The beloved classic that launched a second Golden Age for Disney has aged extremely well, even with all the technical breakthroughs that have occured in animation technology in the thirty years since its release. The movie’s internal universe is extraordinarily imaginative without straying into surreal territory, while the dynamics among the characters are solidly established in the first few scenes. Additionally, the music by Alan Menken is some of the studio’s finest ever, like “Under the Sea” and the immortal “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Speaking of which, “The Little Mermaid” is also blessed with Disney’s most entertaining villain, Ursula, who is voiced by a spirited Pat Carroll like nothing could be more fun. On the way to an exciting, super-sized climax, the audience is treated to a number of delightful scenes, like Prince Eric’s shipwreck and Ariel’s transformation scene, that can still bring a smile to anyone’s face even after so many years. As an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s grim fairy tale it’s not particularly faithful, but that’s for the best since the dark themes of the original fable wouldn’t translate well into a lighthearted animated adventure like this and the changes made here actually improve the overall story.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)