Review – The Little Mermaid (1989)

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the-little-mermaid-55ef4f87f1e64Look at this film, isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete? Wouldn’t you think I’m the guy…the guy that reviewed everything? No! In fact, I haven’t reviewed all of the classic golden age Disney films, but I plan to at some point. There’s just so much there to talk about. I sometimes get scared about watching the classics, because something nagging in my brain tells me it’ll age beyond recognition and won’t be entertaining anymore. That being said, there’s always that Disney magic that works as a preservative, keeping their films new and relevant. The Little Mermaid came out a year after I was born…so how is it today?

The Little Mermaid is about Ariel, a mermaid that just wants to go on the land, people! It’s about exploration at its core, with a little romance sprinkled on top, as one man, Prince Eric, comes around and ends up being the love of her life. So, in order to make this happen, she makes a deal with Ursula, the witch of the sea, to give her legs. The catch? She can’t use her voice to tell him who she is. If they kiss naturally in three days, she keeps her legs and regains her voice…that is…if Ursula lets it happen that way. She is a witch, after all.

Let’s talk about some interesting things that came up when watching this. She loses her voice before she goes on land, so most of the songs actually occur in the beginning, and not throughout the film. Sebastian single “Kiss the Girl” later, but that’s really about it. For a Disney musical, it surprising to see that. For a lot of Disney films, the singing acts as the obstacles, acts as the climax, etc. This time, it did something different. It acted as an ice breaker. It got you on board to the point where you’re okay to watch anything at this point.

Another thing that caught my eye was Prince Eric. I know all about Disney Princess having to actually be princesses, but this might be the only Disney movie where that didn’t have to be so. Ariel fell in love with him at first sight…mostly because he was the first human that she saw. What if she happened to go above sea while the Black Pearl was passing by and she saw Captain Jack Sparrow? Even in Disney’s even older days, they’ve been known to make mermaids fawn over humans. They did it in Fantasia, they did it in Peter Pan, and I’m pretty sure they actually did it in one of the Pirates films. Mermaids fawn. So technically, it was merely chance that she saw Prince Eric.

Next up, I noticed that this film gave inspiration to a ton of other Disney films. While watching, I noticed elements of Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Moana, Hunchback, Lion King,  and Mulan. Finding Nemo started off with Nemo’s father saying you can’t go to the boat. Dory started off with saying you can’t go into that stream. Moana started off with saying you can’t go past the barrier. Hunchback started off with you can’t go “Out There”, Hunchback and Moana even have similar songs about wanting to explore. Lion King – you can’t go to the shadow lands.  With Mulan, Sebastian was basically Mushu if you think about it. His job was identical. I think it all has to do with growing up, and wanting to step out of your parents’ house to explore life, while your parents are afraid of what that could mean.

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PEOPLE SCORE (10/10)
Acting – 2|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 2

Alright, down to the nitty gritty. The people score got a perfect score because there’s just nothing you can find to complain about. The acting was great, the characters are still memorable to this day, everyone in the film has a role to play that adds to the plot, and they all feel great together. Everyone has chemistry that is likeable and believable.

WRITING SCORE (10/10)
Dialogue – 2|Balanced – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2

The writing score also got a perfect score, being one of Disney’s best films. With musicals, I often contribute the message of the songs to the dialogue, which of course, are memorable. It’s a kids film, so it’s not an over-convoluted mess, it has a really good story at the heart of everything, which is basically to follow your heart. As far as originality goes, I still haven’t seen many mermaid films, so I’d say this is pretty original. Finally, it’s just an interesting, fun film in general.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES SCORE (9/10)
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2

Everything behind-the-scenes was mostly as perfect as everything else, save for the editing. The editing wasn’t bad, but nothing stood out. Everything else in this category stood out. It’s a very visually impressive cartoon, the direction of the story was a bold one, and smart, for choosing to do nearly every song before the inciting incident. The advertisement was mainly as advertised and as remembered, and the music was, of course, phenomenal.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE (10/10)
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 2

Perfect story arc here. The introduction held most of the music and character development. It took its sweet time introducing you to Ariel, Triton, Sebastion, Prince Eric, Ursula and beyond. It taught you why she wants to go above water and why others don’t think that’s a great idea. The inciting incident is when Ursula takes her voice and gives her legs. The obstacles were basically every time Ariel was trying to win that kiss. In real life, she wouldn’t wait for him to kiss her, she’d just kiss him. Female POWER! The climax was perfect, as was the falling action and return to the new norm.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (6/10)
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 1|Impusle/Talk – 0|Sucks Audience IN – 1

But how entertaining is it? It could be better, in my opinion. I definitely consider this to be a fun, rewatchable film, but the rest of the entertainment category just didn’t win here. I’d say I have an interest in buying it, but not at full price, and not right now. I don’t really have an impulse to talk about it. As far as sucking the audience in, I’ll go as far as to say when she’s singing, it definitely does. When it’s on land…there’s a possibility it could lose you.

SPECIALTY CATEGORIES (50/50)
Disney Classics – 10|Musical – 10|Moral of Story – 10|Romance – 10|Liam-tested – 10

I don’t usually get a perfect score for the specialty categories, but when I do…it’s on good movies. These were written before I saw the film. The only one I didn’t do was that it held up from memory. Instead of doing that, I gave my son a chance to watch it, and he approves of it, as he sat through the whole film without distraction. Beyond that, it fits perfectly in the Disney Classics, it has phenomenal music, there’s a great moral to the story, and it’s truly one of the best romance you can find in the golden age of Disney. They had great chemistry and the romance was pretty sweet and believable.

RATING – 95/100

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