The Little Mermaid 1989: Not As Good As Remember

The Little Mermaid released in 1989 focuses on Ariel, a young mermaid princess yearning to leave the underwater world and escape her overprotective father, King Triton. She falls in love with a human named Eric and becomes consumed with the desire to experience life on the surface. Her wish is granted but at a cost, thanks to the evil sea witch Ursula. Ariel’s deal endangers both the underwater and surface worlds, and it’s up to her and her friends to stop the witch and unite both realms.

The Little Mermaid 1989 Characters/ Roast

Ariel (Jodi Benson) is a rebellious 16-year-old mermaid who yearns to leave the sea and live as a human alongside the first man she encounters, who happens to be a prince. Ariel’s infatuation with him leads her to take risks, and her attractiveness often allows her to get away with things others wouldn’t. She collects various items from the surface world, including a statue of the prince salvaged from a shipwreck. The final push to go to the surface comes when her father destroys her belongings after discovering her secret hideout. Seeking Ursula’s help, Ariel enters into a deal that involves her obtaining true love’s kiss within three days or becoming the sea witch’s possession.

She also must sacrifice her voice, and her decision to sign with her eyes closed seems naïve. Despite the challenging circumstances of transforming into a human while underwater, Ariel manages to survive. Once on land, her plan to captivate the prince succeeds without her uttering a word, leaving him speechless. Ariel’s young age in the movie raises questions about her actions and attractiveness, and it’s a bitter realization that she is only remembered for her voice after saving a man near death.

Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) is King Triton’s right-hand crab and the concertmaster of Atlantica, bringing music to the underwater world. His role shifts to watching over Ariel and keeping her out of trouble, although he doesn’t always succeed. After Ariel strikes a deal with Ursula, Sebastian follows her to the surface world. He contemplates informing her father but ultimately decides to help her fulfill her mission. During his adventure, he unexpectedly finds himself in a kitchen, engaging in a showdown with a French chef and emerging victorious. Sebastian has become the second most recognizable character in The Little Mermaid due to his distinctive accent and memorable singing performance.

Flounder (Jason Marin) is Ariel’s loyal best friend who tends to be easily frightened. Despite his timid nature, he struggles to protect Ariel and often inadvertently gets her into more trouble. He may not be a fish to fight side by side with, but he provides essential support with bandages and nursing when needed, albeit in an annoying way.

Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes) embodies the stereotypical Disney prince—handsome, kind, and willing to fight for the woman he loves. It’s noteworthy that an entire song is dedicated to him mustering the courage to overcome his shyness and kiss a 16-year-old girl. The fact that he wears the same outfit throughout the movie until the end doesn’t contribute to his character development.

King Triton (Kenneth Mars) rules over Atlantica and possesses a strong, protective demeanor. However, his efforts to act tough in front of his daughter crumble when he begins questioning if he has been too hard on her. One wonders how he became the father of seven daughters without having nerves of steel. Ariel must have been the cutest of the bunch because he folded easily for her. To save Ariel, Triton even offers himself to Ursula, risking both the surface and underwater worlds. While King Triton’s love for his daughter is evident, the film takes a roundabout route for him to learn a lesson and grant Ariel the freedom to live her life on land. In the end, he gives her exactly what she wanted. Triton appears to have lived for centuries, leaving many questions unanswered. Why didn’t he go to the surface himself? Why didn’t he save Ariel’s mother? And just how much can he bench-press?

Ursula (Pat Carroll) is the diva witch of the seven seas. She keeps a watchful eye on Ariel through her eels, similar to how Odin watches through his owls. Ursula mocks Ariel’s character, highlighting the goofiness that surrounds her. With her heavy makeup and sassy demeanor, she somewhat resembles a drag show performer. Her face even bears a resemblance to Hades from Hercules.  Ursula is often referred to as a demon and may worship an underwater Lucifer, but she remains straightforward in her dealings.

She clearly states the terms of her deals from the beginning, leaving it up to her victims to fulfill their end or face the consequences. However, she conveniently omits the fact that she may manipulate the situation to ensure their failure. Ursula employs a spell to become attractive and uses Ariel’s voice to seduce Eric, making her intentions more sinister. Compared to Ariel’s more “innocent” approach, Ursula’s seduction lacks any emotional connection and reduces Eric to a pawn. Ariel and her friends ultimately interrupt the wedding, exposing Ursula’s true evil intention to seize Triton’s power and rule the ocean. Ursula briefly achieves her goal, growing to the size of Godzilla, but before she can inflict significant damage, Eric steers a ship into her, ending her life. Ursula meets her demise like a true gangster, taking the ship down with her.

The Little Mermaid 1989 Thoughts

The Little Mermaid 1989 leaves much to be desired compared to my younger years’ perception. The characters that were initially portrayed as good turn out to be annoying, manipulative, or outright crazy, and this doesn’t even include Ursula. Ariel, far from a wallflower, exhibits behavior that might have crossed boundaries in a less restrained Disney movie. The anticipation surrounding the remake gives the impression that the original is one of the greatest films of all time, but that’s not the case. It heavily echoes the vibes of “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” with a runtime of 1 hour and 23 minutes and musical scenes directed by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. The movie tells its necessary story and wraps up efficiently. In my opinion, the standout song is “Under the Sea,” where all the animals join in, creating a lively party atmosphere.

I don’t believe any remake can surpass the original in terms of charm. While the animation may appear dated, the timeless techniques used in the film will never go out of style. The Kingdom of Atlantica is beautifully depicted and, to be honest, looks more appealing than the surface kingdom. However, the overall story itself is somewhat goofy. loosely based on the tales by Hans Christian Andersen, which were known for not having happy endings. The filmmakers deserve credit for injecting creativity into the adaptation, but ultimately remains an average Disney princess film.

The Little Mermaid 1989 Score 4.5 out of 10

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