The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning

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The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
How is this Ariel's beginning, exactly?
Genre: Animated
Directed By: Peggy Holmes
Produced By: Kendra Halland
Written By: Robert Reece
Evan Spiliotopoulos
Based On: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
Starring: Jodi Benson
Samuel E. Wright
Sally Field
Jim Cummings
Parker Goris
Tara Strong
Jennifer Hale
Lorelei Hill Butters
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Runtime: 77 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Franchise: The Little Mermaid
Prequel: The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (by release date)
Sequel: The Little Mermaid (chronologically)

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (also titled as its working title, The Little Mermaid III) is a 2008 American animated direct-to-video fantasy film produced by DisneyToon Studios, and a prequel to the Disney animated film The Little Mermaid and the third and final installment in The Little Mermaid trilogy and the first in the chronology of the story running through the series. With the animation production being done by Toon City Animation and DisneyToon Studios Australia, the film was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on August 26, 2008.


A grief-stricken King Triton outlaws music in the wake of the death of his wife, Athena. When Flounder discovers that the irrepressible Sebastian has been singing at an illegal undersea speakeasy in defiance of the king's decree, Ariel struggles to sneak out without getting caught by the royal court's maniacal nanny, Marina Del Rey.

Why It Has A Bad Beginning

  1. This prequel to The Little Mermaid is very unnecessary, since it does not explain anything from the first film, aside from what happened to the mother and how Ariel and Flounder met; even the latter did not need to be explained, as the viewer can easily infer from the first film that they have been close friends for at least some time.
    • What's even more unnecessary of this film is that The Little Mermaid already had a prequel TV show back in 1992 called The Little Mermaid: The Series, which at least is far more faithful to the original 1989 film than this film is and lacked all the continuity errors this film had as mentioned below (see WIS #2). In fact, this film heavily ignores and retcons practically everything that The Little Mermaid prequel TV show had previously established, such as how Ariel and Flounder met; in the TV show they first met when Ariel was a little girl, but this film retcons this by having the two first meet when Ariel is a teenager instead.
  2. Continuity error: In the original film, it is inferable from the lyrics of the song "Daughters of Triton" that their birth order started from Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, and Alana, and ended with Ariel; here, the birth order is different.
  3. The premise of the music being banned in town is basically a rehash of Footloose, but with underwater setting on it.
  4. Ariel's motives feel weak, as she wants to bring music back to Atlantica... all because she is just bored of everything.
    • Speaking of Ariel, she is hardly ever interested in humanity and collecting human objects unlike the first film and the 1992 TV series, which not only heavily goes against her character as established in the first film, as well as leaving huge plot holes on how Ariel developed an interest in humanity between the events of this film and the first film.
  5. At times, the film lacks subtlety when it comes to rubbing into the viewer's face that Marina absolutely hates her job by having her explicitly say so, when it was already implied within the film.
  6. Very poor editing in specific scenes, with Athena's death being done in a very awkward edit which was done for some reason instead of simply cutting to a black screen, and there being an overuse of a specific cringe-worthy visual effect which would make the human brain feel weird and a bit dizzy upon seeing it in the "Jump in the Line" scene.
  7. There are no any new songs, in a film in The Little Mermaid franchise, with some of them being slightly reworked versions of famous conga songs... such as "Jump in the Line".
  8. There is a really pointless subplot of one of Ariel's sisters wanting to... kiss a boy.
  9. While the digital ink and paint animation is very impressive and stays mostly true to the look of the first film, the visuals of the music box, which appear to be computer-animated, feel rather out-of-place and unacceptable in a traditionally-animated film.
  10. Flounder have been flanderized and acts very inconsistent with the way he is portrayed in the first film, as he is now rebellious and all about jamming to music and is nothing like the cowardly guppy he previously was in the first film; he is also a little annoying in this film.
    • On top of that, his new voice actor, Parker Goris, doesn't sounds anything like Jason Marinn, his voice actor in the original film.
  11. Marina Del Rey is a weak antagonist who has weak motives and a weak personality and feels like an inferior version of Ursula from The Little Mermaid and Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove.
  12. King Triton is flanderized from a stern but caring overprotective father with a heart of gold into a complete jerk to both Ariel and her sisters, due to him banning music in Atlantica and treating them harshly throughout the entire film due to him unable to let go of his deceased wife until the film's ending.
  13. While nice, the cameo of Scuttle comes across as unnecessary.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. All of Ariel's sisters from the first film return and are given larger roles and unique personalities, and all of them are utilized well.
  2. As stated earlier, just like with many of the other DisneyToons animated productions, the animation is impressive and stays mostly true to the look of the first film, and its animation quality is a massive improvement over the previous sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.
  3. Despite her motives being weak, Ariel is a much more relatable character than ever.
  4. The voice performance is decent, thanks to Jodi Benson and Samuel E. Wright reprise their roles as Ariel and Sebastian.
  5. The scene had a somewhat decent backstory to how Ariel’s mother died.


The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning received negative reviews with criticism aimed at the script, the music score and glaring continuity errors from the first film which often resulted in plot holes in-between this film and the first film, but the animation quality and voice performances were praised.


  • Kenneth Mars, King Triton's original voice actor, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during production of this film and thus could not reprise his role as King Triton in this film, hence Jim Cummings took over as the voice of the character (MODERATOR'S NOTE: There needs to be a legitimate, reliable source for this explanation as to why Mars couldn't reprise his role as Triton; no, its Wikipedia article does not count, it does not have a source for that, either). Mars passed away on February 12, 2011, at the age of 75.
  • It was originally planned to make Ariel more "contemporary" during the development of this prequel; however, voice actress Jodi Benson fought to have Ariel retain her characteristic rebelliousness (MODERATOR'S NOTE: There also needs to be a legitimate, reliable source for this, too).
  • This film is notable as the final DisneyToons Studios-produced direct-to-video film based on a film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, following the decision from John Lasseter, then Chief Creative Officer of the Disney feature animation department, to put an end to the production of Disney direct-to-video sequels in 2007, resulting in the cancellation of Chicken Little 2, The Aristocats 2 and Dumbo 2[1].
  • This was also both the last time that Samuel E. Wright voiced Sebastian, and his last acting role overall before his death in 2021.
  • In the United Kingdom, the word "spastic" was cut from an interactive game in the extra features of the DVD and Blu-Ray releases by the BBFC to achieve a "U" rating. An uncut version was available rated "12".
    • The word appears uncensored in all versions of the full-length feature.
  • The film's working title was The Little Mermaid III, and it was originally scheduled for a mid-2007 release. When John Lasseter took over Disney Animation, more resources were spent on completing Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and attention only returned to this film in July 2006 after the wrap up of Cinderella III.
  • A teaser trailer and musical preview of the film (an alternate version of "Jump in the Line") were attached to the Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid, which was released in October 2006. At the time, the working title The Little Mermaid III was still being used.


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