In Disney's beguiling animated romp, rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel is fascinated with life on land. On one of her visits to the surface, which are forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton, she falls for a human prince. Determined to be with her new love, Ariel makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula to become human for three days. But when plans go awry for the star-crossed lovers, the king must make the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter. Written by
Many merfolk appear in the film, but Ursula is a lesser-known type of mythological creature known as a cecaelia: human upper body and octopus lower body. See more »
In the dinner scene with Ariel, Eric, and Grimsby, Sebastian crawls from Grimsby's plate to Ariel's at her signal, and the table is clean. At the end of the scene, little white footprints appear. See more »
Isn't this great? The salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face. Aaah, the perfect day to be at sea!
[leaning over rail]
Oh, yes urp delightful.
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The mermaid herself is charming. She is animated with real passion - and voiced with real passion too, by Jodi Benson, who provides a powerful argument that whoever provides the speaking voice should also provide the singing voice. She is an innocent heroine but by no means a colourless one. That the prince should fall in love with her, on just seeing her and hearing her voice, is entirely credible.
The same could not be said for Andersen's original mermaid, who is a very cold fish indeed, solely concerned with grabbing immortality, considering the prince as no more than a handy means to it. It's this (and the high value placed on Christianity at the expense of decency) that makes Andersen's ending so insufferable. Obviously, another ending had to be found; and while it must be said that the big ending Musker and Clements came up with is a weak one, it must also be said that it's an improvement.
Musker and Clements still have a problem with their finales (witness `Aladdin' and `Hercules'), but they have countervailing strengths, and those strengths are most apparent here. The songs are all exceptionally staged (the well-known `Under the Sea' actually being the least effective), the comedy is sharp and well-timed, and - more obviously here than anywhere else - they really believe in what they're doing. They give credit to Howard Ashman for this and they could be right; whatever the reason, an air of innocence and sincerity pervades `The Little Mermaid' which makes it - and her - utterly irresistible.
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