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The Little Mermaid (movie)
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The Little Mermaid (movie)

The Little Mermaid is a 1989 Walt Disney animated film adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Little Mermaid." Grossing over $80 million domestically, this movie is given credit for breathing life back into the animated movie genre after a string of critical and commercial failures (The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective), signaling the start of a decade-long period of successful Disney movies.

Table of contents
1 Plot
2 Awards
3 Voice Cast
4 Songs
5 Dirty Jokes (Urban legends debunked)
6 TV and Sequel
7 External Link


Warning: Plot details follow.

Prince Eric (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes) discusses the merpeople with his friend Grimsby and sailors on a day at sea. Merpeople converge on a great undersea palace, filling the concert hall inside.

A seahorse announces the presence of King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars), and his court composer, a Jamaican-accented crab named Sebastian (voiced by Samuel E. Wright).

Six of Triton's daughters appear to announce that their little sister Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) is singing a song Sebastian wrote. A shell opens to reveal that Ariel is gone! But the red-haired mermaid cannot hear her father just because she's actually exploring a sunken ship with her fish, Flounder (voiced by Jason Marin).

Ariel tells Flounder to watch for sharks, but Flounder suddenly sees a skull and crashes into a pillar, causing a cave-in. She finds a bizarre-looking fork (dinglehopper) and puts it in her bag. The shark chases the two all around until they meet a seagull, Scuttle (voiced by Buddy Hackett), who knows everything about humans...but not about their things. She also shows him what looks like a pipe (actually called a snarfblat).

Scuttle blows into the pipe to make music, but seaweed comes out the other end. Ariel warns that the concert is today and Triton is going to kill her. We see the half-octopus Ursula the Sea Witch (voiced by Pat Carroll) and her eel friends Flotsam and Jetsam (voiced by Paddi Edwards) watch a magic projection of Ariel swimming.

When Ariel gets home, Triton scolds her for going up to the surface and says she could have been seen by a "barbarian" - a human. She tells him she's sixteen years old and not a child anymore. But as long as she lives under Triton's ocean, she'll obey his rules.

Sebastian explains to Triton that he wasn't too hard on Ariel and that if she was his daughter, he'd show her who's boss. Ariel needs constant supervision and Sebastian must watch over her, keep her out of trouble. Walking down a corridor, he says he should be writing symphonies and not tagging along after some headstrong teenager.

Sebastian barely makes it into Ariel's grotto and sees her human collection, right before the song Part of Your World. What the crab doesn't know is what would happen if Triton knew about the grotto or the treasures. We then see the surface, along with fireworks in the sky. Ariel looks on. Sebastian and Flounder arrive. As she swims to the ship where a party is being thrown, Sebastian tells her to please come back. She then sees Eric's sheepdog, Max.

Grimsby stops the party and presents the prince with a very large and very expensive birthday gift: a statue of Eric. Eric tells Grimsby he didn\'t fall in love with the princess of Glauerhaven. Lightning and thunder appear and the sky grows dark; a sailor warns of a hurricane coming. The ship crashes and all but Max are thrown overboard.

Ariel finds Eric nearly drowning and pulls him away and towards shore. On the beach, Ariel is sitting next to an unconscious Eric. When she asks if he's dead, Scuttle opens his eyelid and checks his foot for a heartbeat. Ariel proceeds to sing him a beautiful love song - and he seems to like it!

Knowing she can't survive on land, Ariel swims back to the sea. In their dressing room (or perhaps bedroom), one of Ariel's sisters calls her to come out. The same sister tells Triton Ariel's in love. We see Ariel playing "Loves Me, Loves Me Not" by picking petals off a flower.

Sebastian warns Ariel that the ocean is her home and the human world is a mess, and then sings Under the Sea. Ariel seems uninterested in the melody and swims off when Flounder tells her about something he found in her grotto. The seahorse tells Sebastian he got an urgent call from Triton and says he wants to see Sebastian. But then Triton starts yelling at Sebastian.

Ariel has a romantic interlude with the statue of Eric thinking it's the prince. When she unexpectedly sees Triton, he scolds her again - this time for rescuing a human from drowning. Suddenly Triton gets enraged and destroys many of Ariel's treasures one after another with his trident until he has one thing left to destroy...the statue. He leaves, ashamed, and Ariel starts crying.

Sebastian walks up to Ariel, but she tells him to go away. He leaves, along with Flounder, and Flotsam and Jetsam - who represent someone who can help her and make all her dreams come true - appear. They take her to the garden of souls in Ursula's cavern. She sees large numbers of captive seaweed creatures in the cavern.

Ursula makes a deal with Ariel to turn her into a human for three days. Before the sun sets on the third day, Ariel will have to get Eric to fall in love with her and kiss her. If this happens on the third day, she will remain human forever. If not, she will turn back into a mermaid and become Ursula's property. Flounder and Sebastian have followed her into Ursula's lair and are alarmed at what they're hearing.

Ariel sings while giant magical hands rip out her voice and give it to Ursula. She laughs as Ariel is changed into a human (she can no longer breathe underwater) and rushed to the surface by Flounder and Sebastian. Scuttle tells Ariel that if she wants to be a human for the first thing, she must dress like one. Ariel tries to tell Eric her name, but nothing comes out. She is found by another human, Carlotta (voiced by Edie McClurg), who happens to be one of Eric's servants and thinks Ariel's been washed up from a shipwreck.

Ariel comes to the castle dining room in a beautiful dress and uses her knowledge on dinglehoppers. Carlotta tells her the chef's been fixing his favorite specialty, stuffed crab. The chef is Louis (voiced by Rene Auberjonois), a crazy French-accented man.

We see Sebastian watch Louis cook. Sebastian hops back and Louis grabs him again. Sebastian pinches him in the nose and a chase ensues. Louis knocks over a large cabinet. Back in Triton's undersea palace, the seahorse swims up to him and insists that they've found no trace of Ariel or Sebastian. One morning at the castle, Ariel and Eric leave for their tour. Ariel is amazed by everything she sees.

Ariel and Eric go dancing and see the town. After that, they leave and Ariel drives, almost crashing. They end up rowing on a still lagoon in the evening. But Eric hasn't even kissed Ariel yet. Scuttle flies over and sings very badly. Just as they are about to kiss, the boat they are in tips over; Flotsam and Jetsam congratulate each other.

Relived over the interruption but worried over the potential for Ariel and Eric to escape the fatal pact, Ursula transforms into a human with Ariel's voice. Eric is playing the flute and contemplating as Grimsby approaches. He is distracted by Ursula (now Vanessa) singing with Ariel's voice and is placed under her spell.

Warned about Eric marrying Vanessa, Ariel hears Ursula's voice in her head as the sun drops. Meanwhile Scuttle has enthusiastically gone to Eric's ship, where he and Vanessa are to be married. He becomes alarmed when he sees a reflection of a laughing Ursula in the mirror which Vanessa is facing, and quickly reports back to Ariel and Sebastian.

Suddenly Ariel has to find a way to stall the wedding. We see the wedding in progress. Max growls at Vanessa but she kicks him. Meanwhile, Scuttle has alerted a large group of sea animals, including many birds, to follow him, and Sebastian has gone down to warn King Triton.

A minister in a priest's clothing asks Eric if he takes Vanessa to be his lawfully wedded wife, for as long as they both live, and the prince says yes. Birds and animals led by Scuttle swoop in for attack, disrupting the wedding and causing great chaos. The animals are still wreaking havoc when Ariel, dragged by Flounder to the ship, comes aboard. In the struggle, the shell holding Ariel's voice is broken and it goes back to her. Eric comes out of the spell as she sings.

The sun sets and Ariel becomes a mermaid; she and Ursula go overboard. Triton, who has been informed by Sebastian of Ursula's treachery, stops Ursula and tells her to let Ariel go. He tries to blast Ursula's petition with his trident, but to no avail. The petition is legal, binding and completely unbreakable - even for Triton. Angry over nearly being tricked by Ursula, Eric dives in to fight the sea witch and save Ariel.

Triton signs the contract, Ariel is released and the old merman is withered into a peace of seawed as Ursula laughs. Ursula steals his crown and trident. No sooner does she gloat over her victory than Eric proceeds to hit her with a harpoon. Ursula blasts Flotsam and Jetsam by accident. She then gets even bigger from under the sea.

Now Ursula is ruler of all the ocean and the waves obey her every whim. She wreaks havoc, creates a whirlpool and raises some shipwrecks. Eric manages to swim and board one of the ships, which has a sharp stick at the end. As Ursula is about to finish Ariel, Eric steers the ship into her. She is impaled and dies most horribly. Eric collapses on the shore. The trident falls back to Triton and everything reverts to normal; the captured seaweed creatures, including Triton himself, turn back into merpeople.

Triton turns Ariel into a human and she goes to meet Eric. They finally get married and everyone is happy. Sebastian is attacked by Louis. He beats Louis up and returns to the sea. Ariel and Triton hug, followed by the big finale where "Part of Your World" music plays. The ship sails off as Ariel and Eric kiss. The End.


The Little Mermaid won the Academy Award for Original Music Score in 1989 and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.

Voice Cast


Dirty Jokes (Urban legends debunked)

TV and Sequel

External Link