin even though he lied about his origins, convince the Sultan to change the law so Jasmine can marry a commoner, and they live happily ever after (plus 2 sequels and a TV series).
Prince of what?
Aladdin is transformed into Prince Ala Ababwa. His tattered rags turn into fine silk threads. His new wealth is sufficient to include - amongst other things - 75 golden camels, 52 purple peacocks, and a world-class menagerie. He has the strength of ten men and his deeds are legend.
Also, a king-sized wang.
But Aladdin didn't wish to be rich, or famous. He wished to be a prince.
A prince is a non-reigning member of a royal family, a male heir directly sired by the king and/or queen, or the sovereign equivalent, i.e. a sultan. Unlike some titles, like Duke or Count or Captain of Awesomeness, Princehood cannot be bought except into. If Aladdin marries Jasmine, he will be a prince, as she is a princess. Before that, he needs a nation to be prince of, or he is just a dude who looks really swank in a turban. To fulfill the wish, Aladdin needed to be a prince before he married Jasmine.
So where is his nation?
Nowhere nearby, that's for certain; Jafar explicitly states he has never heard of Prince Ali's nation, nor is it ever specifically mentioned by name.
Could it be where this bitch has been hiding all this time?
This suggest one of two premises, both troubling.
The first is that the genie just made up a monarchal title and hoped for the best. Considering that the powers of a genie are nearly limitless (stopping the earth's rotation or bringing forth life from the ether or creating a giant mecha Gundam that shoots missiles from everywhere, for example were not amongst the 3 quid pro quos Robin Williams recounted) the idea that he would cut corners is worrisome.
But not nearly as worrisome as the idea that he didn't. That somewhere there is a nation whose heir is hanging out in the market stalls of Agrabah stealing apples and going on adventures. A nation that didn't exist until some street rat made a wish, and then sprang forth into existence and will continue running until it is conquered by invading Turks without a fight, as their reigning sovereign is, again, in Agrabah.
In The Little Mermaid, Ariel is an aquatic princess fascinated by the land above the sea despite her father's disapproval (as we all know, nothing dissuades teenage girls from something faster than when an overbearing figure of parental authority makes heavy-handed decrees expressly forbidding them). Doing her part to curb water pollution, she hordes every trinket humans drop over the side of their boats, including the statue of handsome Prince Eric. Seeing Eric in person, she falls in love with him, and makes deal with the sea witch Ursula to trade her voice for legs.
Then she tries to get Eric to fall in love with her, hindered when Ursula turns herself human and bewitches the Prince, all in a convoluted bid to rule the undersea kingdom. Fortunately, Arial is able to stop her and break the spell by reminding Eric that redheads are totally hotter than brunettes. Seeing how much his daughter loves the human prince, King Triton uses his own magical trident to give her legs and let them live happily ever after.
Nutrition. Or rather, the lack of it.
My whole family likes seafood. Except my sister, who saw this movie when she was five and hasn't touched fish since.
A reoccurring theme throughout The Little Mermaid is it is wrong to eat fish; that is why humans are considered bad to the merfolk. To mermaids, fish are your friends and confidants, crabs can be musical director, and the smelt and the sprat they know where it's at. Fish are, in other words, real people.
How are you going to eat them? And if you can't, it begs the question: what are you going to eat?
"You all look delicious!"
Humans have a definite advantage over merfolk when it comes to ethical nourishment. We have a wide variety of meat-sources to choose from, none of which are intelligent (or at least intelligent enough to figure out how to get us to stop eating them). In fact, while bovine has become synonymous with stupid, we avoid eating most animals that show intelligence, such as dogs, cats, dolphins and monkeys. Mermaids don't have that luxury. The dinner choices in the ocean are fish, fish, and more fish.
Sure, there are plants in the sea. But there is very little nutrition in seaweed, and mermaid mouths are not set up to sieve krill like a whale. Even vegetarians don't subsist on salad alone; if they want to be healthy they need protein from alternate sources like nuts, which are noticeably absent underwater. Certain strains of green algae have maybe half as much protein as meat, but you need a LOT of fat to create the subcutaneous blubber to stay warm at the bottom of the ocean in only a seashell bikini. Ariel's busty form beneath those purple seashells and Triton's beefy musculature suggest they get plenty of meat; think back to the last time you saw a really buff vegetarian, after all. Nor do Triton's seven daughter hint that food is scarce; even amongst royalty, in times of famine the infant mortality rate is the first thing to zoom. But except for seaweed, fish, and a few aquatic mammals, there's really nothing to eat down there beneath the Bathypelagic Zone.
It is possible they eat shark, since sharks seem mindless and have an adversarial relationship with merfolk. Maybe that's why sharks are endangered?
And what if they do eat fish? Even Aquaman eats fish because, though he can command, control, and get information from them, he still acknowledges they aren't sentient. In The Little Mermaid they totally are, which would make them cannibals. Still, the calories have to come from somewhere.
Perhaps that's why so many human sailors know and fear the name of King Triton?
"He tastes delicious!"