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"THE LITTLE MERMAID"
(1989) (voices of Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes) (G)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None None Moderate *Mild Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Moderate None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
*Minor Minor Mild Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Children's Animated: A mermaid turned human has three days to get a handsome prince to kiss her before she turns back into a mermaid and loses her soul to an underwater witch.
PLOT:
Ariel (voice of JODI BENSON) is a headstrong sixteen-year-old mermaid whose father just so happens to be King Triton (voice of KENNETH MARS), the ruler of the "Mer" people. Ariel is fascinated with the world above the sea's surface and is curious about the many artifacts she's collected from shipwrecks. She longs to be a human and along with friends Flounder (voice of JASON MARIN) and Scuttle (voice of BUDDY HACKETT), a seagull, she occasionally pops up to the surface for a quick look around. Triton is furious over this, for he thinks that humans are barbarians and dangerous to the Mer people. So he assigns the court composer, Sebastian the crab (voice of SAMUEL E. WRIGHT) to watch over her.

He's horrified to find that Ariel has fallen in love with Prince Eric (voice of CHRISTOPHER DANIEL BARNES), a human she saved from a shipwreck. Her attraction to the above water world continually grows, while Prince Eric longs for the mysterious woman with the beautiful singing voice who saved him. Despondent and knowing that her father will try to stop her by any means, Ariel accepts an interesting, but very dangerous invitation from Ursula (voice of PAT CARROLL), an underwater witch. Ursula transforms Ariel into a human in exchange for her beautiful voice, and for Ariel's soul should she not be able to get the prince to kiss her within three days. Thus Ariel and her friends must race against time to make that kiss happen, while Ursula does what she can to prevent it.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Although this film was originally released in 1989, most younger kids won't know that and will think it's another new Disney feature. Thus, many preteens probably will want to see this.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: G
For not containing any material that would warrant a higher rating.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
This is an animated feature, so the factor of these characters being role models is questionable. Still, other than Ursula who's obviously the villain, the other main characters are probably okay role models, with the exception of Ariel's stubbornness and refusal to follow her father's rules (which many teenagers do anyway).
CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
This 1989 release was the film that brought Disney back to the forefront of producing animated features. While it's not as good as Disney's best animated effort to date, "Beauty & The Beast," nor as complex and epic as their most successful feature, "The Lion King," this film is still a joy to watch. Perhaps what makes it so is that it is fluff, a saccharin-filled feature that's light and airy, and not weighed down by the more adult-oriented themes present in many of Disney's more recent offerings. This film is meant purely to entertain, and it wonderfully succeeds at that. It also gives you the impression that those who made the film had as much fun producing it as the audience does watching it.

Featuring a wonderful score (that won an Oscar), the movie contains several great songs, chief among them "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl," both of which were nominated for 1989's Best Song of the Year ("Under the Sea" won). The first collaboration of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman on an animated film, this movie reestablished the animated musical genre, and paved the way for Disney's later, and more commercially successful films. Ashman's death in 1991 severely impacted the quality of Disney's later animated scores ("Aladdin" being the last film they worked on together). While the more recent scores & songs have been adequate and occasionally successful, hearing the work in this film again only reminds one of how good those musical artists were together.

Based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale, the story has been "Disneyfied," with the plot slightly changed and additional characters thrown into the mix. It's also interesting to see the characters of Ariel and Eric and their mannerisms showing up in several of the latter films' main characters (Belle from "Beauty" looks much like Ariel -- the now standard doe-eyed, slim in the waist and increasingly buxom women -- and we can see many of Eric's expressions and mannerisms in Aladdin from the similarly named movie). The animation, while obviously not up to par with recent standards, still looks marvelous. When released in 1989, it was a tremendous step forward in animation quality from what had been offered for decades before its release.

While some might complain that the characters are just "sketches" themselves (not in art, but in character depth), one must remember that this is a lighthearted film and that the main character is just a sixteen-year-old girl (and a mermaid at that!). The film isn't intended to be deep and probing, but instead offers a simple story that everyone can easily understand and identify with, and enjoy while watching it. "The Little Mermaid" exceeds at all of that and more. Take your kids and/or yourself to this movie while it's back in the theaters (it's there just through Nov. 30th only) and everyone in your family will have a fun time. We give this film an 8 out of 10.

OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
Much like many other Disney animated films, this one contains a villain whose appearance, behavior and locale may be unsettling (or downright scary) for the youngest of viewers. Also, there are several tense scenes that may have the same impact on those viewers. The rest is pretty much standard fair for such films, but since many younger kids will want to see this, we suggest that you read through the material to decide whether this film is appropriate for them.

ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Ariel is very much a free-spirit. Like many teenagers, she doesn't follow her father's rules or suggestions, and she ruins Sebastian's concert by forgetting that she was the star attraction in it.
  • Some parents might find Ariel's small bikini top outfit (made from clamshells) as a bit too adult for their young kids to see (but nothing sexual in nature happens). They may also dislike the villain portrayed as a fat woman while the other women are relatively buxom, doe-eyed beauties with tiny waists and long flowing hair.
  • Obviously Ursula has both as she claims others' souls for her own good and wants to overthrow Triton.
  • Some viewers may not like the fact that Ursula is a practicing witch and uses spells to gain control over others' souls.
  • Triton destroys Ariel's prized belongings with "lightning bolts" from his scepter because he doesn't like or approve of her "love" for a human.
  • Ariel asks Ursula how she'll be able to attract Eric without her voice. Ursula responds as she swings her hips, "Don't underestimate the importance of body language." The witch then comments that women who hold their tongue get the men and that men don't like conversation anyway. Some parents might not like these stereotypes.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Depending on the age of your children, the following might be rather suspenseful, or not at all.
  • A menacing looking shark chases Ariel and Flounder through a sunken ship (where Flounder also is briefly frightened by a skeleton) and then through the open ocean.
  • Some kids may be frightened by Ursula's octopus appearance and/or that of her moray eel "henchmen."
  • A large storm at night thrashes Prince Eric's boat. Huge waves crash into it, lightning catches a sail on fire and the boat crashes on the rocks. Eric then goes back on board the burning ship to save his dog and gets his foot stuck in a hole as the boat explodes.
  • Triton destroys Ariel's prized belongings with "lightning bolts" from his scepter because he doesn't like or approve of her "love" for a human.
  • Ariel enters Ursula's cave-like lair that may be a bit scary for younger kids as we see many withered souls, including one that reaches up and momentarily grabs her.
  • Ursula attains Triton's power and grows bigger and bigger (and more menacing looking) and huge waves and dangerous storms develop. She then tries to kill Ariel and Eric.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Gunpowder: Explodes on Eric's ship after it's caught on fire.
  • Kitchen knives & Cleaver: Thrown by a chef at Sebastian.
  • Scepter: Used by Triton, and later Ursula, to throw "lighting bolts" at various people.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Geez," "Nuts" (crazy), "Idiot," "Pipsqueak," and "Little tramp" (what Ursula calls Ariel).
  • Ariel disobeys her father's rules.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • Several scenes are accompanied by a moderate amount of suspenseful music (regarding the youngest of kids -- older preteens probably won't be affected by much of it).
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Some parents might find Ariel's small bikini top outfit (made from clamshells) as a bit too adult for their young kids to see (but nothing sexual in nature happens).
  • Ariel asks Ursula how she'll be able to attract Eric without her voice. Ursula responds as she swings her hips, "Don't underestimate the importance of body language."
  • SMOKING
  • Ariel finds a pipe in a shipwreck that Scuttle believes is a musical instrument.
  • One of Eric's associates lights his pipe and hands it to Ariel thinking that she wants to smoke it. She mistakenly believes it's a musical instrument, however, and blows through it instead.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Ariel and Triton don't agree to her boundaries or the rules he sets for her. There are a few minor arguments ("As long as you live under my ocean, you'll live under my rules") and in one scene he destroys her prized belongings after he learns she's in love with a human. He also tells her she can't see Eric because he's human and she's a mermaid.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Accepting who you are. In this story, Ariel doesn't like the fact that she's a mermaid and wants to be a human with legs. Some might look at this as breaking free of "handicaps" (as in "You can do whatever you want") where others might see it more as not accepting that which you cannot change.
  • Dating (or just being friends with) people who are "different" than yourself. Triton tells Ariel that she can't see Eric because he's human and she's a mermaid. While that's obviously not realistic, it is symbolic of dating people of other nationalities, religions, or races.
  • Ariel asks Ursula how she'll be able to attract Eric without her voice. Ursula responds as she swings her hips, "Don't underestimate the importance of body language." The witch then comments that women who hold their tongue get the men and that men don't like conversation anyway. Some parents might not like these stereotypes.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Eric's ship explodes after a powder keg on board catches on fire.
  • Triton destroys Ariel's prized belongings with "lightning bolts" from his scepter.
  • Sebastian is rolled through a laundry ringer and is knocked around a few other times but is no worse for the wear.
  • Eric's chef throws knives at Sebastian (thinking he's an escaped entree) and also tries to hit him with a cleaver several times.
  • Ursula kicks Eric's dog when she notices that it sees through her disguise.
  • Scuttle and other animals knock Ursula around a ship. She then grabs Scuttle and tries to wring his neck but Eric's dog bites her.
  • Triton zaps Ursula with a "lightning bolt" from his scepter, but she's unharmed. Eric then throws a spear that nicks Ursula's arm.
  • Ursula accidentally zaps her moray eels, disintegrating them.
  • Ursula tries to kill Ariel with "lighting bolts" from her scepter, but Eric impales Ursula with a ship (and its pointy bow), killing her.
  • The chef comes after Sebastian again, but the crab cuts loose a mast that crashes into the chef, knocking out many of his teeth.



  • Reviewed November 3, 1997

    Other new reviews available this week include:

    [Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)] [John Wick] [Ouija] [23 Blast]

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