My wife and I recently let our daughter watch The Little Mermaid for the first time. She had already been familiar with Ariel from various books and from general exposure to the Disney Channel. When we proposed it to her she was excited to see the "Ariel Movie." This also served as a re-introduction to the movie for me. I hadn't watched The Little Mermaid since just after it came out — which is over 20 years ago. The movie has not changed but I have and it is a very different viewing experience for me.
I used to think, "Man, King Triton is a dick." Now I think, "Dammit, King Triton just loves his little girl so much. Sure, he's being a little unreasonable but I can see why he made those choices." The ending? Forget about it. He's letting his little girl go forever. His broken heart is nothing compared to her happiness. I feel ya, King Triton. I feel ya.
On the other hand, Ariel is only 16. What the holy hell? They make a point about telling us she's 16 several times. No 16 year-old should ever get married. This movie didn't come out in 1949, it came out in 1989. Sixteen was way too young to get married even then (and I'm from Indiana). Are there laws of consent in Atlantica or whatever Prince Eric's kingdom is called?
Where the hell are Prince Eric's parents? All we see is the butler. If his parents are dead he should be King Eric. Just sayin'.
Also, there are lots of dead parents in Disney movies.
My 2 year-old is a pretty cool customer. At the end when Ursula gets real big and tries to kill Ariel, Scarlett just looks at me and says, "Ursula is not very nice." Indeed, kiddo, indeed.
It seems like there should have been a much better way for Ariel to become a human than making a deal with Ursula but this was really the only way it could have happened. No amount of pleading and crying would have convinced King Triton to turn Ariel into a human so she could be with Prince Eric. Ariel had to make this deal for her father to understand just how much she wanted this. This feels like a life lesson for fathers everywhere: LET YOUR DAUGHTERS BECOME HUMAN.
Also, a lot of this silliness could have been avoided if Ariel had bothered to negotiate even a little bit. How does the daughter of a king not have any training in negotiation and/or politics? Related point: Someone that naive is NOT ready for marriage, regardless of age.
Maybe I've been doing it wrong, but it took me way more than three days to fall in love with Dee and decide to marry her. I know the movie gets really long if Ursula gives Ariel the standard amount of time for people to fall in love but c'mon. That's what montages are for. Three days? That's a terrible deal that Ariel should never have taken. Also, let's talk about Prince Eric for a second. He fell in love with a vague notion of a woman and a voice while recovering from a near-death experience. He didn't think once that it might have been the sights and sounds of the afterlife? I'm not saying there is an afterlife, but Prince Eric seems like the kind of guy who would believe in that kind of stuff. However, if Prince Eric is an atheist then good on you Disney.
People give Disney shit for portraying their princesses as women who can only find worth by marrying a man — rightfully so — but who the hell are these princes who are ready to propose to a woman after a brief encounter? I mean, the Prince from Cinderella (another movie Scarlett is obsessed with right now) is willing to marry the first woman whose foot fits in a discarded shoe? Prince Eric is willing to marry a voice? Guys, you're princes. Let's be a little more picky. Especially you, nameless prince from Cinderella. I know those shoes were custom made for Cinderella but there's got to be at least one other girl in the kingdom who has feet her size. If this guy is going to eventually run a kingdom, he's going to get destroyed on the battlefield by anyone with half a brain.
Also, check out Cinderella's feet throughout that movie. They're tiny. There's no way she's not toppling over all the time if she was not just a drawing.