The Little Mermaid (1989)

little mermaid poster 1989 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visual: 9/10

Great blend of a good story and great animation

Brought back Disney...for better or worse

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Little Mermaid

Studio:  Walt Disney Feature Animation

Genre(s):  Animated/Musical/Romance/Family

Release Date(s):  November 14, 1989

MPAA Rating:  G

little mermaid part of your world ariel

Wow…nice timing with your crescendo, Ariel

Ariel has grown tired of her life as a princess under the sea. Her father just doesn’t understand her desire to see the surface world and refuses to listen to her. When she is tricked into giving up her tail for legs by the evil sea witch Ursula, Ariel learns that she has three days to win the heart of Prince Eric or become a thrall of Ursula forever. The problem is that Prince Eric has fallen in love with Ariel’s voice, and Ariel has lost her ability to speak with Ursula’s bargain. With Ursula using her voice, Ariel worries that she cannot be stopped despite help from her friends Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, The Little Mermaid is an animated fantasy musical romance.  Following Oliver & Company in 1988, the movie is the twenty-eight film in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series and adapts the 1837 fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson.  The film was a critical and box office success and helped relaunch Disney into a major force in theaters. It won Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Original Best Song (“Under the Sea”) with an additional nomination for “Kiss the Girl”.  The film was released as a stage musical in 2007.

little mermaid under the sea

Then all the critters ate each other

At the time The Little Mermaid was released, Disney was down in the dumps. Oliver & Company did fair at the box office, but the previous film The Black Cauldron tanked. Who Framed Roger Rabbit proved to be a big success and brought more attention to animation again. Disney went back to an old story they had considered animating not long after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and reworked it into The Little Mermaid (basing her character design on Alyssa Milano).

The Little Mermaid altered the original Anderson story. The original story has the Little Mermaid trading her voice for legs (which feel like they are being stabbed by swords) and the chance at an eternal soul if she can bag the prince. The prince is forced to marry someone else and the Little Mermaid dies by transforming into foam and washing away…a bit of a bummer. Thankfully, Disney made it a bit more uplifting.

little mermaid kiss the girl ariel prince eric

I know you are enamored with Ariel, but Prince Eric you aren’t trying very hard to communicate with her

Disney infused the movie with lots of good songs. Not only is the Academy Award winning “Under the Sea” a fun song, but the movie also has “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World”.  Before this film (if you really think about it), most Disney films would have one solid song…here and films after this, Disney really realized the value of the soundtrack and how soundtracks could sell movies.

The Little Mermaid represents Disney’s last classic cell-based art. Following The Little Mermaid, Disney started to use a blend of computer and painted art. The Rescuers Down Under premiered this style for Disney, but Beauty and the Beast in 1991, really took off. It is nice however to look back at The Little Mermaid and see where the classic art ended.

The Little Mermaid was a smart blend of a good story, strong songs, and marketable characters which appealed to a new generation of fans. The movie reignited Disney and helped make them the powerhouse they are today. For better or worse, Disney is back and though I don’t always love what they’ve become The Little Mermaid is one of the better films they’ve made in the last thirty years. The Little Mermaid is followed by The Rescuers Down Under in 1990.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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