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The Little Mermaid (1989)

  Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Written by: Roger Allers, Hans Christian Anderson, Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jodie Benson, Pat Carroll
Links: The Little Mermaid on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Cartoon/Animation

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

The Little Mermaid (1989) is also mentioned in mino's review of Shrek 2 (2004).

"A great era brought about by an OK film" - a review by mino

As someone who has long been a big fan of the magic that can be made from a high-quality animated ‘family film’, I have to say that The Little Mermaid is a pretty special movie. Not because of how good it is, but rather because it marked the return to form of the Disney Corporation, a company which, let's face it, hadn't produced a good animated feature since maybe The Jungle Book (1967), about twenty years earlier. Disney went on to produce a string of animated features that just kept getting better: Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994). From then on, they definitely took a bit of a dip, but even so, any of the films they've made since then is pretty much a massive improvement on, say, The Great Mouse Detective (1986).

Since, then, of course, we've had companies like Dreamworks and Pixar take this resurgence in feature animation and run with it, producing (in the latter case, anyway) some of the very best animated movies of all time. It's a big call to say that The Little Mermaid is the cause of all this; but it's certainly not too far from the truth.

So, the big question: how good is The Little Mermaid? Well, first off, I'll say that I'm not a massive fan of the movie per se. Like its immediate successor, Beauty and the Beast, Mermaid is pretty clearly a film that is going to appeal to ‘little girls’ more so than ‘little boys’. And, unless I've been badly misled over the years, the one I used to be was a little boy. Even to this day, I find Mermaid to be way too cutesy-pie and sweet for my tastes. The plot — little mermaid falls for big handsome sailor, makes deal with hideous sea-witch to swap her beautiful singing voice for a pair of gams so she can be with him — is fine, and even a little dark in places, but overall it's just too hard to shake the impresion that Ariel is a cute little girl who likes brushing her hair and falling in love with sailors which, let's face it, isn't going to appeal to too many stereotypical boys.

The Little Mermaid, it has to be said, also hasn't aged well. While it was pretty amazing for its time, it just looks kind of old now, and not just because of the advances that have been made in smooth, clean-looking animation since then. The script and timing don't seem nearly as polished as in later films, with some parts being very slow indeed. The humour is there — thanks largely to the soon-to-become-obligatory ‘talking animal friends’ Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the apparently-Jamaican-crab — it's not nearly as funny or as clever as, say, Aladdin. Disney obviously learned a lot from the first few tottering steps back into the big wide world of quality animation, and the quality picked up very quickly after this. The songs are of the usual high standard, though, with Under The Sea and Kiss The Girl being notable highlights.

All that said, The Little Mermaid, aged though it may be, can't be too bad at all. My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter loves it, so obviously even after all these years it's still clear they did something right.

mino gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 28 Sep 2004

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Reader comments

  1. Ho hum

    Rating given: 4

    A comment from BHR ( on Wed 12 Jan 2005 01:44 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 4.00 (1 rating)

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