×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Little Mermaid

Borrowing liberally from the studio's classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney's best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements' 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after it had nearly sunk into The Black Cauldron.

Borrowing liberally from the studio’s classics, The Little Mermaid may represent Disney’s best animated feature since the underrated Sleeping Beauty in 1959. That should come as no surprise to admirers of The Great Mouse Detective, writer-director collaborators John Musker and Ron Clements’ 1986 animation feature that helped salvage the art form at the studio after it had nearly sunk into The Black Cauldron.

The source material is a Hans Christian Andersen tale. The mermaid princess Ariel (voiced by newcomer Jodi Benson) lives in her sea-lord father Triton’s (Kenneth Mars) undersea kingdom but yearns for a life above, made all the more haunting to her when she rescues handsome young prince Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) from the sea. Disobeying her father, she makes a pact with seawitch Ursula (Pat Carroll) enabling her to go ashore and get the prince to fall in love with her – her soul hanging in the balance, her beautiful voice as collateral.

Ursula alone proves a visual feast, a thick-jawed nightmare who swishes about on eight octopus legs in one of the film’s more inspired inventions.

The animation proves lush and fluid, augmented by the use of shadow and light as elements like fire, sun and water illuminate the characters. Key contributions are made by lyricist Howard Ashman (who co-produced with Musker) and composer Alan Menken, whose songs frequently begin slowly but build in cleverness and intensity.

1989: Best Song (‘Under the Sea’), Original Score.

Nomination: Best Song (‘Kiss the Girl’)

The Little Mermaid

Production: Walt Disney. Director John Musker, Ron Clements; Producer Howard Ashman, John Musker; Screenplay John Musker, Ron Clements; Editor John Carnochan; Music Alan Menken; Art Director Michael A. Peraza Jr, Donald A. Towns

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1989. Running time: 82 MIN.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    John Singleton, the two-time Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as “mild.” According to TMZ, which first broke the news, [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content