“Little Mermaid” Kicks Off Disney’s Golden Age with Blissful, Musical Animated Aquatic Love Story

Structured like an underwater Broadway musical from the heroine’s bubbly “I want” song through kick-lines on conch shells, Disney’s The Little Mermaid (A), directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, is aquatic and sonic enchantment on every cell of hand-drawn animation. Viewers will be immediately taken by rebellious teen mermaid Ariel voiced by Jodi Benson, who is endlessly fascinated with visiting life on land, forbidden by threat of trident by her controlling royal father. Determined to further connect with a human prince she encounters on a secret jaunt, Ariel forges a dangerous deal with brassy sea witch Ursula (Pat Carroll) to become mortal for three days and must face sink or swim consequences to seal her star-crossed destiny. Catchy songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman such as “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” and “Kiss the Girl” become instant Disney canon, and supporting characters such as Sebastian the Caribbean Crab voiced by Samuel E. Wright charm throughout. The filmmakers create a vibrant animated water environment for an enchanting tale, and the buoyant and propulsive narrative makes for great family fun.

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