A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Walt Disney's "The Little Mermaid" is a jolly and inventive animated fantasy - a movie that's so creative and so much fun it deserves comparison with the best Disney work of the past.
It's based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale about a mermaid who falls in love with a prince, but the Disney animators have added a gallery of new supporting characters, including an octopus named Ursula who is their most satisfying villainess since the witch in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
Watching "The Little Mermaid," I began to feel that the magic of animation had been restored to us. After the early years of Walt Disney's pathfinding feature-length cartoons, we entered into a long, dark age in which frame-by-frame animation was too expensive, and even the great Disney animation team began using shortcuts. Now computers have taken the busywork out of the high-priced hands of humans, who are free to realize even the most elaborate flights of imagination. And that's certainly what they do in this film.
The movie opens far beneath the sea, where the god Triton rules over his underwater kingdom. All obey his commands - except for his daughter, Ariel, a mermaid who dreams of far-off lands. One day Ariel makes a forbidden visit to the surface of the sea, and there for the first time she sees a human: a handsome, young prince. He hears her singing, and falls in love with her voice. Triton is angry at Ariel's disobedi ence, but she can think of nothing but the prince, and eventually she strikes an unwise bargain with the evil Ursula, an octopus who can disguise herself in many different forms. Ursula will take away Ariel's tail and give her human legs so she can follow the prince on to the land, but if the prince doesn't kiss her within two days, she will have to give her haunting singing voice to the octopus.