Movie Review: The Little Mermaid (1989)

 Based on Hans Christian’s fairytale called The Little Mermaid, this adventurous film was released on November 17, 1989. Featuring Ariel (Jodi Benson), a 16 year old mermaid who also happens to be the daughter of King Triton.

         The movie begins with Ariel and her best friend Flounder (Jason Marin) searching through the wreck of a sunken ship for more human belongings for Ariel’s collection. Chased by a great white shark, the two narrowly escape and swim to the surface to visit Scuttle (Buddy Hackett). During their visit, Flounder remembers the concert that Ariel is supposed to be debuted at.

        In the meantime, all of Atlantica has shown up to hear the youngest daughter of King Triton sing. As the concert begins Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) composes the orchestra and the mermaids. Discovering that Ariel was a no show, the concert ended and the furious King Triton and Sebastian wait for Ariel’s arrival and poor explanation. Angry with the truth, the king forbids Ariel to go to the surface and has Sebastian babysit her.

        Hurt, Ariel and Flounder, with Sebastian in tow, they go to the grotto until they notice a ship passing overhead. Disobeying her father, Ariel goes to investigate. She watches  the birthday celebration of Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes). His advisor Grimsby (Ben Wright) gifts the prince with a statue. Suddenly hit by a violent storm, the ship tosses and turns, quickly getting hit by lightening, the ship goes up in flames and the crew makes a hasty exit to the rafts. Eric didn’t make the boat and ends up sinking in the water. Ariel rescues the prince, bringing him on to the beach and sings until he starts to come about before hiding.

          Fascinated by the mysterious voice, Eric walks the beach everyday to find the girl. In the meantime, King Triton finds out about Ariel’s feelings for the human prince. Upsetting Ariel more, she swims to the witches home. There Ursula (Pat Carroll) draws up a contract to which Ariel gives up her voice for 3 days of being a human, if Ariel can’t get Eric to kiss her. Ursula will own her. Ready to be a human, Ariel signs the contract. Flounder, Sebastian and Scuttle help her while Ursula’s pets Floatsam and Jetsam (Paddi Edwards) spy on her.

          When Ursula sees that Ariel is close to fulfilling her end of the bargain, she transforms herself into Vanessa (Jodi Benson) a human woman using Ariel’s stolen voice. Eric finds Vanessa and insists they get married that afternoon.

        While preparing for the wedding, Scuttle discovers the truth behind the Vanessa disguise. He quickly flies to Ariel to tell her. With the help of Flounder and Sebastian, Ariel makes it to the ship as Scuttle and animal friends destroy the wedding. In the process the seashell breaks and Ariel gets her voice back. Furious, Ursula changes back to her usual form and changes Ariel back into a Mermaid before diving into the sea.

         Eric jumps in and stabs Ursula, angering her more, she grows as big as can be and starts a whirlpool to destroy Ariel and Eric but Eric outsmarts her and defeats Ursula.

        With permission from King Triton, Ariel turns human and married Prince Eric, uniting humans and Merfolk.

The Little Mermaid is the beginning of the Disney Renaissance Period. The Little Mermaid is such a classic but funny enough as kids we saw this movie in a whole other way then we do as adults. As a child, we wanted to be a mermaid. We thought she had the best life. I mean so much freedom for a 16 year old but as a parent, I’m thinking, King Triton is not strict enough. Honestly I find the 3rd the best but this truly is a classic. How can you be a disney fan without knowing about Ariel?

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