Repeated viewing of any movie allows you to catch things you didn’t notice the first time, and so when one has seen a film enough times to recite it ad nauseum, one is bound to look beyond the suspension of disbelief most viewers enjoy, dissect its every nuance, and discover gaping holes in the story’s logic. If there’s any movie that fits this description for me, it’s Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Not only do the Twins request it at least three times a week, it was also a VHS my two younger sisters would loop at least three times a day when we were growing up. (Fun fact: When the Twins are at my mom’s house, they watch that very same VHS. It still plays perfectly.) It has recently occurred to me that–by my half-assed calculations–this incessant exposure to The Little Mermaid places it comfortably at the top of my all-time most-viewed movies list. While I’d prefer my chart-topper to be something badass like The Empire Strikes Back or Back to the Future, I guess it could be worse, right? (I’m looking at you, The Chronicles of Riddick.) Anyway, apparently watching The Little Mermaid has become my life’s work, so I feel it is my duty as an expert in this field to share the following observations I’ve made over the years, to further enhance your own Mermaid-viewing experience:
1. Violation of the First Animal Amendment
If all of the animals can talk to and understand each other (including animals from “Under the Sea” and land animals like Scuttle), why aren’t that shark and Eric’s dog Max part of the conversation?
2. You Gotta Tell De Boy
Speaking of speaking animals, if Eric can understand things Sebastian whispers in his ear (i.e. Ariel’s name), couldn’t he also really quickly explain in Eric’s ear that yes, Ariel is, in fact, the one that saved him from drowning and that she traded her voice just for a chance to meet him? I mean, come on, who wouldn’t believe a talking crab?
3. No Notary Aquatic
I feel like Ariel and King Triton could have avoided a whole lot of trouble by pointing out that Ursula’s contract was never notarized. Apparently being “Under the Sea” makes you above the law.
4. There is no Great Language Barrier Reef
Furthermore, that contract was in English, and we know Ariel is literate because she signed her name on it. So when she loses her voice and can’t communicate with Eric, what’s stopping her from carrying around a piece of paper and pen to communicate? That’s right. NOTHING.
5. Lip Sinking
You know that part at the end when Ursula’s getting all super-pissed and makes herself enormous and the earth is shaking and her crown comes up right underneath Ariel and Eric? You know when Ariel says, “You’ve got to get away from here,” and Eric replies, “No, I won’t leave you”? Well, next time you see it (for me it’ll be in about five minutes), watch Eric’s mouth when he says that. IT DOESN’T FREAKING MOVE. Bugs the hell out of me every time. This is the climax of the movie, Disney animators. Just because the earth is shaking doesn’t mean you can be lazy and turn Prince Eric into a ventriloquist. Well, you can’t fool me. I’m no dummy.
5. I feel you, Triton.
Growing up watching the movie as a kid, I’d always think Triton was such an ignorant drag, and I have a feeling that’s what Disney wants, too. But now that I’m a father, I have to say I feel for the guy. He’s got a valid point. It’s common knowledge that humans eat fish without even thinking about it, so it makes complete sense for him to be concerned that his daughter is all wanting to be “part of their world” and whatnot. He’s just trying to keep his daughter safe, just like I’d be super pissed if I found out my daughter was hanging out with shady folk, or not wearing her seatbelt, or listening to country music. And then, when Triton confronts Ariel, she has the nerve to say, “Daddy, you don’t even know him!” Well, guess what, Ariel? Neither do you! You watch Eric all stalker-like as he dances around with his flute for five minutes, and you feel you have a firm grasp on his character? Sure, you spent a lot of time together while you rescued him from drowning while he was unconscious. But yeah, sure, that’s a fantastic first date, so it makes complete sense for you to love him, right? Wrong. You’re just lucky Eric wound up being a stand-up guy. And that your dad was okay with turning you into a human with his magic pitchfork.
6. Wait a minute…
Triton can turn Ariel into a human? If his concern was about his daughter being snared and eaten because she’s half fish, why not just turn her into a human to “spend a day warm on the sand” once in a while to let her get it out of her system? In fact, He could turn himself into a human for the day, too, and go along to keep an eye on her. He might even find himself a lady. He’s got that unique ridiculously-ripped hippie look going for him. The dude’s a single dad with seven daughters. He could probably use a vacation.
7. What Happens Under the Sea Stays Under the Sea
I wonder if Ursula always has a song ready and dramatic lighting cued up for every “poor, unfortunate soul” she helps. It really could have made for a decent Vegas show if she hadn’t been so bent on world ocean domination. She could have volunteer audience members come onstage so she could taunt them in song à la Lisa Lampanelli.
8. Extreme Makeover: Sea-Slug Thingie Edition
OR…even better than the Vegas show: a reality show in which every episode consists of a contestant asking Ursula to grant a wish with the caveat that if they don’t hold up their end of the deal, they become those sea-slug monster thingies, resulting in a constant race against the clock smattered with singing and swim-dancing. They could call it Poor, Unfortunate Souls.
9. Victoria’s Sea-cret
I don’t have boobs, so I’m no expert, but having felt the sharp insides of seashells, I’m assuming that’s not the comfiest of bra situations there. Plus, I’m guessing it’s kind of a pain in the ass to find a dead clam carcass that is your exact cup size. Just a thought.
. . .
Now it’s your turn!
I have a feeling I’m not the only one with deep thoughts on The Little Mermaid. If you have any of your own, please don’t deny Science of your insights. You gotta leave de comments below.
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If not, remember that the seaweed is always greener in somebody’s else’s lake.