Ariel is extremely likable. She has more depth than a lot of the earlier princesses, with her rebellious tendencies and desire for something more. She's also a bit foolish - I mean, what sort of deal is it to not only give your voice away, but agree that you will become some creepy little green thing in the ground if you can't get a guy to call in love with you in three days? And a guy you've never even really met before? But she's so cute, and charming, and innocent in her own way.
I do think that this movie is one of the ones that deviates the most from the original fairy tale. The basic premise is the same, but most of the story is way different when Han Christen Andersen wrote it. For one, the Sea Witch doesn't take Ariel's voice, but the "punishment" is that every time she dances it feels like she is dancing on swords. And if the Prince marries anyone else, Ariel will die. He does indeed marry another woman, but Ariel is given one last chance. She can stab the Prince and become a mermaid again. However, she cannot bring herself to do it and ends up instead throwing herself into the ocean and dissolving into sea foam. Then supposedly she is able to become a "daughter of the air" and eventually go to heaven. Not exactly the happy ending of the Disney movie.
The romance in Disney's version is a little sudden. But if you buy the whole "love at first sight" argument then it works. Personally, I prefer to see the romance develop, like in Beauty and the Beast, but if you can accept it then you have a beautiful love story about two people that would do anything for each other.
The songs in this one are really fantastic, thanks to Alan Menken. You just have a lot of really excellent tunes that are catchy, fun, and beautiful: "Under the Sea" (my personal favorite), "Part of Your World," and "Kiss the Girl." Even the villain's song "Poor Unfortunate Souls" is pretty good. And then there's "Les Poisson." There is a bit of an inside joke about this one because of something called the poisson distribution in statistics, and my brother showed me this clip from The Little Mermaid after he learned it. I honestly did not remember anything like that scene at all in the movie, but sure enough, it's there! The song isn't too memorable though.
Ursula is icky and evil. One of the creepiest things about her is her "garden" of souls, which are deformed little green things. It seems sicker to keep them around in that form instead of just killing them. She's also after revenge, though we're not exactly sure why. She's cruel, but she's also tricky. She tries to act nice to Ariel, but then she is completely deceitful behind her back. At least she got what was coming to her - a ship through the stomach.
The Disney World Connection
The Little Mermaid is pretty popular in WDW. Hollywood Studios has a live show/musical version. A large attraction called The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventures is supposed to open within the next few years in the Magic Kingdom. It will be a dark ride taking you through the story. Ariel and Prince Eric are available for meet and greets around the park. There also used to be a meet and greet section called Ariel's Grotto, but it was closed sometime last year.
Becky's rating: 9 out of 10
Jason's rating: 8.5 out of 10