I'm a big fan of the series. I'm surprised critics say it's typical Disney Channel garbage. For me, it's Bewitched for the 90s, especially the first three seasons.
This was fun enough to watch if you like the series. I said this about "Sabrina Goes to Rom" movie, and I'll say it about this one. It feels awkward at times to see Sabrina without her Aunts or Harvey.
This TV movie was broadcast on September 26, 1999 right after Season 4's 1st episode (aired on September 24, 1999).
If you're watching the series chronologically according to air date, it's weird.
The 1st episode of Season 4, had the departure of both Valerie and Libby. "Libby has gone to a private school, and Valerie has moved to Alaska with her parents".
Lindsay Sloane's (as Valerie) last episode appearance was the Season 3 finale. So it's strange to have her removed from the show's main cast and then have her as a completely different character in the movie (as Fin). Nevertheless, it works surprisingly well, and it's kind of nice. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask did a similar thing when they used the same character's as Ocarina of Time in different roles.
In fact, it makes you feel more comfortable accepting this as a completely "parallel universe": I had a big problem with this when watching Sabrina Goes to Rome.
It's nice to Tara Strong reprises her role as Gwen (from Sabrina Goes to Rome) . While Sabrina Goes to Rome wasn't that good for familiarity reasons it's comforting to see her again.
The storyline and plot here are a lot more believable even though it's wacky. It's also funny. I laughed quite a few times. It's generally mindless fun for fans of the series. It isn't Shakespeare by any stretch. The story and plot were done much better in the original movies that used them (Free Willy, The Little Mermaid, etc.). Even so, the character interactions don't feel forced or unnatural.
If you're a fan of the series you should enjoy it. Especially when the majority of Season 4 episodes were so bad.
Definitely a movie for Sabrina lovers, but I felt that "Sabrina goes to Rome" was slightly better. This can probably be contributed to the fact that Aussie's don't talk in slang (as portrayed by one of the characters), and this therefore made the overall feel of the movie very unrealistic.
Despite that, this is a still great family movie.
It was also nice to see Tara Charendoff reprise her role as Sabrina's witch friend from "Sabrina Goes to Rome". (I smiled when she said "Frizzle!") It was also kind of weird seeing Lindsay Sloane as a mermaid, although it wasn't until later that I remembered that she played Valerie in the first season of the show.
For hard core fans of STTW only - and uncritical ones at that.
A typical TV movie stuff aimed at kids, we are offered merfolk who talk as if they are ordinary humans that just happen to have tails, and two talking cats that are quite obviously puppets. The FX are brief and incidental.
The film is well-meaning and has a good message. Too bad that the myth and mystery of merfolk and the sea weren't given more story time here. As it is, it is an amusing, fluffy, typical TV movie.
There isn't much to recommend as a movie other than for fans of the TV show. Even they may be confused by Lindsay Sloane playing a completely different character. I do really like the underwater marine life. I can tolerate the rest like Gwen's squeaky voice, the ridiculous CG fish, the bland story, the weak acting or the annoying cat romance. The production is like a cheap Australian TV show. I wish it has more underwater stuff because the rest isn't very worthwhile.