17 October 2008 | nevadaluke
Six Star(fish) Family Treat
One day, the spunky preteen sleuth of Serenity Falls sets her sights on winning a $300 "Junior Reporting" prize offered by the local newspaper. And so, when a beautiful young mute woman turns up one morning in her birthday suit apparently suffering amnesia and loitering at the door of the village's preeminent sushi chef -- well, what's a fledgling newsperson to do except get to the bottom of such a juicy mystery?
And so "Roxy Hunter and the Myth of the Mermaid Movie" is off and swimming.
In this third home video release in the "Roxy" franchise, Director Eleanor Lindo provides Aria Wallace as the title character with a well-crafted story that parents and their tots can enjoy on various levels. The capable supporting cast dishes up well-tuned comedy bits, an intriguing romantic conflict for Roxy's lovely young widowed mom (Robin Bǔlė) and a plot that unfolds with a worthwhile environmental theme.
There's even time for a show-stopping song-and-dance number in front of a world map as Roxy and the helpful town Librarian (Julian Richings) try to nudge the mystery girl's memory to help her recall where she came from.
As the title suggests, Roxy eventually deduces that she's dealing with a creature of mythology * not surprisingly, when the beautiful visitor lets out with a few haunting vocal interludes that utterly entrance Roxy's pal the medical-student barista (Vik Sahay), who falls under her Siren spell.
With only one word of dialog, Ashleigh Rains is enchanting as the putative Lost Girl From the Deep, and Sahay realizes a marvelous comic suitor. Alas, it's a one-sided romance, all meant to deliver the message that "toxic waste is not good for mermaids or other living things." As the precocious Roxy, Miss Wallace inhabits a character who only occasionally would seem to deserve a mild jerk of the chain to remind her of her manners.
And, in what is from the outset a police case, Lindo faces the delicate task of delivering a fantasy set in the real world. It's not giving anything away to point out that the climax will have attentive viewers aged in the double digits and beyond guessing for a moment how Miss Rains' character resolves her situation: Does she peel off her jeans and gambol off into the waves, or halt in the surf and whip out her undercover officer's badge? Turns out that's a good thing.
One final issue about the editing of this movie.
While it is apparently delivered in its 1-hour, 33-minute running time to fit into a two-hour cable TV window, it is bundled with a clutch of deleted scenes that would seem indispensable to a well-rounded movie experience. For instance, one of those scenes more fully explains the romantic predicament ensnaring Roxy's mom. Another pays off the MacGuffin -- that is, it resolves Roxy's quest for the Young Reporter prize far more satisfactorily than the framing device of the final cut. I believe that viewers of all ages would enjoy this movie better if all the scenes from the cutting room floor were re-edited into the home video release.
All in all, with long fall and winter nights on the way, parents and caregivers could do far worse than curl up with their young charges in front of a warm monitor and enjoy watching the irrepressible Roxy Hunter crack her latest case.