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The Little Mermaid (1989)

August 4, 2010

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Not quite up to par with Beauty and the Beast, but it’s no wonder that this is what put Disney back on the map.

The Little Mermaid is about a mermaid (bet you didn’t see that one coming) that has bigger things on her mind than being daddy’s little princess after a chance encounter with the hunkiest buccaneer that ever did sail the ocean blue who she naturally goes ape for the moments she lays eyes on his dashing good looks and lack of gills. So then dear old dad finds out about the crush, he totally over-reacts and starts waving his trident around all willy-nilly, and in totally stupid, angsty move, our girl sells her soul to the one half-human, half-octopus you shouldn’t even sell your seaweed to so that she can have three days as a human to get the man of her dreams…or else.

So, much like my recent return to the aforementioned masterpiece that is Beauty and the Beast, it had been quite a while since I’d given is movie a look because I’d more or less thought that people would question my having “boy parts” if I dared to talk about it in public. ‘Tis a shame really, but I’ve come around thanks to the help of Waking Sleeping Beauty and the fellas over at Pixar, and better yet, I’m proud to announce that everything is still very much in order. That was a close one.

Anywho, the real star of the show here, even more than my man Sebastian, even more than the seashell bikini craze this started, is the music. Wasn’t all that crazy about “Part of That World” or Ursula’s jam, but then there’s the holy trinity of “Under the Sea”, “Kiss the Girl” (best of the bunch) and the French chef’s “Poisson” song (hilarious), and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. The lyrics are great, the instrumentals are catchy as sin and up until that Jamaican crab starts orchestrating those turtles whose shells sound suspiciously similar to steel drums, this movie was actually hovering somewhere around a 7.

The writing for the most part is good, but it’s really through the tunes that the humor, connections and personalities of the characters and the story as a whole comes to life. The only exceptions to this statement being the continually amusing seagull, Scuttle, and the scene where Ariel starts acting a fool at the dinner table by forking her hair and ashing out a pipe on some rich dude’s face, but the magic really is in the music. Man, that Howard Ashman and Alan Manken really knew what the hell they were doing and do a great job of elevating an otherwise charming and fun script into a real treat that had me smiling right along.

But I don’t know, the characters aren’t bad, they just aren’t as memorable as I once remembered the being. Flounder is just kind of there, Triton seemed like a pretty canned father figure, and while Ariel does seem to have the perfect look to match the persona, there have been better Disney princesses. She made some pretty dumb decisions. Ursula’s a pretty solid villain though, but these mermaid folk must be as gullible or desperate as they come if they didn’t turn tail as soon as they swam through her trophy hall of trapped souls. Wouldn’t strike me as the best way to lure in customers, but, hey, can’t say it didn’t work for the gal.

And I don’t know about you, but I was sweating bullets during the last Act here. Honestly, once Ursula got the upper hand in a most serious of fashions, I really had no freaking’ clue how our gang was gonna get back in top. That chick was bigger than Godzilla and she had Triton’s trident, and as far as I could tell, there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could do about it. Big fan of how that situation got resolved though. Chalk one up for the humans.

Alright, it’s not the emotional roller coaster or trip down nostalgia lane like some of these Disney classics are, but The Little Mermaid still very much deserves a place in the “classic” canon. It’s still beautifully animated, it’s worth revisiting if only for the music and it’s hard not to get swept up in any experience when it makes you feel just like a kid again. And if you haven’t seen Ponyo yet, check that joint out, very cool remake of sorts.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan permalink
    August 4, 2010 9:07 am

    So is this what you watch when Audrey isn’t around?

  2. August 4, 2010 10:17 am

    Good for you for reviewing this and for being so open to it, because it’s one of Disney’s finest. I agree Part Of Your World is probably my least favorite of the soundtrack, but generally the rest is epically good. I love the characters, love the story, it has genuine heart, and it has a bad ass villain, something Disney has been scared to do again since the malicious Scar. I feel like going back and revisiting some of these Disney classics. Maybe next month I’ll even start my own blogathon. Probably not, but it’s a lovely idea.

    • August 6, 2010 8:00 am

      hahaha, what a LOVELY idea. been visiting a lot of my younger cousins over the past weeks, so naturally I’m raiding their DVD collections like the mooch I am. Got The Incredibles and Finding Nemo coming up one of these days, slowly making the rounds. but yeah, this was a good one, nowhere near as girly as I labeled it for so many years. Think I’m growing up, Heather.

  3. August 4, 2010 2:51 pm

    I had a huge crush on Ariel when I was a kid. Loved the shells.

    • August 6, 2010 8:03 am

      haha. I guess we all have to start somewhere. Shells are never a bad look though.

  4. August 4, 2010 7:26 pm

    Nice review. Weirdly enough I did a recap of this movie just yesterday on my blog.

    When I revisited it, I kind of wanted Ursula to win. (Hey, to be fair, Ursula was playing by the rules of the contract. And Ariel went and killed her pets! Who wouldn’t be pissed?) =D

    • August 6, 2010 8:06 am

      Oh, Ursula was such a bitch. That whole shit with Flotsam and Jetsam sabotaging their first kiss, then her ass turning into a human with Ariel’s voice to hypnotize the prince and get him to ditch Ariel? Horse shit! That Ursula had the mast coming to her gut for a while. She did almost come out on top though, I will give her that. Interested to hear your thoughts though. Thanks for visiting!

  5. August 4, 2010 7:47 pm

    I remember wondering where Ariel’s mother was during the movie, but not when Andy’s father was gone from Toy Story. Odd.

  6. August 4, 2010 8:16 pm

    I have angry memories of this movie.

    My name is Sebastian!
    A favorite color of mine is red.
    I’m a swimmer!

    I’ll leave it to you to imagine how much crap I got in middle school about this film!

    Good film though! Great music in it!

    • August 6, 2010 8:10 am

      Hahaha, sorry, man. At least Sebastian kicks ass, be glad you aren’t named Flounder…or Ursula.

  7. August 5, 2010 10:24 am

    Love this review and love this movie. It’s one of those feel good kind of movies and one of the ones that Disney did right:)

    • August 6, 2010 8:14 am

      Haha, thanks! Definitely holds up for Disney as one of the best they put out in the prime of their day. They should bring that back instead of just counting on Pixar to do it for ’em. Miss that hand-drawn stuff.

  8. August 5, 2010 12:12 pm

    I revisited it about a year ago. Its sweet, I enjoyed the music…and I liked Part of Your World

    • August 6, 2010 8:17 am

      Haha, nothing wrong with Part of Your World, just thought the others stood out more. “Sweet’s” the word alright.

  9. Darren permalink
    August 5, 2010 5:00 pm

    Nah, never really embraced this one. Except for Kiss the Girl. Anyone who pretends not to enjoy that song is either a liar or just wrong.

    But then I’m a Lion King man and found some love for The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So what do I know?

    • August 6, 2010 8:21 am

      Man, don’t hear much love for Hunchback anymore these days, but Lion King definitely deserves another watch.

      And I completely agree about Kiss the Girl. So awesome.

  10. August 5, 2010 9:51 pm

    I love all these movies, not even guiltily. Sebastian is the man.

  11. August 6, 2010 1:32 pm

    Hats off for being open-minded about reviewing a Disney flick, and your review is always spot on! Yes, if I were to rank the best things about this movie. #1 would be the music, like you said Kiss the Girl and Under the Sea are just amazing, though I quite like Part of that World ‘cuz well, that’s the quintessential Disney princess’ tune. #2 Sebastian!!! I was telling Andrew @ Encore Entertainment how much I love that character and the voice, he really stole the show from even Ariel. #3 The story Makes me appreciate being human, no need to sell my soul to be able to walk the same ground as the man I love 🙂 And yes, Ursula is scarier and more bad ass than even… the Kraken!

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