Princess Ariel, the youngest royal mermaid, makes a bargain with the evil sea witch Ursula to swap her lovely voice for legs, desperate to know what life is like on dry land and hopelessly in love with a mortal. She must, however, claim the prince’s heart, or else the contract will be void and she will lose everything.
Review of The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid may have been the catalyst for Disney’s animation renaissance, but in the face of the higher-profile, classic status of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, The Little Mermaid is often overlooked. Which is a shame, because it’s a charming film with all the components that make a Disney experience memorable while being free of the politically correct, formulaic features that have plagued recent releases. Mermaid, set in a vast, magnificent underwater realm, is inspired by Danish tradition (or, at the very least, Hans Christian Andersen), and features the flame-haired Ariel (Benson), the lippy, troublesome youngest daughter of sea ruler Triton (not quite how Andersen envisaged it, presumably).
Ariel, desperate for a ticket to the mainland, bargains her voice to Sea Witch Ursula (Pat Carroll) in exchange for a pair of legs and sets out to win the affection of the pearly-toothed Prince Eric (Barnes), whom she rescued from a violent storm, lest she become Ursula’s prisoner for all time… Little Mermaid was made before Disney began churning out cartoons on a yearly basis, and it draws heavily on the old-fashioned qualities that characterised their classic back catalogue: comedy animals, in this case a swarm of friendly sea creatures (led by the inspired crab creation Sebastian), catchy, even memorable tunes (Under The Sea, Kiss The Girl), and a truly quake-inducing villain in the shape of Ursula. Despite small shortcomings such as the prince being a wet blanket and the inevitable happy ending being a touch too rushed, movie nevertheless delivers exactly the proper amount of laughter, sniffles, scares, and songs to remain dazzling family entertainment.
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