The Lion King. Aladdin. Fantasia. Akira. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Toy Story. Potentially Shrek. All of these are animated classics. They are animated films that blew minds and redefined the genre. They are films that opened our eyes to a whole new world of imagination and excitement. But most importantly, they are films that stand the test of time and will continue to stand the tests of time as they are looked back upon as groundbreaking classics. Fantasia was released in 1939! 1939! America was in a depression and a world war was happening. But Walt Disney and his animators created a masterful showcase of sight and sound that astonished minds and continues to astonish minds. Toy Story was one of the first films of its kind. It’s animation left us speechless as we fell in love with Buzz and Woody and followed their adventures for years.
You know what movie isn’t an animated classic? You know what film sucks? The Little Fucking Mermaid.
Write all the essays and college papers you want on Disney’s “Golden Age” or how this film started Disney’s “Renaissance”, the film is bullshit. As an adult, and I use that term loosely, I can watch Aladdin beginning to end no problem. Toy Story? You better be ready to hit play again, cause I’m going to watch it over and over. Akira? Well, I’ll take time between viewings because that’s more of a celebratory watch, but I tell you what, certainly going to watch it more than The Little Mermaid. But Nick, why so much disdain and hatred towards a kids movie? I’ll tell you why loyal reader, and hopefully loyal FTS Podcast listener, I’ll tell you.
The Little Mermaid opens with beauty sea life, shells, fish and Ariel, who we later find out is whiny, with her buddy Flounder (an annoying yellow fish). They’re searching through and finding random objects. Ariel is a collector of human treasures and she’s got a whole sea cave full of them. Alright. I’ll buy that. She even takes them to a seagull friend of hers named Scuttle. To me, Scuttle is the highlight and the only reason to watch this film. Voiced by Buddy Hackett, Scuttle is hilarious with sight gags, vaudeville-timed physical comedy, and a voice that just kills me. I laugh out loud to the point of being obnoxious every time he is on screen. Once Ariel “learns” about her new treasures, she realizes how irresponsible a princess she is and races to the sea castle in which her father, King Triton, is annoyed. Ariel is too free a spirit for the King so he has Sebastian, a crab, follow her to make sure she stays out of trouble and most importantly away from the surface because of the humans. Remember that. Remember how Triton feels about humans (negative) and his feelings on Ariel interacting with humans (very negative) because it comes up again.
So Ariel is all out and about brooding over how her father doesn’t understand her blah blah blah. She’s 15! She’s a teenager. Of course she’s going to brood and complain that the world doesn’t understand her because she doesn’t understand herself! You want to know what I did when I was fifteen? Actually, you don’t. But the point is she is a TEENAGER and all of the events that happen from this point forward could have been avoided if Triton would have grounded her or told her to go to her room; plain and simple. But no, this film is a renaissance for Disney and it’s a classic so there must be more to the film.
Sebastian spots her and doesn’t like what she’s getting into. So, using his logic, he sings a song, which I admit is still catchy and kinda fun after all these years, to remind how great life is under the sea. He explains that “down here all the fish is happy” and that “life is the bubbles”. Sounds great! Newt can play the flute, carp play the harp, plaice play the bass, the bass play brass, and the trout is rocking out so on and so forth. Who wouldn’t want to be part of their world? Clearly Ariel, who’s teen angst sends her attention elsewhere as she swims off during the song. Now that’s just rude. At least wait and voice your opinion before you go swimming off leaving Seastian to worry where you are. His job is to watch over you and when you swim off like that, you’re fucking with his livelihood Ariel. Knock the shit off and grow up.
She swims to surface and finds a ship passing by and like any curious teenager, she finds a way to climb up and see what’s inside. It’s a party!! Sailors are celebrating a joyous occasion with song, canon fire, and drink. Ariel is overwhelmed by it all taking everything in at once when she is discovered by a dog. He comes trotting on over and licks her face and she’s all giggles about it. But when a voice approaches, hoping to see what has the dogs attention, Ariel hides. When he walks away, Ariel gets a look at Eric and she falls in love. I’ll repeat that. She INSTANTLY falls in love with someone she knows NOTHING about. Did I mention she is 15?
A storm fast approaches and Ariel bails. The storm wreaks havoc on the ship and crew. Ariel, swimming through the wreck, discovers Eric and brings him to safety on a nearby shore. Ariel is unsure of what to do so she begins to sing, but as Eric begins to wake, Ariel gets scared and swims off. Eric then vows to find that voice and who it was. Cue Ariel hanging around near a rock singing as water explodes behind her as the tide rolls in. So a few hours go by, maybe a day, and Ariel is singing and not being such a broody little bitch. King Triton is suspicious so he follows Ariel to her secret cave where she stores human treasures. Triton flips because clearly, Ariel hasn’t been listening to him and he destroys EVERYTHING. It’s a pretty intense way to get the point across that human interaction is dangerous and forbidden. Ariel is pissed for a couple days but she gets over it and starts to appreciate the smaller things in life and settles down with a suitable merman…. wait, no. I’m wrong. AGAIN Ariel doesn’t listen but this time, her interest is held by Ursula (my favorite Disney Villain). Ursula, through a terrific song and dance number, gives Ariel legs so that she can walk on land and meet Eric. The catch? She doesn’t have her voice. It’s gone. She has to use her 15 YEAR OLD BODY to SEDUCE a GROWN MAN. Oh, and she has three days to do it or she becomes indebted to Ursula for life as this creepy looking slug creature. Ariel signs her name and poof!
Once at the surface, that goofy dog finds her and she meets Eric. He takes her in and her exploration of human life begins. She kinda fudges her way through while Sebastian is nearly murdered by a borderline “French” chef. Late one night Ariel and Eric go rowing through a blue lagoon and the animal kingdom comes alive to sha-la-la-la-la-la and convince Eric he should kiss the girl. He doesn’t know why but he’s dying to try, he should kiss the girl. Does he? No. Shenanigans happen and they fall out of the boat. The next day this mysterious girl shows up and she has the voice of Ariel! Who could it be? Ursula in disguise? Duh. Within a day, A DAY, this new mystery girl is able to convince Eric to marry her. Granted she uses her magic powers, but none of Eric’s friends or even that goofy dog do anything to stop her. Eric and Ursula head off on a boat to get married out at sea. Ariel calls in the help of Scuttle and his friends and they attack the boat just as the priest with an erection (that’s NOT a knee Disney animators) pronounces them husband and wife. Urusla loses her shit and morphs into a Godzilla sized creature and begins to wreak havoc. Long story short (too late) Eric vanquishes the foe and he is reunited with a now vocal Ariel.
Now that Ursula has been defeated, all the creepy slug creatures are transformed back into Merpeople and they make their way to the surface. Among them, King Triton, makes their way to see Eric and Ariel “in love”. And out of nowhere, absolutely out of nowhere, King Trition is cool with his TEENAGE daughter getting married to a HUMAN MAN just DAYS after meeting this guy. Really King? You are so adamant the entire week, and most likely your entire life, about how bad humans are and how interaction with them isn’t good but you’re going to drop your position within SECONDS just because Ariel “loves” him. I call bullshit.
Disney dropped the ball with this and you can tell they dropped the ball because after Mermaid, they follow with Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan, ALL in that order. Rescuers is more of a classic than The Little Mermaid and I haven’t even seen the film! The entirety of The Little Mermaid is based on the idea of a teenager falling in love with an adult over a matter of days, ignoring her father, and spending the rest of her life with someone she doesn’t even know! What the fuck kind of message is that Disney?
Beauty and the Beast taught us that beauty is skin deep or don’t judge a book by it’s cover, or whatever metaphor you want to use for get to know someone before you judge them. Aladdin taught us that with magical powers you can transcend your socio-economic situation and marry a princess. Wait… that’s not right. Aladdin taught us to always be true to yourself because you’ll never find happiness being someone else. The Lion King taught us that everything the light touches is our kingdom. Fuck, I messed that up again. The Lion King taught us that no matter what life throws your way, you can always find support through family or friends. THAT and Hakuna Matata.
In all seriousness, this movie sucks. It’s a “classic” because Disney calls it that and it looks cool on the 12th edition of the film they’ve released via DVD or BluRay. There are so many better and more meaningful Disney films you could watch with family, friends, or by yourself (ironically or seriously) so don’t waste your time with this one.