A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Little Mermaid

May 17, 2010

The Little Mermaid

I have a great fondness for this movie. (Which explains why it is in our collection in spite of my wife’s general disdain for all things Disney.) Way back when this movie first came out on VHS my parents bought it for my little sister to give her something to watch while we were on vacation in Maine (as I recall.) This would be right around the time I was graduating from high school. (Man, I thought the movie was older than that. But I suppose that makes sense – I saw Aladdin at the Mann Theater in Hollywood on on it’s debut night so I must have been in college when these next-generation Disney animated movies were coming out.) Anyhow – vacation with my family in Maine. I poo-poohed this movie of course. Partly because I was far too old for such things. Partly because it was such a girlie thing. But mostly because of the quality of Disney movies that came out prior to this in the theaters as I was growing up.

I grew up during the down years of Disney. The theatrical Disney releases of my youth were of a far lower quality than the films of the nineties. Look at the animation of The Aristocats (which came out a couple years before I was born) or Robin Hood (which came out in 1973 and is one of my wife’s favorite Disney movies.) The animation in these films is barely a step above Saturday morning fare. Lots of recycled animation frames and very basic looking backgrounds. I was part of a test screening for The Fox and the Hound (which has NOT aged well in the intervening years I can tell you!) And as a big fan of Lloyd Alexander in my youth I was POWERFULLY disappointed in the antics of The Black Cauldron. Oh, and I completely forgot The Rescuers, which introduced me to the comedy stylings of Bob Newhart and terrified me as a child with the tidal pit. Oliver & Company was thought by some to be the last gasp of a dying genre – the Disney animated feature film was all but dead.

So those were my expectations when I sat down to watch this with my sister Betsy. With such a low bar set for the movie I was blown away. The animation is a major step up. I mean MAJOR! There’s a lot of waves and effects and such. There’s huge crowds of fish swimming around. Hardly any recycled animation at all. All the characters seem like flowing, living creatures, and not like paper cut-outs. There’s even some rudimentary CGI in the ship at the beginning and the palace steps near the start of the third act. The music of course was catchy and fun. The “Kiss the Girl” number is still magical to this day. And it didn’t hurt that Ariel is H.O.T. hot. Damn.

I know Amanda will have a lot to say a lot about the pretty radical “adaptation” from the Hans Christian Anderson original tale of the little mermaid. The original was a cautionary tale about not rising above your station or defying your parents. At least that’s how I’ve always thought of it. So to make a happy-ending Disney adventure out of it is a bit of a departure to say the least. And of course the message that love is based almost entirely on physical appearance (since Ariel has to woo Eric sans voice) is an awful thing to pitch to an entire generation of impressionable little girls.

So… wait… why do I like this movie so much again? Oh, yeah. Hotness! And the return of good animation to Disney. I look forward to reviewing Aladdin, which had most of the good aspects of this movie and fewer of the bad ones. And Mork!

Oh, one last note: this movie pre-dates one of my most hated trends in film-making: the pop-song rendition of a song from the movie over the closing credits. Here we just get a reprise of “Under the Sea,” which is far better.

May 17, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Win: Odo singing about mutilating fish

    Comment by Josh | May 18, 2010 | Reply

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