When I was young I fell in love with the story of a vibrant and rebellious young mermaid whose free spirit and trusting nature led her to find her true love and her happy ever after (with a lot of help from her loyal and resourceful friends Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle).
Now that I am older I recently re-watched The Little Mermaid and found the childhood love I had felt and my sense of wonder and belief had been replaced. Where once I had unwavering acceptance of the storyline and encouragement for Ariel and her plight to be free I now had nagging questions about the plot and a running commentary in my head about random little details I had never cared about before.
Here’s a quick list of my thoughts and reactions to this Disney classic:
- Ariel has a short attention span and is a bit of a hoarder. Someone should really point that out to her. She’s also quite spacey and self absorbed… she misses her father’s concert (and neglects to go to rehearsals) and wanders off in the middle of ‘Under The Sea’ – poor Sebastian put a lot of effort into the whole song and dance just for her benefit and she can’t even make it through the whole thing. How rude.
- Flounder is still adorable but kinda whiny.
- Ariel reminds me of Belle from Beauty and The Beast with some expressions. Also, I swear, when Ariel is sobbing in her trinket cave and looks at the face of the Eric statue the music briefly sounds like it belongs in ‘Beauty and The Beast’. It’s only a small tune but I swear I hear it.
- I love Ursula! Her sarcasm and biting humour is timeless. Come on, Disney! Write an animated prequel for Ursula (not an action movie or CGI/actor based flick but a classic animation with the same kind of feel to it as The Little Mermaid). Who was she? What made her so fabulously cynical? No one wakes up that bitter and jaded overnight without a back story.
- What’s up with Eric? He’s a bit flat in the plot/personality department. He’s the object of Ariel’s obsession (oh, sorry, I mean… true love) but he doesn’t really do much and isn’t all that bright in the scheme of things. Ariel can’t talk, true, but did he think to offer her a pen and paper? She can read about humans and sign a contract after all. Okay, okay, before you Eric lovers start yelling at me I acknowledge that he does manage to kill Ursula… but even that is quick and not much of a struggle.
- For a teenage girl (with six gossipy older sisters) who got her voice back Ariel barely speaks at the end of the movie. She only manages to utter “I love you, Daddy” in a very girly whisper before the movie glosses through the marriage and rolls the credits.
- The message I got watching The Little Mermaid when I was growing up was probably along the lines of don’t give up on your dreams or finding that perfect prince who will, of course, save the day in the most meaningful or cheesy way as possible. In 2015 the message translates (for me, anyway) as be as rebellious, self-absorbed and stubborn as you like as it will get you what you want and hey, you don’t need your family and friends if you have a man… though that may just be my inner Ursula busting out for a moment. Maybe the real moral of the story is that you can use a fork as a hairbrush and save loads of money on visits to the hairdressers. Dinglehopper for the win.