The Little Mermaid (1989)

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Critic Consensus: The Little Mermaid ushered in a new golden era for Disney animation with warm and charming hand-drawn characters and catchy musical sequences.

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Disney's The Little Mermaid was the first in a series of blockbusters that restored the venerable firm's reputation as the world's premiere animated-feature factory. The title character is a precocious teenager named Ariel, the daughter of Triton, king of the Sea. Against her dad's wishes, Ariel journeys beyond her own world to the surface, where she falls in love with Prince Eric, a handsome human. Foolishly, the little mermaid enters into an agreement with evil sea witch Ursula in order to become human herself. The wistfully melancholy ending of the original Hans Christian Andersen story is dispensed with in favor of a joyously happy ending-but not before a spectacular climactic confrontation between Ursula and Triton. The obligatory Disney comic relief is handled by such freshly minted characters as Sebastian the Crab, who, courtesy of voiceover artist Samuel E. Wright, sings the film's Oscar-winning "Under the Sea." Other voices are provided by Broadway star Jodi Benson (as Ariel) and such Hollywood reliables as Buddy Hackett, Pat Carroll, Kenneth Mars, and Rene Auberjonois. The enormous box-office take of The Little Mermaid made possible such future Disney cartoon ventures as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Little Mermaid

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (13)

Audiences of all ages are bound to fall in love with this bubbly, thoroughly enchanting fish story.

Nov 14, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

The Little Mermaid -- impudent, grandiose, a multilevel crowd-pleaser -- almost returns the Disney animated features to their glory traditions of the '30s and '40s.

Nov 15, 2013 | Full Review…

It may not be a transcendent masterpiece of the Disney canon, but The Little Mermaid is still very heartening: It suggests the Disney magic isn`t lost after all.

Nov 15, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The latest Disney offering looks back to the studio's unrivaled heritage. It has the look of classic animation. More important, it has the skill required to make it work.

Nov 15, 2013 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

In adapting this animated film from Hans Christian Andersen's sad and beautiful fairy tale, writers/directors John Musker and Ron Clements came up with a bright and perky movie.

Nov 15, 2013 | Full Review…

You could wish upon a star and not conjure up a more joyous animated movie than this graceful retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale.

Sep 3, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Little Mermaid

½

The best film of the studio in more than twenty years and an excellent return to the golden age of fairy tale classics, with wonderful songs, a delightful animation and a wonderfully-written story that set a new standard to be followed by the studio in the next decade.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

If there is an entertaining tale about a mermaid, Ron Clements and John Musker get it right in The Little Mermaid.

The plot details come and go at a solid pace. While sounding like a brief run time, 80 minutes turns out to be the perfect solution to this story that is fitting for adults and children alike.

The bright colors give the picture life and the musical numbers create a memorable soundtrack. It's safe to say that the visuals and music compliment the story without fail.

Sure, the lead character is a mermaid with an excellent voice, thanks to Jodi Benson, but it's the supporting cast of characters that get the job done. Sam E. Wright as Sebastian. That says it all.

Not much else to say except The Little Mermaid swims to the surface and explodes out of the water as a fantastic watch.

JY Skacto
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

½

Definitely not one of the better Disney-animated films out there, feeling a little dull at times, but the heart of the film is always in the right place, making it a very enjoyable film to watch. Ariel's character is very likeable as she is given a chance to have legs and fall in love with a prince. Sure, the idea is as old as the hills, but when it's done right, time never makes a difference. "The Little Marmaid" is a classic tale that will never get old, but it's not one of their efforts that will stay in my heart. It's fun and then it's over. There is not much to this one, but it's very likeable!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

The Little Mermaid is a good animated film, but compared to many previous Disney features, this film isn't as memorable. Of course this is a good film that is a must watch for the entire family, however I think that it's pretty far from the first few Disney classics that put Disney on the map. Although very entertaining, The Little Mermaid does not belong among the greatest films in Disney's history. Despite this, the film is still worth watching and is lots of fun. I don't view it as an all time classic, but it does manage to bring back elements of some Disney classics. Compared to others in Disney's repertoire, The Little Mermaid is fairly average. Nonetheless if you're a fan of animated flicks, then watch this one. The film has a story everyone will enjoy no matter what age you are. A fun filled film with a good voice cast; this is a film that conveys old school ideas with a modern twist. If you love Disney's other films, and then give this one a view. The film may not be as great as the classics such as Snow White, but it still is entertaining and fun for the entire family. As a whole, The Little Mermaid is a good film, but like I said isn't the best film in Disney's catalogue. For me personally, I much prefer the older Disney classics. Despite this, I still recommend this film. Entertaining, and lots of fun for people of all ages. A very good animated film, just not in the same category as other Disney films. I still think that The Lion King is the best Disney flick that stands among the traditional Disney classics.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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