The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is the beginning of the Disney Renaissance. I expected the movie to feel very different than the older ones. I expected it to be more modern and feel like something from a new era. Although there were hints of that, the movie itself felt older than many of the others from the same time period. This movie was based on a story that Walt Disney had intended on putting into a package film earlier, but ultimately it got nixed. The idea that Walt had championed the story at some point made this feel a little more like a throwback.
The story was written by Hans Christian Andersen marking Disney’s return to fairy tales. This is a piece that the few movies before hand were really missing. Disney had moved to cover more literary stories, Great Mouse Detective, Black Cauldron, Oliver and Company… Moving back to a fairy tale brought that last piece of Disney magic back into the films.
Truly there are a few characters and a bunch of flat one-dimensional ones. Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder, Ursula… Those were all well developed and interesting characters but Triton, Eric, any of the random mer-people or humans in the film are all boring and have no depth.
The animation is strange. The opening sequence and some of the underwater stuff feels very reminiscent of early Disney, almost Fantasia like. But during the songs like “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the girl” we start to see that flair for fun that more modern movies have. This one sits in a strange place that almost ties the two eras together.
The music is phenomenal here. Song after song is memorable and funny. They are very memorable and most of them are on some kind of rotation in Disney playlists. “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea” were both nominated for best song as was the score. But there are other memorable songs in the movie like “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, “Part of Your World”, and “Les Poissons” are all great and help keeping the film from feeling too slow.
The biggest issue with The Little Mermaid is the pacing. We spend over half the movie under the water. It take forever to build the story, then in the last forty minutes Ariel makes the deal, spends time on land, Ursula tricks her, there is a wedding, a fight, another wedding. It spirals out of control trying to tell 90% of the story in 40% of the film. But with that said it is a good movie, one of the better ones if not as good as I remembered.
Run Time – 83 Minutes
62nd Academy Awards – 3 Nominations – 2 Wins
Best Original Score – Won
Best Original Song – “Kiss the Girl” – Nominated
Best Original Song – Won
Disney Animated Canon so far in order of Quality
1. Lady and the Tramp 6-22-1955
2. Peter Pan 2-5-1953
3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 3-11-1977
4. One Hundred and One Dalmatians 1-25-1961
5. Dumbo 10-23-1941
6. The Fox and the Hound 7-10-1981
7. Oliver and Company 11-18-1988
8. Cinderella 2-15-1950
9. The Little Mermaid 11-17-1989
10. Pinocchio 2-7-1940
11. Sleeping Beauty 1-29-1959
12. The Adventure of Ichabod and Mr. Toad 10-5-1949
13. The Jungle Book 10-18-1967
14. The Great Mouse Detective 7-2-1986
15. Robin Hood 11-8-1973
16. Make Mine Music 4-20-1946
17. Fun and Fancy Free 9-27-1947
18. The Aristocats 12-11-1970
19. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 12-21-1937
20. Saludos Amigos 8-24-1942
21. The Sword in the Stone 12-25-1963
22. The Rescuers 6-22-1977
23. Alice in Wonderland 7-26-1951
24. The Black Cauldron 7-24-1985
25. Melody Time 5-27-1948
26. Bambi 8-13-1942
27. Fantasia 11-13-1940
28. The Three Caballeros 12-21-1944