Disney and a Beer: The Little Mermaid

The Beer
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.

The Movie

The Little Mermaid movie posterSynopsis
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)

Disney and a Beer: Tangled

The Beer
Harpoon Chocolate Stout – Chocolate flavored beers aren’t my beer of choice, but Harpoon Chocolate Stout was good. The chocolate flavoring wasn’t as powerful as other chocolate stouts I’ve had before, making it one of the better ones. Verdict: Enjoyed it.

The Movie

Tangled movie posterSynopsis
Rapunzel (Mandy Moore (voice)) has been kept in a tower hidden deep in the woods by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy (voice)) for eighteen years. When Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi (voice)) stumbles upon her tower, she makes a deal with him to help her discover the world she has been concealed from.

Ever since the end of the Disney Renaissance, not many Disney films were as successful at capturing the magic in those films. Everything began to turn around with The Princess and the Frog, but Disney began to once again hit their stride with Tangled. Offering the humor, music, and lovable characters like many Disney favorites, Tangled proved that there is still a place for new princesses in Disney’s pantheon.

The animation of this film is one of Disney’s best. I really enjoy how vibrant the colors are. It is a great contrast to the awesome animation of How to Train Your Dragon, which was released the same year. Where HtTYD excelled in dark contrasts, Tangled keeps things full of light and color. Many of the scenes take place in the woods, so there are a lot of greens. Even in the city, the orange and similar colors of the roads and building really stand out. I’d me remised if I didn’t mention Rapunzel’s hair. Everything with the animation just worked.

Disney is very good at creating memorable animal sidekicks. Maximus and Pascal easily are near the top of that list. Like most animal sidekicks, they don’t say anything (at least verbally). But let’s be honest, they don’t really have to. They say enough with their body language. Maximus is the loyal horse of the Royal Guard, tirelessly pursuing Flynn Rider. The chameleon Pascal is Rapunzel’s best friend who keeps Maximus in line and helps Rapunzel with anything she needs. They are both great individually, but as a pair, they are comedic gold.

Flynn Rider not your usual fairy tale hero. He’s a thief. Now I know that has been done before, Aladdin for example. But the difference is that Flynn is a thief because he wants to be, not because he needs to be. His reasons for helping Rapunzel initially are purely selfish. His transformation is predicable, but hey, it’s a Disney movie. What did you expect?

Alan Menken composed the scores for many of the films from the Disney Renaissance. So it’s no surprise that the music of Tangled is amazing. There are so many unforgettable songs, like “When Will My Life Begin,” “Mother Knows Best,” and “I See the Light.” The soundtrack is very reminiscent of songs from Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.

There is a lot to love about Tangled. Stunningly gorgeous animation and fun, memorable characters make this a can’t-miss film.


Rapunzel’s hair measures 70 feet (21.3 meters) long and is comprised of more than 100,000 individual strands. Special software had to be created to simulate the hair movement because animating that much hair had never been done before.


Cast & Crew
Nathan Greno – Director
Bryon Howard – Director
Dan Fogelman – Screenplay
Mark Kennedy – Head of Story
Dean Wellins – Additional Story
Alan Menken – Composer

Mandy Moore – Rapunzel (voice)
Zachary Levi – Flynn Rider (voice)
Donna Murphy – Mother Gothel (voice)
Ron Perlman – Stabbington Brother (voice)
MC Gainey – Captain of the Guard (voice)
Jeffrey Tambor – Big Nose Thug (voice)
Brad Garrett – Hook Hand Thug (voice)
Paul F. Tompkins – Short Thug (voice)
Richard Kiel – Vlad (voice)
Delaney Rose Stein – Young Rapunzel (voice)

The Fairy Tale Blogathon: Enchanted Review

Fritzi over at Movies Silently is hosting a blogathon that is everything fairy tale.  I didn’t hesitate to jump in and review the fairy tale movie I have been wanting to watch for a while: Enchanted.  Although it is not a direct adaptation of a specific fairy tale, it contains many of the basic notions of the classics.  To read the other entries in this blogathon, head over to Movies Silently by clicking on the Fairy Tale Blogathon banner below. While you’re there, peruse Fritzi’s site a little bit to see someone who appreciates and celebrates silent era of film history.

Enchanted mvoie posterSynopsisfairy-tale-blogathon-glass-slipper
Giselle (Amy Adams) is on her way to her wedding with Prince Edward (James Marsden) when his evil stepmother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), transports her from the animated world of Andalasia to New York City in the live-action world. There, she meets Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter, Morgan (Rachel Convey). After spending some time together, Giselle and Robert begin to change each others view on true love.

Enchanted begins in an interesting place. Normally, it would be the end of the fairy tale, when the prince and princess get married. However, here that is just the beginning. It is a good way to get into the mindset of soon-to-be-princess Giselle. So when she gets into the “real world” and meets Robert, there is a clear change between her character in the beginning and her character at the end. Speaking of Giselle, I really like Amy Adams as Giselle. She clearly has a fun time with character and capturing Giselle’s storybook innocence. It is easy to tell this was a Disney movie because it had several tropes from classic Disney fairy tales, including, but not limited to, a poison apple, evil stepmother, and true love’s kiss.

This movie is a stepping stone to where Disney’s more recent movies have been going about the idea of true love. It looks like it will end not how you think, then Disney plays it safe and it ends exactly how you think it will. My favorite part about the film was how out-of-water the characters from Andalasia were in New York City, especially Prince Edward. I had a good time watching Prince Edward try to start singing in the middle of the park, only to get weird looks, exemplifying the difference between our world and theirs. Enchanted is an entertaining romp through a non-traditional Disney fairy tale that parodies the Disney classics.



Cast & Crew
Kevin Lima – Director
Bill Kelly – Writer
Alan Menken – Score Composer
Stephen Schwartz – Lyricist

Amy Adams – Giselle
Patrick Dempsey – Robert Philip
James Marsden – Prince Edward
Timothy Spall – Nathaniel
Idina Menzel – Nancy Tremaine
Rachel Covey – Morgan Philip
Susan Sarandon – Queen Narissa
Julie Andrews – Narrator (voice)
Jeff Bennett – Pip (voice in Andalasia)
Kevin Lima – Pip (voice in New York)