Loosely based upon the story by Hans Christian Andersen. Ariel, youngest daughter of King Triton, is dissatisfied with life in the sea. She longs to be with the humans above the surface, and is often caught in arguments with her father over those "barbaric fish-eaters". She goes to meet Ursula, the Sea Witch, to strike a deal, but Ursula has bigger plans for this mermaid and her father. Written by
Tim Pickett <email@example.com>
The mermaid herself is charming. She is animated with real passion - and voiced with real passion too, by Jodi Benson, who provides a powerful argument that whoever provides the speaking voice should also provide the singing voice. She is an innocent heroine but by no means a colourless one. That the prince should fall in love with her, on just seeing her and hearing her voice, is entirely credible.
The same could not be said for Andersen's original mermaid, who is a very cold fish indeed, solely concerned with grabbing immortality, considering the prince as no more than a handy means to it. It's this (and the high value placed on Christianity at the expense of decency) that makes Andersen's ending so insufferable. Obviously, another ending had to be found; and while it must be said that the big ending Musker and Clements came up with is a weak one, it must also be said that it's an improvement.
Musker and Clements still have a problem with their finales (witness `Aladdin' and `Hercules'), but they have countervailing strengths, and those strengths are most apparent here. The songs are all exceptionally staged (the well-known `Under the Sea' actually being the least effective), the comedy is sharp and well-timed, and - more obviously here than anywhere else
they really believe in what they're doing. They give credit to Howard
Ashman for this and they could be right; whatever the reason, an air of innocence and sincerity pervades `The Little Mermaid' which makes it - and her - utterly irresistible.
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