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"Family" Movies

The Little Mermaid | The Secret of Roan Inish | Splash

The Little Mermaid

Amazon. The Little Mermaid. 1989 Disney classic—totally unfaithful to Andersen, but a great movie no matter how you slice it.

IMDb. User reviews are mostly raves.

A collection of Little Mermaid images.

Wikipedia: The Little Mermaid (movie). Summary, cast, songs. Debunks some of the "urban legends" associated with "subliminal" art. There's a separate entry for The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.

"The 'Little Mermaid' and the Archetype of the Lost 'Bride'" by Margaret Starbird (1999). Unchecked ramblings on the Little Mermaid, Mary Magdalene, DaVinci-Code Grail-ology, etc.

"Ariel, the "little mermaid" in the Disney® film, is much more than a fairy tale for little girls. Rather, she is a powerful metaphor for the plight of the "Sacred Feminine" over the last several thousand years of western civilization."
Apparently the tips of the Starbucks logo[1] form the MM of Mary Magdalene[2], which is later connected to the second millenium (Roman numeral MM). If the author were male and rambling about aliens, pyramids and secret societies of psychiatric Masons, we would all simply assume schizophrenia.

Amazon. The Little Mermaid II - Return to the Sea. 2000 straight-to-video sequel involving Ariel's daughter, Melody. (Disney product page)

IMDb. User review crushes it.

"If there's one thing you can count on Disney to do, it's their uncanny ability to take a story and tell it again and again and again. … Everything is just a rehash of the original movie. … I've never heard songs so bad from them before until now. And the dialogue is atrocious. It's pathetic and simplistic."

The Secret of Roan Inish

Amazon. The Secret of Roan Inish, directed by John Sayles (1995).

Editor's review: This is a charming, understated story involving a cute, unflappable little girl, the West coast of Ireland, and selkies (see the selkie page.) This is a true "family" movie, not a visual pacifier but a movie adults can take kids to and enjoy equally themselves, and not just for the Irish scenery. The director, John Sales, makes adult films and doesn't pander to the material. But the real secret here is the fine acting by all involved. The characters are simultaneously types—the no-nonsense Irish grandmother, the determined little girl—and distinct individuals with the capacity to surprise. There are no special effects to speak of; the "magic" happens and that's that! Now drink your tea before it gets cold.

IMDb. Cast, synopsis and user reviews.

Review by Rogert Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (March 1995)

"Of course this is a wonderful 'family film,' if that term has not been corrupted to mean simpleminded and shallow. Children deserve not lesser films but greater ones, because their imaginations can take in larger truths and bigger ideas."

Rotten Tomatoes. I've never seen a 100% fresh rating from rotten tomatos. You'd think that, at least, the films' competitors would be badmouthing it!

Excerpt from The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie K. Fry, the source of the movie.

Deseret News review by Chris Hicks — "utterly captivating from start to finish."

Web review by James Berardinelli.

"Before embarking on his adaptation of Rosalie K. Fry's out-of-print children's book, Sayles spent time researching the customs and language of the place where this film was to be set. His intention, from the beginning, was to create a picture in which Irish actors would not be given dialogue that seemed obviously written by a foreigner."

Web review by James Schellenberg, Science Fiction and Fantasy Reviews — "the ending was indeed touching, and a welcome departure from the kind of ending that has come to dominate movies, namely the death of a villain."

New York Times review by Stephen Holden. Holden seems to have watched the movie with mist over his eyes, writing "Fiona believes that she has found Jamie romping in the grass on Roan Inish, and she must convince the family of her vision." What makes the scene surprising is that it isn't a "vision." The scene is shot "straight." She sees him. Now it's just a question of convincing others, and catching him.

Film Education reviews the film and suggests some lesson activities.

Green Cine.

"The film will particularly appeal to children and adults who grew up listening to stories rather than watching them on television, and the special effects--including a magical transformation of a seal into a woman--are meant to replicate the imagination of a rural child unfamiliar with the excesses of mass media."

Feral Children, a fascinating site about children "raised by wolves," seals, monkeys, gazelles, and ostriches [!]. They don't say anything interesting about The Secret of Roan Inish but here's there movies page (mostly Tarzan).

I found it! The one negative review online:

"Seriously boring. I know it was supposed to be some great film or something, but I really couldn't take the drawn out pace. And at the end? she's a seal? what the hell is that supposed to mean?

Wikipedia: The Secret of Roan Inish.


Amazon DVD. Splash, starring Daryl Hannah, Tom Hanks (with John Candy). This is the "20th Anniversary Edition."

Editor's comment: I'm not going to track this one down all over the web. It's a fun, light romantic comedy.

Editor's trivia: Darryl Hannah's mermaid is named "Madison," picking that up from a Manhattan street sign. Many credit the movie with single-handedly causing the craze that made Madison the second-most popular baby name in the US in 2001–2002. See Wikipedia.

IMDb. Cast, synopsis, user reviews. User comments — "I'd give it 2 and a half stars out of 5. Maybe since I'm feeling good 3 out of 5."

Four Word Film Review. Fun site where users contribute four-word reviews and rate each others'. The current winner is "Ladykiller meets lady giller."

Positive web review by Mike Long.

"I miss Tom Hanks. I know that he's still out there making movies, so allow me to elaborate. I miss the old Tom Hanks. I miss that goofy, average Joe who made comedies and wasn't afraid of dumb, physical comedy."

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may like this other site by me:

Seahorse and Sea Dragon Central. Comprehensive guide to seahorse and sea dragons.

Angels on the Web. Images and other web resources on angels in Western culture, religion and art.

Hammerhead Shark! Hammerheads in all their glory, with a picture galery.