Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
This is one of those girl movies like Cinderella, in which the girl falls in love and wants to marry the object of her affection. However, Ariel is much more than a young woman waiting for Prince Charming to sweep hero off of her - um, fins?
This cartoon feature is only very loosely based on the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.
Ariel (voice by Jodi Benson) refuses to sit at home waiting for a man to come along and marry her. This youngest daughter of King Triton is lonely and bored in her undersea home, so she goes out looking for adventure.
When a fierce storm wrecks Prince Erics ship, Ariel meets her first human. She rescues him and falls in love with him.
She wants to visit the humans who live on the land, but her father hates those barbaric fish eaters. He destroys his daughters little cave of treasures, which consist of artifacts from the human world.
Ariel visits Ursula, the old hag that her father banished from his kingdom, and she makes a deal that she will come to regret. Ursula agrees to use her magical powers to allow Ariel to visit the humans, but she is an evil witch who wants revenge.
If you are too young to remember the awesome animation of Disneys Sleeping Beauty on the big screen, then you will think that this animated feature is just as good as the newer classics, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Trust me, those are not the classics and do not meet the standards of founder Walt Disney. Even Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella and Bambi, while not as lavish as Sleeping Beauty, put the Disney animated features of the past thirty years to shame.
Although the underwater scenes in The Little Mermaid are gorgeous, the lighting is very good and the storm scene is awesome, the overall animation simply is not up to the standards of early Disney features. The colors are rich and varied, and some of the scenes do have depth, but many scenes look flat and hastily drawn.
In fact, it actually uses some drawings from earlier films. For example, Carlotta, Eric's maid at the castle who bathes Ariel and serves dinner, was lifted out of Cinderella, and she is even wearing the same outfit, except for the scarf on her head. A few of the backgrounds used during the "Kiss the Girl" scene are taken from The Rescuers. At the beginning of "Kiss the Girl," the reeds blowing in the wind are taken from a 1937 short, The Old Mill. The King and Grand Duke from Cinderella both appear in Eric's ostensible wedding to Vanessa.
My favorite character is Scuttle the seagull, with his voice by comedian Buddy Hackett. Sebastian the crab, Flounder the fish and Louis the lobster are also delightful. I was not all that impressed with Ariel and Prince Eric. In fact, s the movie progressed, I came to like the villain Ursula/Vanessa more.
This was the last Disney feature to use hand painted cells and real camera work with real film. Even so, it is not up to the standards of earlier Disney animation. They employed Chinese students to draw the millions of bubbles, and they did not use any of the veteran Disney animators to do the drawing or hand painting.
The wedding scene was one of the first use of CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) in a Disney feature. All the later Disney features use CAPS instead of hand painting.
The calypso style musical number Under the Sea won an Academy Award.
Run time 83 minutes
This is a good movie for kids, but do not expect too much from it.
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Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12