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The Little Mermaid (1989)

Under the sea and beyond your imagination

Directed by:

Ron Clements & John Musker

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 83 minutes

UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

14 years before ‘Finding Nemo’ splashed into cinemas, ‘The Little Mermaid’ had already taught us that it is indeed better, down where it’s wetter.

This delightful Disney-fied adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the same name still holds its own after all these years of advancements in animation. It’s partly because the studio really pushes the boat out, as it were, when it comes to getting the visuals right. But it’s also because this is a great story, with a strong female lead, a nice array of supporting characters, suspense and romance in all the right places and some better-than-decent tunes.

Jodi Benson does a fantastic job as the voice of Ariel, the “little mermaid” of the title (actually, she’s 16 so not really all that little). For reasons we can only hazard a guess at, she longs to leave her deep sea life behind her and live up-top with the human types. So, despite the strong advice of King Triton (who’s also her dad), she makes a deal with the tentacled seahag Ursula which involves swapping her voice for a pair of legs. The catch? She’s got to get the handsome and unfortunately-named Prince Eric to snog her before the sun goes down on the third day, or she’ll be tossed back into the sea like an old trout. Of course, it goes without saying that pop’s gonna chuck a wobbler when he finds out.

The colourful and imaginative backdrops make for a visual treat, particularly in the underwater scenes, whilst the characters are much better written than many of their counterparts from other Disney flicks of the period. Perhaps the only exception to that is witchy woman Ursula, who’s a bit like Madam Mim from ‘The Sword and the Stone’ only without the comedy value. And you can’t help but wonder why, if she’s such a great sorceress, she doesn’t use some of that magic to make herself vaguely presentable instead of living her life as some sort of aquatic Grotbags.

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It's Got: Peter Andre singing (to use a term loosely) as the end credits roll. Peter Andre! Whatever happened to him?!

It Needs: A considerably better range of extras to make the DVD truly worth the purchase. Surely there must be some snippets and featurettes out there that could be included?

DVD Extras Some suggestions of other DVDs to buy. Incredibly, all of them just happen to be other Disney movies. Coincidence or what? DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Finding Nemo, Splash

Summary

Watery good fun.

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