The Little Mermaid

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Ron Clements

REVIEWED: 11-17-97

The holidays are practically upon us, and if you're Disney and you have no new animated feature to release, you re-release an old one. Particularly if the competition (Twentieth Century Fox) is about to come out with its own brand new feature (Anastasia opens next week). Which is why The Little Mermaid is swimming back to the big screen.

You might expect the first of the " '90s" Disney efforts (it came out in 1989) to look a little dated in the wake of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, et al., but The Little Mermaid holds up pretty well. Aside from "Part of Your World," which is as poignant as ever, the score seems a little thin, and I'm not sure why the Disney folks wanted to give a Caribbean flavor to this Hans Christian Andersen story. The creature companions -- Sebastian the crab, Scuttle the seagull, Flounder the guppy -- are cute to a fault. And after watching chef Louis decapitate fish, you may lose your taste for seafood.

But sheepdog Max is one of Disney's better canines. And the animators deliver where it counts, in the expressions of Ariel and Prince Eric, whose love-at-first-sight is sweet but not saccharine. They're only the first step toward Beauty and the Beast (Ariel-as-a-human has no power to speak, which cuts down on the witty repartee), but Ariel in particular is sexy as well as sympathetic. Watch too for the forerunners of Zeus and Hades (from this summer's Hercules) in King Triton and octopussy sea witch Ursula).

--Jeffrey Gantz

Other Films by Ron Clements

Film Vault Suggested Links
The Lion King
The Brave Little Toaster
Race the Sun

Related Merchandise
Search for related videos at
Search for more by Ron Clements at
Search for related books at
Search for related music at

Rate this Film
If you don't want to vote on a film yet, and would like to know how others voted, leave the rating selection as "Vote Here" and then click the Cast Vote button.