My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is great. I like that there is more characterization in the characters and pretty much all of them serve a purpose, the plot is perfectly paced and full, and while the animation is not the best I have seen, it is a nice goodbye to Xerography, and the soundtrack speaks for itself. One issue that I do have is that Ariel learns nothing in the end, and is selfish and entitled, and her relationship with Eric is bleh.
This film started production in 1985; the same time Oliver and Company was, and they were both big projects for the studios, but Oliver and Company was seen as the one that will make more money, and was more important (as well as Who Framed Roger Rabbit). Directors Ron Clements and John Musker was interested in the idea of this project as The Great Mouse Detective was in development, and brought it to a “suggestion meeting”. Work was found in the old files that Walt Disney had, and were designs for a 1930’s adaption of The Little Mermaid, and used it for inspiration.
Alan Menken and Howard Ashamn joined the project in 1987, and the latter decided that it would be best to change the film into a broadway formula, and change Clarence the crab to Sebastian, which is why we have the style of music that is in the film.
This is the last film in the canon to have traditional celled animation and Xerography, as the rest would either be in CGI or use CAPS (which this film had a little of).
Jim Carey auditioned to be Prince Eric, Bea Arthur was first in mind to be Ursula, but she turned it down. Elaine Stritcch was cast as Ursula for a while, but she was removed from the project when she clashed with Ashman and his music style, leading to Pat Carroll getting the part.
So the film starts with Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes) and his sailors talking about King Triton and the mythical mermaids, as they are sailing the sea. A fish escapes the grasp of one of the sailors and swims back to sea, where we are seeing everyone going to Triton (Kenneth Mars)`s castle for a musical dedicated to him, and Ariel (Jodi Benson) is the star, but ends up missing it,which shocks everyone and angers Triton. She is instead dragging Flounder (Jason Marin) with her on adventures of capturing human artifacts, where they are almost killed by a shark. As they pay a visit to Scuttle (Buddy Hackett), she realizes that she missed the performance and gets into a yelling match with her father about her disobeying him and forgetting her responsibilities.
Triton says that she has done this before, so she had been disobedient for a while now. She runs off to her grotto with her
right hand bitch best friend Flounder following her, and she sings Part of Your World, and I will give credit where credit is due; this is a great song, and it establishes the theme of the movie perfectly. Take note that Ariel just wants more, right? This will set the stage for………..about a decade to 2 decades in animated film.
So it is Eric’s birthday and he is having a jam on the boat. What I find interesting is that there is absolutely no royalty there whatsoever. The studio (Word of God) confirmed that he is 18 years old, and it is his birthday. This means he is actually the youngest Disney Prince, since Aladdin was 18 for the entire film. Anyways, Ariel swims to shore and likes the hot piece of stud she sees. She goes on and on about how beautiful he is, only for his dog to run up to her.
His father figure Grimsby (Ben Wright) gives him an obnoxious present of a statue of Eric, and then mutters about him wanting to give it as a wedding present.
He goes on to explain that he will find his girl and fall in love when he is ready, and when he finds the girl, it will hit him like lightning, with lightning erupting, and causing a fire on the ship. They all escape except for Max, whom Eric goes after. Max is tossed in the sea, and the boat blows up with Eric on it. Ariel does something that is uncommon for Disney Princesses at the time; actually save someone. She brings Eric on the shore and asks Scuttle if he is dead. She sees Eric breathing, and she sings about wanting to be a Part of His World, and he opens his eyes to see a hot girl singing above him, and is now determined to get with the girl who saved him.
So the next morning, Ariel is humming like a lovesick mermaid, which grows curiosity from her 6 sisters and father. Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) (who Triton deemed as her personal supervisor) goes to talk to Ariel, who is trying to meet with Eric. He tries to convince her about staying in the sea via Under The Sea. He brings up some good points; he TELLS HER that they eat fish and their kind, but she does not even listen. He is having too much fun to realize that Flounder got her ungrateful ass to leave. Flounder somehow gets Eric’s statue in her grotto, and she is happy with glee.
Sebastian accidentally spills the beans to Triton when he is asked about who Ariel likes, and he storms over there and gets into ANOTHER fight with her, which ends with him blowing Eric’s statue to pieces. She is crying, and lashes out at Sebastian when he sees her following the eels to go to Ursulas.
So the broad knows that the witch is trouble, but she goes anyways. Ursula convinces her to a deal of trading a voice for 3 days to get Eric to give her the Kiss of True Love, via the amazing Poor Unfortunate Souls. I guess this is to show Ariel’s riskiness and determination, and her being naive, but….I will get to it later. We are midway through the film, and we have action and good pacing.
So Eric is playing Part of Your World on his recorder, but is interrupted when his dog runs to a newly legged Ariel. Sebastian is flipping out, but decides to help her because she will be miserable for the rest of her life (insert eye roll). Eric follows his dog to automatically forget him for the hot tamale in front of him.
So it is time for lunch or dinner and when Ariel comes out in her pink dress, Eric’s jaw dropped and eyes widened. I am a guy, so I know EXACTLY what he was thinking. She is trying to fit in at the dinner, but fails when she combs her hair with a fork and blows a smoker. Eric is encouraged to take her out to town tomorrow, which she happily accepts.
On the second day, they go out to town. They dance, ride the horse, walk around town, and just have a good old time. He thinks she is a bit crazy, but he apparently likes it somehow. They are at the canoes, and Sebastian and the other animals decide to sing Kiss The Girl to get them in the mood. I never knew humans could understand crabs, birds, amphibians, and fish, but whatever. They got close to kissing many times, but Eric gets nervous. When they are finally about to smooch, they are pushed over by Jetsam and Floatsam (Paddi Edwards). Ursula decides that things got too close, and she needs to get dirty.
Grimsby convinces Eric that he need stop give up on the girl that saves him and go after Ariel (who is on the terrace blushing at him)
like falling for a girl that can’t talk and you only want to bone is any better. So on the third morning, Scuttle rushes to Ariel’s room congratulating her on getting married. She rushes downstairs to only see Eric (with Vanessa on his side) demanding things for their wedding that needs to be done for the wedding that will take place ASAP. Like it makes sense for you to rush downstairs for your wedding when he did not put a ring on it. #Dumbass.
Ariel runs off and cries at the dock as everyone goes on the ship to see Eric and Vanessa’s wedding. Scuttle sees Vanessa singing about crushing Ariel and seeing Ursula in the mirror, causing him to realize that Vanessa is Ursula. He swims over to Ariel and the other animals to tell them, and they all swim over the ship. The wedding is stopped and the amulet that holds Ariel’s voice is broken and her voice is hers again.
Her and Eric are about to kiss, but the deal is done, and she turns into a mermaid again. Ursula grabs Ariel and drags her ass to the sea, and then shit gets real when Triton sees them. Because she got caught, she apologized that all of this happened, NOT because of what she did. Ursula offers Triton to take Ariel’s place, and he does, making Ursula queen. So her, Eric, and Ariel gets into a heated battle, but when Ariel is about to get killed, Eric stabs Ursula to her death.
Because Triton feels bad, he turns Ariel into a human, and she rushes into Eric in her sexy silver metallic dress, and he scoops her up to kiss her. They get married with Ariel saying that she loves him and then hops right back to her husband. My issue on the ending is that Ariel never takes full responsibility for her actions or learned anything. They were building up to this, and they barely touch on it. She gets exactly what she wants, despite causing all of this trouble.
While I am not a fan of the main characters, they are not the worst, and I guess it is personal taste. The side characters are pretty good though, and most of the characters are developed enough.
The animation is pretty good. It definitely improved over the past Xerography films, but I also heard that the animators from Who Framed Roger Rabbit worked on this film after that film was finished. The colors were nice, and the animation is very fluid. I am still thankful that CAPS was created. I am praising the animation, but I have seen a lot better, and it does not stand out the most.
Do I even need to discuss the music? The only filler song I can say there is, is the Poissons song. Under the Sea describes the ocean life perfectly, Part of Your World is so emotional and explains the main theme about the movie. All the other songs are great, and Poor Unfortunate Souls explains Ursula`s motivation perfectly, and established the Villain Song more than World`s Greatest Criminal Mind did. The broadway, sea-like theme worked perfectly. The soundtrack charted to 32 on the Billboard charts in 1989.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on November 17, 1989, it made $84,355,863 in the North American box office. What I realized beforehand is that ALL of the predecessors box offices only counted the domestic sales. While initially, this film was seen by the studio to make less money than its immediate predecessor, things changed as the film was concluding production, with Katzenberg thinking it will be the first to make $100,000,000.
It was critically praised. Many said that it deserve to compete with the earliest releases in the canon, and it brought life back to Disney. Many liked that Ariel is the first
not true female to be proactive, as Aurora, Snow, and Cinderella were not proactive. The animal females are NEVER included, since Bianca kicked ass. It was automatically deemed a masterpiece.
It was nominated for 3 Academy Awards in 1990, and the first since The Rescuers to be nominated for an Academy Award, and won for Best Song (Under the sea), and Best Score. The soundtrack won a bunch of awards between 1990-1991, charted at 33 on the charts and the soundtrack was deemed as 2 times Platinum (6 times today)by September 1990, which was a record for animated films.
Well today, it is still as praised as it was in those days. It is the official start of the Disney Renaissance (though it did need help), and one of the first animated films to make $100 million (thanks to rereleases) overall. It broke some records, and it is given credit for bringing a new style of storytelling for animated films. There was a broadway show, many rides in Walt Disney theme parks, 2 sequels, and I am sure I am missing a lot more. This film does really well in merchandise.
= 32.5/40 = 81%