Abita Christmas Ale – One of my Christmas gifts from my grandparents was a basket of holiday seasonal beers. The Abita Christmas Ale was my last one from the basket. This might be my favorite of the beers that were in the basket. It was heavier than other holiday brews that I have tried, almost like an amber or dark ale, and more flavorful than the others as well. According to Abita, the recipe changes every year, so I think I will try to check it again next holiday season. Verdict: Enjoyed it.
Ariel (Jodi Benson (voice)), a mermaid princess, falls in love with Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes (voice)), a human. She strikes a deal with the sea-witch Ursula (Pat Carroll (voice)) and exchanges her voice for a pair of legs so she can be on land and win Eric’s heart.
Given the 80s theme going on this blog lately, I decided to watch one of the last animated films to come out of the decade: The Little Mermaid. I received the blu-ray several months ago and just got around to watching it. I grabbed my little sister (the other ginger of the family) and we sat down to watched our favorite red-headed princess together. Apparently, it had been some time since we both had seen it. When it was finished she remarked, “that’s just good as I remember.” I simply replied, “well, yeah!”
There are two big reasons why this movie works so well: the characters and the music. The characters are charming, relatable, and simply put, so much fun. Ariel is cheerful and venturesome. She doesn’t like to stay still and is always looking for her next adventure. Flounder is the Piglet to Ariel’s Pooh Bear; he’s easily scared but will do anything for his friends. Sebastian is everyone’s favorite crustacean who acts as the buffer between Ariel’s whimsical personality and her father. King Triton is the protective father who will do anything to keep his daughters safe. Eric is the noble prince who will stop at nothing to find his perfect princess. Ursula is mystifying and magically powerful. I think most of us can find a little part of one or more of these characters we can relate to, maybe even Ursula…
Disney is well known for great musical numbers. Some of my favorite come from the era known as the Disney Renaissance and are written by the composer Alan Menken. Menken worked on many of the Renaissance-era films, including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Howard Ashman was Menken’s other composing-half until Ashman’s passing in 1991. Together, they created one of Disney’s best soundtracks with instant classics like “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” and “Kiss the Girl.” I’ve also always enjoyed “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” In standard Disney fashion, you will be singing the songs long after you have finished watching the movie.
The Little Mermaid introduces all the major characters within the first fifteen minutes or so. This gives us plenty of time to spend with them. It was much faster paced than I remember. That works well because it keeps the story moving. At the same time, it doesn’t move too fast. It does a great job of balancing character development and story progression.
Most of the film takes place underwater (as you would expect in a story about a mermaid). The animation perfectly captures this environment. None of the movements are stiff or unnatural, they were always smooth and flowing. The animators used live actors for references to sketch, much like Walt Disney used in his early films. It really paid off because characteristics, such as hair movement under water or body movement while swimming, looked and behaved exactly as you would expect it to in real life.
I would have liked to hear just a little bit more of Ursula’s back story. She mentions how she used to be in the palace but was banished. A quick few sentences about what she did in the palace and what happened that caused her banishment would have fleshed out her comments and her character. The deleted scenes contained some of this information but obviously those didn’t make it into the final cut. It doesn’t take away from her character or the story so I don’t think it is a huge deal.
I thought The Little Mermaid was GREAT :-D. There is very little to knock in this film. All the characters are well written, it moves quickly but never feels rushed, the music is infectious and the animation is beautiful. What a way to kick off one of Disney’s best periods of animation!
Cast & Crew
Ron Clements – Writer / Director
John Musker – Writer / Director
Alan Menken – Composer
Howard Ashman – Composer
Jodi Benson – Ariel (voice)
Christopher Daniel Barnes – Eric (voice)
Pat Carroll – Ursula (voice)
Kenneth Mars – Triton (voice)
Samuel E. Wright – Sebastian (voice)
Jason Marin – Flounder (voice)
Buddy Hackett – Scuttle (voice)
Paddi Edwards – Flotsam & Jetsam (voice)
Ben Wright – Grimsby (voice)