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The Screening Room
little mermaid 2
THE STUDIO GATE
In 1994, Disney decided to release made-for-video sequels to their animated feature films. Much to the chagrin of Disney animation die hards, the studio pressed on and produced a number of movies. Most of them have been pale attempts at trying to capture the magic of the originals. Some have been questionably made, especially considering the original movies weren't good at all.

The hardest thing to watch have been sequels to some of Disney's classics. The "Cinderella" sequel and prequel weren't necessary to make, for example. Walt Disney didn't like to produce sequels to his hit films. He felt that the stories were told completely.

"The Little Mermaid" (1989) was a grand return to Disney's quality animation. It had all the elements of great fairy tale with a happy ending. What makes "The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea" so difficult to watch is how it breaks convention. The made-for-video has been re-released on DVD.

The first mistake the sequel makes is showing Ariel, once the feisty and headstrong mermaid, as married and settled. She and Prince Eric have a baby, Melody. "The Little Mermaid" through this act of betraying the audience's belief in a character, has jumped the shark. It's always a danger sign when the main characters either get married and/or have a baby. Ariel & Eric already got married in the 1989 classic. I'd rather suspend my belief and let the story end right there. Disney, however, thought otherwise. Ariel has become a bore and a worry wart. This is not your mother's Ariel.

Secondary characters, like Melody, are hardly ever as good and interesting at their parents. Okay, Eric was pretty much typical of Disney's princes. He's there for plot development and that's about it. As for the spawn of our favorite characters, they're used as an excuse to sell more Ariel dolls. Kids, and sometimes their parents, realize that characters like Melody aren't all that interesting. She's cute, but she's merely a bland copy of her mother. "But mommy, 1989 Ariel is so much more fun!"

Like most parents, my wife bought "The Little Mermaid II" back in 2000 for our young daughter. She didn't watch much television when she was 2, but this DVD caught her attention. We probably watched it a hundred times. The movie has some merits worth mentioning. Although the animation is occasionally rough, the colors and backgrounds are done with an eye for detail. The music and compositions are of high quality, though it's easy to miss Alan Menken & Howard Ashman's song and music writing.

The character of Melody is okay, but she quickly gets on one's nerves. Voiced by the talented Tara Strong (Timmy in "The Fairly Odd Parents"), she's just a bit too cute for my taste. Morgana, Ursula's sister we didn't know about, is merely a carbon copy of her bigger  and meaner sis. She's voiced by Pat Carroll who also provided Ursula's wonderful voice and personality. Sebastian the crab is back, voiced by Samuel E. Wright. He's put through pretty much the same adventure as undertook in the original film. Another plot development in the movie involves two outcast characters, Tip (Max Casella) and Dash (Stephen Furst). They're unnecessary to the plot and are clearly aimed at small children.

"The Little Mermaid II" is passable entertainment for tykes, but for older children, it might not pass muster. I sat down with my daughter to watch it again. She didn't remember it, despite seeing it so many times. I guess it didn't make as much of an impression on her as the other video she loved, "It's Potty Time!" The Ariel/Melody sequel might not hold up well, but at least for me, it brought back some memories.           
  
        
Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: BVHE. All rights reserved.
DVD Quick Glimpse

cover


MOVIE

Not as bad as some Disney traditionalists thought, but still not great

TALENT
Director: Jim Kammerud  

Cast: Jodi Benson, Samuel E. Wright, Tara Strong (as Tara Charendoff), Pat Carroll, Buddy Hackett, Kenneth Mars  

FEATURES
A new game, storybook and more

RATING
G

DVD
Picture: Excellent
Sound: Very Good

GEEK OUT
Most of the original cast returns

TECH SPECS
Aspect Ratio (1.66:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

DVD RELEASE DATE
December 16, 2008
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