MOVIE REVIEWS: The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989)

The Little Mermaid

There’s no question that Walt Disney Animated Studios has given us some memorable and impactful films for nearly 80 years. There are iconic films that have definitely stood against the passage of time. One of those films is the picture that sparked the Disney Renaissance of the late ’80s/1990s, The Little Mermaid. It grossed over $212 million in the box office upon its release, and people are still talking about it 15 years after its cinematic premier. But how good is it? What’s good and bad about the film? That’s what this review is going to answer!

Since this is my first Disney review, let me tell you the 5 categories I will judge these movies on: the animation, the songs and music, the romance, the characters, and the story. With that being said, let’s start the review!

ANIMATION: The animation is one of the best things about the movie. It looks absolutely beautiful! Whether you like the movie or dislike this film, you can look at the animation and tell why it sparked the Disney Renaissance. The lighting, the colors, the fluent movement of the characters, the lining – it is just amazing. In some cases, it does look a bit dated, though. I think that might depend on what you’re watching the film on. If you’re watching a video release, of course it’ll look old. If you have a newly remastered DVD or Blu-Ray version, the movie might not look like it was made in the ’80s. I don’t know, there’s something about the way it was drawn and some of the shots that reads “1989” to me. Even then, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It still looks fantastic! If you can’t admire anything else in this movie, you should definitely admire the animation! The Little Mermaid Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: As with most Disney movies, the songs are some of the most memorable things about this movie. This is the first Disney film that has Broadway/showtune-type songs, and, apparently, it worked really well. It’s important to note that the songs were brought to us by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. These two had great success on Broadway and in Hollywood with some great hits, including the ever so popular musical, Little Shop of Horrors! Needless to say, I think they knew what makes a good musical, and they definitely brought it to this movie! Let’s talk about the songs one at a time:
1) Daughters of Triton: Oh yeah, that was a thing…Man, that song is forgettable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhAPACQRr_w
2) Part of Your World/(Reprise): Ah, yes, one of the famous Disney “I Want” songs. Well, I must say, this is not a bad song. It does one of the things a song in a musical should do; it tells us how a character is feeling and what he/she wants. We clearly learn what Ariel is feeling and she obviously tells us what she wants…Though am I the only one who is tired of hearing characters use the phrase “I want more?” Could you clarify a bit what you mean by that? But I digress. She actually does tell us what she wants. The music is memorable. The tune is enjoyably catchy, and the orchestrations are great as well. I don’t enjoy the lyrics as much, but that’s not Howard Ashman’s fault. We’ll talk about that later.

3) Under the Sea: I wonder what the reasoning was for putting this song in the movie. It doesn’t do anything for the story or characters. We don’t learn about anyone, it doesn’t reveal anything, and we already know we’re in the sea; thus the song isn’t really needed. However, it is a lot of fun. The lyrics, the music, the tune, the singers – it’s all way too enjoyable. This is the movie’s Number One song for a reason. Everyone knows this song, most people love this song. While it’s not my favorite song, I have to admit I like this song as well…And it won the movie an Oscar.

4) Poor Unfortunate Souls: YEAH MAN! This song kicks butt! It’s just an incredible, awesome villain song – an incredible, awesome song period! THIS is my favorite song in the movie! It’s sung by a great character (who we’ll get to later), the lyrics are creative, and the music is wonderful! Not only that, but it does what songs in musicals are supposed to do: it progresses the story. We see Ursula convincing Ariel to go along with this obviously evil plan. Because of the lyrics and the pacing, we see Ursula’s menacing spirit, so one could argue it gives us character development as well. I love this song! It’s awesome!

5) Les Poissons: Like “Under the Sea,” I have to ask why was this song put in the movie? This song REALLY has nothing to do with anything. The character who sings this song is only shown twice in the movie, during this scene and again at the end. Not only that, but I really don’t remember it or enjoy it that much. It’s not bad, it’s just unnecessary. However, many people do enjoy this song, so maybe there is something there. As a stand alone song, I guess it’s alright. As a song in a musical, though, it’s definitely filler and could have been taken out.

6) Kiss the Girl: There’s not a whole lot I can say about this song. Unlike the last song, this is kind of necessary. It’s also beautiful to watch and listen to. It sounds nice, we see a romance happening, and it was even nominated for an Oscar.

ROMANCE: I don’t really know how to judge the romance in this movie. On one hand, Ariel fell in love with Eric at first sight. This, as we know, is a cliché that has been forsaken long ago, but that’s how Ariel falls in love. And, yes, I know Ariel spends time with Eric later, but did her feelings change at all? Did she love Eric more when she spent time with him? Not really. The same feelings she had for Eric at the beginning of the movie are the exact same feelings she has for him throughout the entire film. So…yeah, it seems pretty stupid in that regards. On the other hand, however, they do have a nice connection when they are together. It is rather nice just watching these two spend time together. As a matter of fact, it’s peculiar how Eric falls for Ariel since she can’t talk. It’s so strange, yet somehow charming. I give the romance a 6 out of 10.
The Little Mermaid Romance

CHARACTERS: I do have mixed feelings about the characters as a whole in this film, so let’s talk about them from first to worst:
1) Ursula – I LOVE Ursula! Gosh, if she were real, I’d marry her! If you read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains essay, you know this character is my second favorite Disney villain! She has attitude, she’s sassy, she’s direct, she’s an over-the-top drama queen! Not only that, but she’s menacing, conniving, and downright evil! I love it! I love her! For more details, go read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains essay.
The Little Mermaid Ursula
2) Sebastian and Scuttle – I put these two together because I have the same thing to say about the both of them: they’re fine. They’re supportive of our main character and the story, and they can have some funny moments. There are times I find them annoying, but they never become too annoying or unbearable. They’re not the best, but they’re not the worst either. They’re fine.
The Little Mermaid SebastianThe Little Mermaid Scuttle
3) Eric – I always say that Eric is like the earlier Disney princes, except he can talk. I don’t feel like I get a character from him. He’s nice and all, but what is he outside of that? What does he do? What does he enjoy? The later Disney princes (like Naveen and Flynn) definitely have a lot more character and personality to them. Eric? No, I’m still trying to figure out who he is.
The Little Mermaid Eric
4) Flounder – I don’t like Flounder. Why? First of all, he’s too cute. His design, his voice, his gestures and actions, his face – UGH! It’s too much! Secondly, I don’t like how he never says, “Hey, Ariel, maybe we shouldn’t do this! Didn’t your father say not to go to the land?” There’s not one moment in the film he thinks of the rule King Triton made. He just goes along with Ariel’s foolishness, and it’s annoying. Speaking of the king…
The Little Mermaid Flounder
5) King Triton – I didn’t see this film until the summer of last year, 2013. Prior to my seeing it, I heard a lot of people say how great King Triton is. I was expecting a sort of pre-Mufasa character: a great and loveable king and father. And…I sort of got that. My only problem with Triton is that the movie never gives us a reason why he doesn’t want Ariel to go to the surface. We as the audience have to relate to why he feels so strongly about this, and we’re never told what his motivation is for keeping Ariel under water. That makes him look really weak, and that’s not what I wanted from him. I like him, but there’s no reason for his actions, at least none the movie offers. And, I’m sorry, that’s really lame.
The Little Mermaid King Triton
6) Ariel – Alright, let’s get into it. I dislike Ariel with a passion. She’s selfish! If she had an option to take anything back, I don’t think she would! Why? Because not only did she know what she was doing (deliberately going behind her father’s back and disobeying him), but she got everything she wanted! Yes, despite her rebellion and causing so much trouble for everyone around her, she still got her precious Happily Ever After! What the crud? Her song “Part of Your World,” though it sounds nice, is basically her just whining about not being content with anything she has; and she won’t be satisfied until she has more! It wouldn’t bother me as much if it weren’t for the fact that Ariel is the main character – the character we’re supposed to learn from and identify with! What does she teach us? “Hey kids! If you do the opposite of what your parents say, you’ll live happily ever after! They’re just parents! Just because they’re older than you doesn’t mean they’re smarter or wiser or more experienced than you!” I’m not asking for her to be perfect, but I don’t think she learned a lesson in this film. When she apologizes to her father towards the end, I think she was saying that because Ursula caught her. If she didn’t mean any of the trouble she caused, she wouldn’t have caused it.
The Little Mermaid Ariel

STORY: I must admit, I’ve never read or heard the original Hans Christian Andersen version of this story, so I can’t really compare this movie to its original source material. On paper, the story is fine. It’s good, in fact. It’s interesting, and I want to follow it. I do have one problem with it, however, although this is more so a problem with the movie and not necessarily the story (if that makes any sense). What is the message of the film? I won’t harp on it again, but I don’t like what the movie is saying about teenagers making their own decisions or parenting or love. Between the message and Ariel, I find great and fantastic fault with this movie.
The Little Mermaid Story

CONCLUSION: Based on my annoyances with Ariel and the message, you’d think I’d hate this movie, right? Well, in all honesty, I don’t…I cannot for the life for me bring myself to say I like this movie, but I don’t hate it either. I think the reason for that is the good things I mentioned before are too good. The animation is great. The songs as a whole are good. The romance is enjoyable. Ursula is incredible, and worth the price of admission! In fact, I would like the movie a lot more if Ursula won! I think this movie is a guilty pleasure for me. I do find myself coming back to it often. However, the problems I have with it are some pretty big problems. If you like this film, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just have my own reservations about it. If the same things that bother me also bother you, this is not the movie for you.
The Little Mermaid 2

Reviews!

Hee-lo!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to analyze entertainment. There are a lot of current and nostalgic movies and television shows. I love analyzing to find out why they are good or why they are bad. Because of that, I will be publishing some reviews! With that being said, let me say right now that I am by no means a critic! I have some understanding of cinema as an art, but I don’t study it like I study other art forms, like theatre. However, I do have my own opinions about these pictures that I’d love to share. If you disagree with any of my reviews/opinions, that’s fine! That doesn’t mean either of us are stupid, it just mean we don’t share the same opinion. That’s what makes us different and unique. With that being said, be on the lookout for some reviews!
—Bro. B.I.B.
—BOOYIKA!

A Dead Life

***This was written on October 7, 2014***

The air in my lungs is gone
My heart no longer beats
The feeling in my body is absent
I am cold as ice
I have no soul
No control over the darkness that surrounds me
This deadly plague that bounds me
I am condemned to a prison with no air
No warmth, no care
No windows or light that I may see at night
I am bound, yet there are no walls
I am caged, but there aren’t any bars
I lower my head and accept the truth:
I am dead
That is what I am without You
What is life if You are not here?
What is its worth if You’re not near?
Every morning I open my door to be greeted by depression
Recession
Agression
And I must make the confession that I want to die
Why?
Because living without You is like waking up to a morning where the sun forgot to rise,
Walking through the forest, and the birds deny you their chirping and singing
Not being able to hear the most pleasant chimes ringing
Playing a song with no music, but its lyrics so abusive
Going through an entire year in which the seasons never change,
It’s always the same
And it drains the life from me to live without You

(c) October 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Hell

***This was written on September 23, 2014***

Dare you justly want to go
To the home far deep below
Of those who run, denounce, or shun
That! which yearns their dear hearts so?

Your skin will crawl and melt and peel.
The demons will pierce you through your heel.
They’ll stab and rape your flesh to scrapes.
They beat whatever else you may feel.

The chorus of billions shrieking terrorous cries,
The pit of the fallen to their demise,
Blood becomes wine for some to dine,
For they love the horrified fear in your eyes.

If pure wickedness lies in your core,
You set fire to your flesh like never before,
It is hate you love, you despise what’s Above,
You’ll receive all of this and much, much more.

(c) September 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

When Was the Last Time?

***This was written on July 21, 2014***

Jesus, when was the last time I stopped to say “Thank You?”
When did I last show gratitude for the many things You do?
May I never get too busy to thank You for shining You Light
You allowed me to see this day when I shouldn’t have made it through the night
I’m not strong enough to make it on my own
When I thought I didn’t have a friend, You showed me I’m not alone
Yes, God. I just wanted to say thank You.

Jesus, when was the last I stopped to praise You?
Throughout all the situations I faced, You always brought me through.
When was the last time I acknowledged Your goodness toward me?
You gave me feet to walk, hands to touch, ears to hear, and eyes to see.
You’ve looked out for me more than I’ve looked out for myself.
Even when I don’t realize it, You’re there surrounding me with Your care.
Once I fell You gave me Your Hand, and I had the strength to stand.
So when I lift my hands and a smile spreads throughout my face,
Know that I’m praising You for Your incredible, amazing Grace!
Oh, yes. I will stop to praise You!

Jesus, when was the last time I stopped to say “I love You?”
“You’re first in my life, there is no one above You?”
I love You because You first loved me.
There’s no debating after seeing Your sacrifice on Calvary.
You, the Son of God, the Son of Man,
Hung on a tree with thorns in Your head and nails in Your Hands;
Blood pouring down Your Face, pain running through Your body.
You went through all of this just for me?
A sinner who isn’t worth 2 cents?
A worm?
A slimball?
A wretch?
For me?
Knowing that it should have been me on that cross,
Pierced in both sides, having a worthless life to be lost –
You knew I should have been cast down into Hell with my soul burning in sufferage,
And yet You died in my place?
There was nothing I did to deserve Your Grace!
You shouldn’t have done it, didn’t have to do it,
BUT YOU DID!!!
I love You, Jesus!
If I didn’t say it before, I’ll say it now: I love You!

HALLELUJAH! BOOYIKA!

(c) July 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Let’s Go

***This was written on July 19, 2014***
***This will be performed in Benjamin Isaiah Black’s FINALE: Curtain Call***

BRO. B.I.B.
Ever have that moment where everything feels all wrong?
You wake up one morning and your smile is gone?
At first you can’t explain it. “What’s going on here?”
But after delving inside, it becomes all too clear.

I can’t turn on anyone else if the problem’s in me.
Who can I blame if I’m the only one in this room, so empty?
I can’t take this anymore, this…discomfort in the air.
I’m afraid I can’t…I’m afraid I…I’m afraid. I’m scared.

In just a short while, I’ll be graduating.
That’s joyous, but I’m in no mood for celebrating.
How can I when I still have a whole life to look forward to?
Now comes the real responsibilities and all the work I have to do.

This is what I’ve been working hard for;
I’ve studied and labored so I can do and have more,
So I can showcase my talents for thousands – millions to see,
So I can praise God with the gifts that He has given me.

But…what if I can’t do it? What if I can’t succeed?
I don’t think people understand that I have a need
And a passion and desire to perform and create.
This is what God wanted me to do, this is why I was made.

If I’m not able to do it, how will I live?
What will I leave the world if I have nothing to give?
Creating and performing – that’s my life! That’s my dream!
I’ll die if I can’t do either one. What will life mean?

LEFT BRO. B.I.B.
Maybe I’m not good enough to accomplish such a feat.
I’m not smart or talented enough. I’m not strong enough, I’m weak.
Something will fail. Something will go awry.
I won’t be able to live with myself. I’m going to die.

BRO. B.I.B.
I’m not weak.
LEFT BRO. B.I.B.
Oh, really? What do you call it, then,
When you vow not to do something, but you do it again?
Or when you say you’ll be better at something, but you don’t put in enough effort?
I prefer the easy way out. I’m afraid to work.

I know I have to trust God, but this seems like a crutch,
Like God will always protect me, so I don’t have to work much.
And how do I know what God wants me to do? I can never hear His Voice.
How will I know whether or not I’m making the right choice?

But, really, how do I know whether or not I’ll be anything great?
Nothing about my current situation says that. Just the thought gives me a headache.
I’m not talented or good enough to stand out.
Better realize it now rather than try, fail, and pout.

What if no one likes me or what I have to bring?
What is no one knows my name, or my art becomes boring?
Is this the maximum of my potential for this life I’m in?
Thus us the life I’ll lead forever? This is all there is?

BRO. B.I.B.
Whenever I’d imagine what my future holds
I thought I’d be living large and happy, not sitting here alone
And scared like a coward, wondering what’s ahead.
How the crud am I supposed to smile when I have so much to dread?

RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
I’m not a coward. Don’t call me out my name.
I don’t need pity or sympathy, and don’t give me any shame.
This is just a common phase for people – feeling nervous, low, and poor.
These aren’t feelings no one else has ever felt before.

BRO. B.I.B.
But what if it’s not a phase? I don’t know what it’s really like out there!
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
I know one thing: God is with me, giving me His Love and care.
Why should I fear life’s curveballs and fast balls and twists, turns, and twirls
When “greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world?”

I’ve got all the Strength and Power I need to make it through the rough times.
BRO. B.I.B.
How can I begin to think I’m strong enough?
LEFT BRO. B.I.B.
That statement carried a lot of pride.
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
If I were talking up my own might, that’d be true;
But you do know I’m not talking about my own strength, don’t you?

Don’t forget about Jesus, what He does or who He is.
If the same God who got up from the grave rests in my heart and lives,
Who’s to say what I can or can’t do, what I can or can’t be?
It doesn’t matter who stands in my way, not even me.

BRO. B.I.B.
That’s not true. I could stand in my own way
And keep myself from hearing anything God has to say,
Or stop myself from growing with thoughts of doubt.
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
That’s right! Which is why that negative mentality has got to go out.

Jesus will bless you greatly – He doesn’t have any limitations.
He’ll take you farther than you ever thought possible, and bring you through hellish situations.
But you have to know and believe for no one else but you
What God is able to do.

BRO. B.I.B.
Well, He didn’t create me because He had nothing better to do.
He has a purpose for my life.
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
You know that to be true.
BRO. B.I.B.
I know it’s safe in here. Out there, it’s unpredictable and scary.
But “if God is for me, who can be against me?”

Jesus, I may not know what’s going to happen next,
But You carried me when I was going through before, and You’ll bring me through the rest.
May I never stray away from You, but may I constantly grow.
I’m ready for what You have for me. Let’s go.

(c) July 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.