G, 1 hr. 25 min. Directed by: John Musker, Ron Clements. Release Date: November 15, 1989. DVD Release Date: December 7, 1999.
My life has been a little high stress of late. Job seeking in an increasingly dismal economy, figuring out how to manage my finances and my life, and listening to peoples' badly worded pep talks about how some international company will want my skills (psst... they really don't right now) are all kind of weighing down on my mind and probably what's left of my soul. I needed something on the lighter side in order to balance out my darkening mood. I probably could have escaped to the movie theater, since I plan on watching the Conan and Fright Night remakes this week, but alas, an upcoming garage sale seems to require an entire four days of prep work. Confused? Me, too. Even more confusing is the fact that "we" (by which I likely mean me) will be parking my butt out in the sun for this thing from Thursday to frigging Sunday.
Anyways, when I saw The Little Mermaid in my DVD collection and confirmed I hadn't written about it, I knew I had my, um, huckleberry. It is arguably the most girlie Disney movie ever released. Don’t get me wrong, there are no shortages of “princess” movies, which a trip to any store that sells Disney merchandise can prove. EVERYTHING in this movie is aimed at the little girl portion of the audience, although strangely, the Hans Christian Andersen tale this is inspired by is not quite so thoroughly feminine. But then, in THAT tale, the little mermaid suicides and turns into sea foam… or that’s how I remember the end of the story. It’s been a long time. It boggles my mind how the "imagineers" over at Disney could spin a yarn that's all romance and priests doing things that might be considered inappropriate from the material they had in hand.
But, The Little Mermaid isn’t without its charms. For me, a dyed-in-the-wool Disney fan, it represents a MAJOR shift in gears from the crap that was released in the mid- and late-80s, beginning with The Black Cauldron, which I reviewed in May, and ending with either Oliver & Company or The Great Mouse Detective in 1987 or '88. The animation feels truer, more three dimensional, the stories are more involved (although they still can’t help but making half the characters talking animals), and the music gets a serious upgrade. The colors are... perfect. They are worked so finely that I never fail to get sucked in to the talking fish and her evil minions as they go through this adventure.
When this came out, I avoided seeing it. I was 12, a boy, and just too cool to go see a cartoon about a talking fish, even if it was a Disney talking fish with shells covering up her boobs. I eventually got around to seeing this on VHS during the film’s original release, and was hooked… no pun intended. Ursula, the antagonist of the piece, is one of my favorite Disney villains, but I’m wondering why her body was octopus in lieu of the generic fish all the other merfolk rocked. Any ideas?
There’s no reason for folks not to see this movie. It’s fun, remarkably well made, and quite frankly, never fails to improve my mood, despite it's girlie tendencies. Check it out.