The Little Mermaid | Chicago Reader

The Little Mermaid

A Valley-girl mermaid, living underwater with an imperious king for a father and a diminutive black servant (a Jamaican crab), falls in love with a surfer-type above-water prince and strikes a deal with a witch that entails giving up her voice in exchange for an all-human form. That¢s the premise of this lively and tacky Disney animation (1989), very loosely based on the Andersen fairy tale. Other characters include a befuddled seagull (with the voice of Buddy Hackett), a sadistic French chef, and a friendly fish called Flounder. Within the apparently necessary aesthetic and ideological limitations (such as making the hero and heroine Americans surrounded by foreign servants a la Pinocchio), the animation manages to be fairly energetic.

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