"The Little Mermaid" takes us on an animated journey into the life of ginger mermaid Ariel and her dream of becoming human. It's sensory overload for Ariel and for the viewer from start to finish, but in the most positive way. It's a bit sad that some of the voice actors here (Flotsam & Jetsam, Triton, Scuttle) are dead now, but as it's almost 25 years since this film was made just shows what a timeless classic it has become. My favorite moment was Ariel singing in the film early "Part of Your World" and swimming up to the moonlight. Such a beautifully mesmerizing song and scene. While it was IMHO the best song of the movie and I'm pretty surprised it did not get the Oscar nomination, all the other songs are really good as well. "Under the Sea", maybe my least favorite won the Oscar. I see it more as a "Hakuna Matata", a great fun song with little depth,, so it's a bit surprising it was chosen as the best song at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. "Kiss the Girl" is an amazing love song about taking the initiative and is very much worth listening to, just like "Poor Unfortunate Souls", one of Disney's best villain songs ever. The latter is sung by Ursula, the main antagonist here and, long before she becomes a giant monster, already an epic villain here that may have changed the way we perceive octopuses forever to the negative.
Ariel's best friend is a yellow-blue fish with the voice of a child, who rarely speaks, but is always loyal to her, even if he's scared quickly and it certainly doesn't help that there's always sharks around under the sea. Another friend is a bird who teaches Ariel about the human world and always knows what it is used for when Ariel shows him another item from the human world. Sadly, these descriptions are never accurate, which Ariel doesn't know of course, so she uses a fork for combing her hair at some point for example. Story-wise Ariel happens to rescue a Prince from drowning. Her father, however, doesn't want her to have any contact with humans, so he destroys her cavern which includes a giant collection of human things. Desperate and disappointed Ariel goes to see the sea witch Ursula and makes a deal with her. When she seems to be winning the deal, Ursula appears and tricks the prince into thinking she's the real Ariel. But of course, there's a happy ending as in pretty much every Disney film.
One character I haven't mentioned so far, is Sebastian, who, in my opinion is a definite contender for best supporting character in a Disney movie. He really leaves nothing to be desired. Initially loyal to Triton and instructed to look after Ariel, he's quickly captivated by her charm more and more as the film progresses and the very moment he realizes how Ariel will be unhappy for the rest of her life if she stays under the sea is just so much filled with excellence. Oh did I mention, he's also the royal court composer and a crab? Besides that, he's probably also the character who will provide the most comic relief and be the children's favorite. His chase scenes with the cook are simply hilarious. And when he assembles the orchestra, it's a win-win for everybody as we see ducks playing drums on turtle's bellies and the wildest ways music and performances can take by all the sea creatures involved.
This animated version of Hans Christian Andersen's tale is simply a thing of beauty. It certainly is my new favorite film from 1989. The underwater world they created is pure movie magic, a feast for eyes and ears. Watch it with the one you love and you'll have a great time. It's also a great watch for fathers with their daughters thanks to the Triton-Ariel storyline. Most animated films these days are funny and stunning to look at, but hardly any reach the level of "The Little Mermaid" especially in terms of emotional impact: the longing for love, the longing for freedom, even if you have to make sacrifices for it, or just the way all kinds of human relationships are displayed metaphorically with the help of mermaids, fish and all kinds of other sea animals. Very much recommended.