The Little Mermaid (1989) Movie Review
After the first generation of Disney Princesses, Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora, Disney took a step back in creating new princesses. I am not sure if it is because making such an influential character takes time. It wasn't until 30 years after the success of Sleeping Beauty that the company started to make a princess movie.
The first-generation princesses were like damsels in distress that fell in love with a prince. This time, she is already a princess and lives under the sea.
The Little Mermaid starts under the Atlantic Ocean in the kingdom of Atlantica. A young 16-year-old Ariel is dissatisfied with her aquatic life and fascinated by the world above them. She is friends with Flounder, a fish, and Scuttle, a seagull who gives her information about the humans. She also collects artifacts that she stashes in her house. Her father, King Triton, does not want any interactions between the merpeople and humans. One day, Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian, a court composer, travel across the ocean to watch the birthday party of Prince Eric aboard a sailing ship. A violent storm swept through and destroyed the ship. Ariel saved the Prince but was able to escape before she was discovered. Prince Eric didn't see her but remembered her singing voice. After Triton discovers that she interacted with a human, he goes to Ariel's grotto and destroys her artifacts. Heartbroken, Ariel was convinced by Flotsam and Jetsam to visit Ursula, an evil witch.
Ursula deals with Ariel to transform her into a human for three days in exchange for her voice. Within three days, she must receive the "true love's kiss" from a prince to permanently become a human; otherwise, she will belong to Ursula. She must do everything so the Prince will recognize her and win his heart for the "true love's kiss."
Jon Musker and Ron Clements direct this film. It also features the voices of Jodi Benson as Ariel and Christopher Daniel Barnes as Prince Eric.
The Little Mermaid's soundtrack is so influential that even today, its songs are still being played. It's like a broadway musical played under the ocean. No wonder why the song "Under the Sea" won Best Original Song during the 62nd Academy Awards.
I honestly don't think that the characters here are easily likable, except for Flounder and Sebastian, in my opinion. I like Ariel as a Disney Princess, but I don't want her as a role model. She is still influential like other princesses. I like Ursula as a villain. She is intimidating, and her presence stood out for me. If you played the Kingdom Hearts video game, she is one of the most challenging bosses in the franchise.
The story is quite enjoyable. It is simple, and you will instantly get hooked on all the music and animation if you are a kid. Still, I wouldn't say I like Ariel's decision to become human, though.
What makes this film unique for me is the feeling that Disney elevated its animation technology. It may not compare to today's standards, but I feel like they challenged themselves, especially with all those underwater swimming motions. It is a far cry from the previous Disney Princess movie, Sleeping Beauty (1959).
Undoubtedly, the character and the film's legacy are undeniable. I have the utmost respect for what the film has accomplished even after more than 20 decades since it first premiered. From theme park decorations and cosplays to video games, The Little Mermaid stood the test of time. Several live-action theater plays and memorabilia were examples of the influence it garnered in pop culture. It may have also inspired some other mermaid movies or TV Shows.
The film deserves 4 out of 5 stars.