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Ron Clements, John Musker
Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, Christopher Daniel Barnes
Writing Credits:
Roger Allers

A mermaid princess makes a Faustian bargain in an attempt to become human and win a prince's love.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$6,031,914 on 994 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated G.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $26.50
Release Date: 2/26/2019

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ron Clements, Writer/Director John Musker, and Composer Alan Menken
• Sing Along Mode
• Music Video
• “Alan Menken and the Leading Ladies” Featurette
• “’What I Want From You Is… Your Voice” Featurette
• “Stories from Walt’s Office” Featurette
• “#Treasures Untold” Featurette
• Deleted Character
• “Under the Scene” Featurette
• “Howard’s Lecture” Featurette
• Sneak Peek


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Little Mermaid: Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] (1989)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 1, 2023)

Would it be a stretch to call 1989’s The Little Mermaid the film that saved Disney animation? Perhaps, as 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit gave that division a much-needed shot in the arm.

However, there’s no question that Mermaid allowed the feature animation department to strut its stuff in a way not seen in decades.

Beyond its historical significance, Mermaid functions as a good but unexceptional movie. Essentially it offers a fairly traditional “someday my prince will come tale”, though with a moderately spunky twist.

At the start, we meet Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), a moderately willful daughter of mer-king Triton (Kenneth Mars). She swims to the beat of her own drummer to a degree. Though she’s supposed to perform in a big underwater ceremony, she begins the film off with her fishy friend Flounder (Jason Marin) as they ransack sunken ships for treasure, or her own interpretation of such; Ariel is fascinated by human detritus like bent forks and broken pipes.

Early in the flick, Ariel sees a burning human ship and rescues Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes). This encounter with the hunky young man accelerates her fascination with all things human, and her teenage rebelliousness leads her to act against her father’s wishes.

To gain Eric’s love, Ariel enters a pact with nasty sea-witch Ursula (Pat Carroll); Ariel will be human for a few days, but if she doesn’t get the “first kiss of true love” by a certain point, she loses her soul to Ursula. Many complications ensue, of course, but anyone who doesn’t think this sucker’ll have a happy ending isn’t very aware of Disney’s track record.

On the positive side, Mermaid offers a well-structured and paced experience. The story may be fairly trite, but the telling of it seems solid.

The animation appears smooth and vibrant, so it may not equal the best of Disney, but it seems positive across the board. Little about the tale will surprise the viewer, but it provides a mix of fairly interesting and well-acted characters.

Carroll fills out Ursula nicely and makes her into a classic Disney villain. Benson feels a little thin as Ariel, but that fits the character fairly well, since Ariel’s little more than a headstrong teen.

As such, we don’t expect her to be a very strong or forceful role. Ariel lacks depth but she remains reasonably attractive and endearing for the most part.

Probably the weakest role becomes that of Eric. Other than his pretty face, it’s hard to tell why Ariel’s so nuts about the guy, as he seems like a drab cipher.

Future Disney fare improved upon this weakness, so while there’s still too much “love at first sight” in these tales, at least we saw some sparks between the romantic leads and their affections were more affected by personality. Mermaid went more for the standard fairy tale and didn’t bother to deal with much exposition or elaboration in this regard.

Still, most of The Little Mermaid provided an entertaining and satisfying experience. The movie doesn’t reach the levels of Disney’s best work, but it helped bring the studio back to prominence, and the film was generally charming and entertaining.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+ / Bonus B

The Little Mermaid appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an appealing presentation.

Sharpness showed few concerns. The occasional wide shot appeared just a bit soft, but not to a distracting degree. Instead, the movie almost always appeared concise and well-defined.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes also seemed to be absent. Don’t look for any print flaws, as they didn’t appear.

As usual for Disney animated fare, we found no grain. I admit “degrained” animated movies generally bother me less than their live-action counterparts, but I’d still prefer to see a more natural film-like vibe.

Colors looked solid. This meant the mix of primary tones seemed lively and distinctive.

Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots demonstrated good clarity and delineation. Only the smidgen of softness knocked this one below “A”-level, as it usually presented a top-notch image.

For the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of The Little Mermaid, the soundfield offered a varied and active experience. The forward channels showed fine spread, as music demonstrated good stereo separation and presence.

Effects blended neatly and moved clearly across the speakers. Localization of these elements seemed strong, and they meshed together nicely.

The surrounds added a positive layer of reinforcement to both effects and music, especially during some of the film’s showier scenes. For example, fireworks and thunder echoed convincingly from the rear.

The rear speakers remained naturally integrated with the rest of the action. Overall, the soundfield created a vivid and involving piece.

Audio quality also seemed very good. Dialogue remained distinct and natural throughout the movie, as the speech integrated well with the animated action.

I heard no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects demonstrated good presence and depth, and they showed accurate and vibrant tones.

Music appeared warm and dynamic as well. Both the score and songs showed fine clarity, and low-end response was fairly deep and tight. Ultimately, The Little Mermaid provided a solid auditory experience.

How did the 2019 “Anniversary” Blu-ray compare to the original BD from 2013? Both came with identical audio.

Visuals largely felt similar. The 2013 disc also looked very good so the 2019 edition might feel a little livelier, but don’t expect substantial differences.

The “Anniversary” Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Ron Clement, writer/director John Musker, and composer Alan Menken. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific track. The commentary also throws in a few remarks from late composer Howard Ashman via a 1989 interview.

We find notes about visual choices and animation challenges, actors and performances, score and songs, altered/cut scenes and characters, inspirations and influences, and general trivia related to the flick. The latter element offers some fun notes like where we can find cameos from legendary Disney animated characters.

Although commentaries for animated flicks can be dry, this one never suffers from that problem. The men interact well and offer a lively little look at the movie.

Music receives a lot of attention as we learn many good notes about the score and tunes. All the other elements get their due as well in this tight and enjoyable chat.

We can watch the movie in Sing-Along Mode. As expected, this simply adds song lyrics at relevant moments. Fun?

We learn of a Deleted Character called “Harold the Merman” in a two-minute, five-second clip. Musker and Clements discuss this abandoned role and we see what he would’ve done in the final film via a short story reel. It’s actually a pretty decent segment, as it foreshadows Ursula’s “bargains” with the merpeople.

Under the Scene: The Art of Live-Action Reference goes for 13 minutes, 13 seconds and provides notes from Musker, Clements, Henn, Aquino, and actors Kathryn Beaumont, Sherri Lynn Stoner, and Joshua Finkel.

As expected, “Scene” tells us about the use of live-action reference at Disney. It covers the origins of this back in the 1930s and shows us the material featured in Mermaid. I enjoy this kind of footage, and the movie/reference shots are especially fun.

With Howard’s Lecture, we find a 16-minute, 27-second with Benson, Musker and Clement. They introduce the meat of the segment: a late 1980s “lunchtime lecture” from composer Howard Ashman as he talks about the music with animation staff. We don’t learn much here, but this becomes a cool glimpse behind the scenes.

The final five extras are new to the 2019 Blu-ray, and we start with Alan Menken and the Leading Ladies. It spans 15 minutes, 45 seconds and offers notes from Menken, and actors Jodi Benson, Paige O’Hara, Judy Kuhn, Lillias White and Donna Murphy.

We get notes about music and performances. This becomes a fun panel, especially because all of the participants sit together for the chat.

”What I Want From You Is… Your Voice goes for five minutes, 47 seconds and shows footage from the Mermaid recording studio. It comes an enjoyable view of these sessions.

With Stories from Walt’s Office, we find a six-minute, one-second reel that provides info from Walt Disney Archives director Rebecca Cline and Walt Disney Archives archivist Edward Ovalle.

This piece gives us a glimpse of Walt’s extensive collection of miniatures. We find a good look at this aspect of Disney’s life.

#TreasuresUntold spans five minutes, 40 seconds. Hosted by Ruby Rose Turner and Olivia Sanabia of Coop and Cami Ask the World, they lead us through some Mermaid trivia. It becomes a cutesy, kid-oriented piece but some nuggets emerge.

Finally, we locate a music video for “Part of Your World” from Dcapella. As implied by their name, this offers a vocal group, though their rendition of “World” includes some instrumentation so it doesn’t become purely a capella. Still, it’s a twist on the tune’s usual presentation.

The disc opens with an ad for Dumbo (2019). No trailer for Mermaid appears here.

Does the “Anniversary” Blu-ray lose anything from the 2013 release? Yup – and lots, though technically these can be accessed online. If it ain’t on the disc, it doesn’t exist from my POV.

The Little Mermaid does not work as well as some later Disney works, but it seems generally entertaining and compelling. It also deserves a warm spot in the hearts of Disney fans because it helped return the Disney animated department to prominence. The Blu-ray offers pretty strong picture and audio along with a fairly informative collection of supplements – albeit one that loses a lot from earlier releases. As a presentation of the movie, this “Anniversary Edition” feels fairly similar to a prior version, but its omission of many extras makes it problematic.

To rate this film, visit the original review of THE LITTLE MERMAID

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