Disney (Wednes)Day: The Little Mermaid

It is finally time for some better Disney movies, starting with The Little Mermaid from 1989. Now, I have not seen the movie prior to today but as a kid I watched the cartoon series about these characters so I’m not completely unfamiliar with the whole thing.

The film opens with a shot of some seagulls in a not so pretty looking sky, if you know what I mean. It doesn’t look like a nice day and the sea in which dolphins swim also looks dirty and unwelcoming. Then we get to see a ship with people and a dog on it that sing a song about fishing and also merfolk because that is totes not a fairy tale. And there is also our lovely guy who I’m sure will fall in love with the mermaid. No, I have not seen the movie but this little tidbit was so glaringly obvious! One little fish makes an escape from the nets of the boat and it takes us down under (no, not Australia) into the beautiful water world.

And who would have guessed?? There are merpeople! They are of realz! Next we see a neptune looking guy with a trident having his big clam (or whatever it is) pulled by 3 dolphins. A little seahorse announces the next guest, a little crab by the name of Sebastian. (Don’t confuse him with Lil’ Sebastian, yo.)


They apparently are about to have a concert and Sebastian is the conductor. He congratulates Ocean King on his lovely daughters but also mentions that his youngest, Ariel, should bother to show up for rehearsal every once in a while.

It’s show time so they sing a song because this is the duty of every character in a Disney movie ever! As it turns out, Ariel is not there which is only noticed when her part in the song comes up. Womp, womp.

Instead, Ariel is floating around with her fish friend Flounder (who I thought was named Fabian. Either that’s what he was called in Germany or my mind is playing tricks on me). I think I’m already in love with Ariel and Flounder if that is even possible as they are both so adorable and cute and all Ariel is only wearing a bra made out of seashells and who could blame me really. Anyway, the two are about to investigate an old ship on the sea ground, Flounder is being his cute scared self and won’t stay behind but wants to be close to Ariel. Together they find a fork over which they get really excited because they have no idea what it is.

Fun times are interrupted when a shark appears and tries to eat them but they manage to escape him last minute. Actually they are kind of clever about it.

Random rock in the ocean. A seagull is sitting around when he spots Ariel and Flounder at the surface. They clearly know each other and start talking. The seagull’s name is Scuttle. Ariel shows her collectibles to him waiting for an explanation as to what they are. Scuttle explains the fork to be some kind of hair curler called dinglehopper. He also explains a pipe to be some kind of musical instrument. This is Ariel’s cue to remember about the concert she was supposed to be in right now and hurries away.

Cut to Ursula the big octopus woman observing all of this. She is kinda fabulous and one of the most distinctive memories I have about the Little Mermaid from childhood. She gives a creepy monologue about wanting Ocean King’s place and to rule the water world. You go, bitch! I’m pretty sure she has taken a note out of Maleficent’s book or at least watched Sleeping Beauty. Good for you! You both are magnificent but I’m getting ahead of myself.

On the other side of this little ocean kingdom, Ocean King is scolding Ariel for missing the concert. When Sebastian starts insulting and hurting Ariel, Flounder’s courage kicks in and he defends his friend. Unfortunately the words swimming on the surface escape him which makes Ariel’s dad really mad and Ariel swims away.Sebastian gets the order to follow Ariel around and to report back to the King. This sucks.

Ariel’s treasure alcove. She sings a sad song about wanting to be human and falling in love and some stuff like that. Usual mermaid problems I guess. Just then, Sebastian reveals himself because he is not very good at sneaking around. Just then she look up and sees a dark shadow over her so she goes to investigate.

It is the ship we have seen earlier and they are having a celebration with fireworks. Ariel is clearly awstruck and goes to take a closer look. On the ship she sees our guy from before who’s name apparently is Eric and he is a prince. Of course he is. She falls in isnta-love with him and I throw up a bit.

Today is Eric’s birthday and his present is a statue of his that was built for his wedding day but as he didn’t go through with the wedding, he gets it now. He mentions something about when he meets the right woman, it will hit him like lightning. Someone in the sky took this too literal as just then, lightning strikes and the weather turns bad. Eric tries to safe his dog as the ship is burning and then it all explodes. Ariel goes to rescue Eric and sings him another song. Just before he comes back to his senses, she disappears and he only remembers her voice and a little bit about her looks but mostly her voice. I can’t blame him, she sings beautifully.

Ursula meanwhile has witnessed everything and is developing a plan to use this to her advantage.

Next day, Ariel is swimming around all happy. Her sisters can tell she is in luuuuvvvvvee. Ariel daydreams some and Sebastian sings a song I do remember having heard before. Something about being under the sea.

Ocean King calls for Sebastian to get some intel in his youngest daughter. This clearly was before one could track every move through cell phones and such. Good times. Sebastian is not a good liar so he spills the beans about the Prince.

Ariel’s treasure alcove. Flounder somehow managed to get Eric’s statue in there as it sank with the ship. This sounds illogical but I know I’m watching a movie about mermaids and speaking fish so this really should not bother me. Just then, Ocean King comes in to yell at Ariel for going to the surface again and all the other shenanigans she has been up to. Ariel yells at her Dad how much she is in L.O.V.E with Eric and I want to yell in return that she has just met that guy and OMG!! Do you hear what you are saying, little missy? Ocean King doesn’t give a crap and destroys some of her collectibles and the statue of Eric.

Ariel cries the sad tears of sadness and not being understood by her father when two of Ursula’s minions appear to lure her towards Ursula. Because Ariel is an idiot who is in love, she follows them.

Ursula suggests she can help Ariel by becoming human for three days. In that time, Ariel needs to make Eric fall in love with her and give her a true love filled kiss. If Ariel fails, she will turn back to a mermaid. As payment, Ursula wants Ariel’s voice. Of course Ariel does it because she is young, naive and so in luuurvee. *headdesk*

BTW, how is it, that Ariel’s hair always looks so great? This is really unfair. I may also have a little crush on her because she is gorgeous albeit a little stupid.

Cut to Eric in his castle talking about Ariel and her beautiful voice just to emphasise how much of a mistake it is for her to give up her voice and basically everything about this plan.

Ariel is being transformed and thank god Sebastian and Flounder are around to pull her to the surface and make sure she breathes. Well, standing on two legs ain’t easy! Whens he finally meets Eric, she can’t talk and he thinks it isn’t her and can you see what a stupid mistake this whole thing is???? Anyway he invites her to stay with him and as Flounder can’t go, Sebastian follows to keep an eye on her. Only in the kitchen he learns what happens to crabs and he has to flee from the kitchen chef.

Ocean King is feverishly looking for Ariel but can’t find her. DUH! She is on land.

Ariel and Eric are having fun times with each other, all without her talking. While paddling on a lake, Sebastian tries his best to make Eric kiss Ariel by letting some frogs or whatever sing Kiss the Girl, another song I have heard before. Yay me! Of course they don’t take the hint because then this movie would be over too soon.

At night, Eric is on the beach where he sees someone resembling Ariel and singing with her voice so he thinks he has finally found her but it is the sea witch.

Reversed case of Insta-Love, Eric, Prince of Idiots, wants to marry Ursula in disguise but before this happens a lot of back and forth ensues and the trapped voice escapes and enters Ariel again. Eric realises his big mistake but before he can kiss her, Ariel turns back into a mermaid.

Water worlds, Ursula has assumed the throne but with the help of Eric, she is overthrown and everything goes back to normal. As thanks, Ocean King allows Ariel to become human and everyone is happy.

The end.

Now this was a lovely film with great music and I enjoyed it a LOT. As already pointed out, I have my problems with the insta-love component here but that is something running through basically every fairy tale or Disney movie that involves love.

Also, why could Eric not become a merman instead of Ariel becoming human? I guess, she always dreamed of living on the surface so it’s okay but this was never even an issue for them. It gives little kids (and I don’t just mean girls) false expectations about love and how relationships work. Don’t be pushovers ladies!! This is my little piece of Disney Life Advice from me to you!

Overall, I did enjoy The Little Mermaid enough to overlook the stupidity and I kinda love Ursula for being big and fabulous and bad. There have been quite a number of female villains in Disney movies so far and I’m ambiguous about wether this is a good thing or a bad. Maybe it’s a little bit of both, I’m not sure.

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  • I think what I liked best about The Little Mermaid is that when Ariel and Eric *first* meet, she rescues him and that she actually possesses a lot of chutzpah. Of course, the rest of the film kinda forgets the first five minutes of the film and Ariel’s notdaftness.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Yep, that is a nice touch. From a modern woman’s perspective, this movie is a disaster but it has interesting characters and good music.

  • While this was one of the several Disney movies my family owned when i was growing up, it was never a favorite of mine. I honestly had forgotten much of it, which i only realized when reading your recap. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters as a child, and thought they all made stupid decisions — something that bothered me even as a kid, and when a little kid is calling you out for being an idiot, you KNOW you done bad… ;-)

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I didn’t like the little mermaid cartoons on TV as a kid. They just seemed so stupid to me and yes, they all make terrible decisions. Still, in comparison to the movies I watched before this one, it’s a real gem!

      • Haha, yeah, I can understand liking this in comparison to a worse version…

  • Return to the ’80s (Paul)

    I still haven’t seen this movie yet. I do know a lot of the music though. And now they have a new Little Mermaid ride in Disney World in Orlando that I went on last summer. So I got all the major plot points of the movie.
    I don’t know if you have access to this video or not, but here is a YouTube video of the ride:


    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Sweet! Ariel is pretty to look at and Flounder is adorable. Those are the highlights of the movie, really :)

  • EmilyHornburg

    LOVE Little Mermaid! And how can I you not fall insta-love with a guy who loves his dog the way Eric does? I mean… I can see it. Not that insta-love is good. And it never bothered me that she became a human. It was what she always wanted, and I feel like if she couldn’t be a human, Eric would have been willing to be a merman. (At least I hope he would have been.) You also have to remember with the dumb decisions, that Ariel is 16 years old. SIXTEEN. I made SO MANY dumb choices, especially when it comes to guys, when I was 16. Not that the choices aren’t dumb, but you do have to put that into consideration. Also, Flounder was my favorite as a kid. I had a stuffed animal of him and he was awesome.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      It didn’t really bother me that she became a human but I still felt the need to point it out. And yes, Ariel is 16 and really dumb and I DID like this movie a lot. Especially after watching a lot of rather dumb ones before The Little Mermaid.

  • Vanessa

    Such a Disney classic, I love this one. Ursula definitely has Malificent qualities about her. And Ariel’s hair does look great, doesn’t it? Most hair looks great underwater though, so that’s probably why.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Hmm, I never thought underwater hair looked cool but I haven’t been underwater with my hair not in a ponytail for a long time. Or swam with someone.