The Little Mermaid
In the mid-80s, the offices of Walt Disney Animation were not a happy place. Yep–– the studio that had dazzled the world with classics like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, had precious little to show for itself of late.
The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company were all varying levels of ‘fine’, but 1981’s The Fox and the Hound had been Disney’s last decent hit.
The studio needed some help… so the bigwigs decided it was high time to get back to what they had always done best–– taking a classic fairy tale and giving it a new spin with some great musical numbers. POOF! The Disney Renaissance had begun… and its first bit of movie-magical happiness?
The Little Mermaid.
The tale of a mermaid who wants to give up her damp life for a dry life was more than 150 years old by the time the Disney version reached the big screen in November 1989. And the musical numbers? Well, let’s just say it’s no coincidence that Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman have gone on to earn more than two dozen Oscar nominations.
And how about the crazy-good cast of characters? Lovable goofball seagull Scuttle (Buddy Hackett) rasta-man lobster Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright), big ol’ meanie Ursula (Pat Carroll), and, of course, Ariel.
The kinda-sexy (though yes, underage), seashell bra-wearing cutie lit up the screen like no one in a Disney film had since Aurora in 1959’s Sleeping Beauty. (Ten years later both would be named charter members of the Disney Princess line.)
Form Ariel’s collection of man-made thing-a-ma-bobs and whatzits, to Ursula’s slick hench-eels Flotsam and Jetsam, to Sebastian almost becoming dinner at the hands of Chef “Les Poissons!” Louis, The Little Mermaid recaptured the Diseny magic like no film had for years.
It was fun enough to appeal to everyone, scary enough to keep things interesting, and beautiful enough to remain one of the best animated films of all time, even today.
“Derrrre you see her… sittin’ dere across de way…”
We ♥ The Little Mermaid.