The Little Mermaid (GoodTimes)

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The Little Mermaid (GoodTimes)
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That's not The Little Mermaid that we all know and love.
Genre: Fantasy
Romance
Drama
Produced By: Diane Eskenazi
Written By: Jack Olesker
Based On: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
Starring: Tress MacNeille
Jeff Bennett
Cam Clarke
BJ Ward
Corey Burton
Photography: Color
Distributed By: Trimark
Golden Films
GoodTimes Entertainment
American Film Investment Corporation
Release Date: May 25, 1992
Runtime: 50 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English

The Little Mermaid is a 1992 GoodTimes animated adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen novel of the same name, originally released on May 25, 1992.

Summary

A young mermaid princess makes a deal with the Sea Witch and risks being turned forever into sea-foam in order to fulfill her dreams of marrying her true love.

Why It Sinks to the Bottom of the Ocean

  1. Very poor, choppy, low-key animation, even for 1992’s direct-to-video standards. Even Disney's The Little Mermaid: The Series, which came out the same year as this film, despite it's smaller production budgets for television, has way better animation quality than this.
    • There is a notable lack of water and ripple effects animation used in the underwater scenes, making it seem unconvincing that these scenes in question are set underwater, making all the merfolk and the sea creatures unintentionally look like they're floating mid-air when swimming.
  2. Several moments in the film flat out rips-off Disney’s adaption of the original book.
    • The way Casandra (the sea witch) does her magic, performs her spells and takes Lena’s voice is exactly how Ursula does her magic and takes Ariel’s voice.
    • The scene where Lena sees Prince Stefan and his crew partying on a ship while watching overboard is exactly how Ariel watches Prince Eric and his crew partying on a similar ship, down to the point where they copied the fireworks part.
    • The fact that Lena has sisters with different colored mermaid tails is exactly like Ariel and her sisters.
    • The Sea King in this version is a blatant rip-off of King Triton due to his extremely strict and overprotective persona, including his ban on merfolk going to the surface.
  3. The character designs are bland, unappealing, and look like blatant rip-offs of Disney's 1989 version of the original book (and to some extent, the Toei's 1975 anime film adaptation of the original book):
    • Lena herself is one of the worst offenders, as not only is her design a full-on copy of Ariel’s design, except with blonde hair, blue mermaid tail (the former two physical traits being ripped off from Princess Marina, the mermaid protagonist from the 1975 anime film adaptation), and younger-looking, she ends up looking far younger than Prince Stefan, making their relationship unintentionally creepy.
      • Even in Disney's adaptation of the original book, while Ariel does have a youthful appearance despite being a teenager, her design at least looks convincing as a 16-year-old teenage girl. But here Lena, despite that she is supposedly a teenager in this version, however the way she is drawn with a head drawn more similar to a baby than an adult's in proportion to her body, as well as how her head tends to be oversized in comparison to the rest of her body for the most part, makes her look way too young to be a teenager; she looks more like a third-grader girl than a teenage girl, not helping is her high-pitched babyish voice making her intended teenage girl age seem even more unconvincing.
    • Prince Stefan’s design is a full-on copy of Prince Eric’s design (with a ponytail).
    • Lena's sisters are basically blatant copies of Ariel's sisters' designs.
    • Princess Anna's design is full-on copy of both Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Vanessa (Ursula's human form) from The Little Mermaid.
  4. Mediocre voice acting which ranges from wooden to noisy, and occasionally poorly-done lip syncing.
  5. The characters in general tend to be poorly-written, unlikable, very flat, bland, airheaded, one-dimensional, and overall are blatant knock-offs of the major characters from Disney's The Little Mermaid.
    • Vink (Lena’s dolphin friend) is the ABSOLUTE WORST offender of this, as he is an incredibly whiny, sulky and annoying character who keeps complaining about practically everything to the point that it gets annoying after a while, stealing the "tag-along worry-wart" personality traits from Flounder from Disney's 1989 version of The Little Mermaid and Fritz the Dolphin from Toei's 1975 version of The Little Mermaid (which he is meant to be rip-offs of) except with none of both of Flounder and Fritz's respective likability and charm. Despite that he is supposed to be Lena's friend and Official Royal Pet, he seems to be extremely uncooperative and unsupportive towards Lena, as he always has to whine and complain endlessly of her actions and decisions while still tagging along everywhere she goes, though Lena still isn't any better, as mentioned below.
    • Lena is an extremely unlikable and bland protagonist whom is a whiny, selfish, immature spoiled brat and a brainless "dumb blonde" whose only character trait is being a hopeless romantic who wants to live happily ever after with her love interest Prince Stefan, making her similar to that of Bella Swan from Twilight (even though this film came out 13 years before Bella Swan officially debuted in the Twilight books). Also, her high-pitched babyish voice is incredibly annoying and sounds way too young for her age, as she sounds more like a 6-year-old girl than a teenage girl (see WISTTBOTO #3).
      • Despite being the main protagonist, she does a lot of beyond-detestable actions which would fit right in the antagonistic role, since most of the time she often always causes trouble to her family and friends without any remorse. Such as her wanting to romantically pursue a human prince for no particular reason, continuously stalking Prince Stefan once she falls in love with him, bails out on her friends and family for her selfish desires, continuously insults and verbally-abuses her dolphin friend Vink because the latter refuses to co-operate with her because of her own horrible actions, manipulates her sister Tristen to give in to her desires to be with Prince Stefan under the threat that she'd die of sadness, and continuously fakes-cries just to get herself out of punishments for her actions from her father. Worse, she never receives any repercussions for her horrible actions, and instead, gets everything she ever wanted including finally able to marry her love interest Prince Stefan at the cost of her own voice, hence making her a huge Karma Houdini.
      • The very fact that everyone living under the sea, such as her dolphin friend Vink, as well as her entire family, are completely against her ideas of wanting to marry Prince Stefan for no particular reason (at least without having her to manipulate and/or verbally abuse them) throughout most of the film just shows how unlikable of a protagonist Lena really is.
      • Similar to how Vink is a rip-off of Flounder from Disney's The Little Mermaid, Lena herself is a huge rip-off of Ariel as well as her "charmingly rebellious" personality from the same film, except with none of the likability and charm Ariel had. In fact, if you rip-off Ariel and take away everything likable and redeeming about her, you'll get Lena in a nutshell.
      • To add salt to the wound, in this film Lena is flanderized from her Hans Christian Andersen book counterpart quite badly, so much the point that it makes her seem like a caricature of her original book counterpart (in a BAD way). Instead of being hopeless romantic who pursued a human prince in hopes of getting an eternal soul like in the book, here Lena is instead depicted as a brainless moron and insufferable spoiled brat whom is boy-crazy and has no purpose in life and personality aside from wanting to live happily ever after with her love interest Prince Stefan, and once Lena turns into a human, she ends up becoming an extremely passive and reactive character who barely ever does anything as for the rest of the film things just happen to Lena rather than she herself doing something to drive the plot of the film, hence making her even less of an interesting or compelling character as the film progresses.
    • The Sea King is supposed to be a strict and overprotective father with a bit of a temper similar in vein to King Triton from Disney's The Little Mermaid (which he is meant to be a rip-off of), but he is barely well-intentioned and doesn't really have anything we should like about his angry outbursts much to the point that he usually comes off as more of a grouchy, idiotic jerk with severe anger issues to the point of being unlikable. Near the film's ending, he even threatens Prince Stefan and his kingdom with a sea storm just because the prince decides to marry Princess Anna over Lena which could kill the latter by turning into sea foam, which is what caused Prince Stefan to marry Lena by the film's ending in the first place, meaning that he literally gave Prince Stefan and Lena a shotgun wedding just so the latter could be spared from death via turning into sea foam.
    • Cassandra the Sea Witch is supposed to be the main antagonist, but she instead comes off as a pathetic and lousy villain even worse than Morgana from The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea as she barely ever does anything evil aside from stealing Lena's voice, cackling aimlessly and having anger issues. She is supposed to be a rip-off of Ursula from Disney's The Little Mermaid, but with none of the charm and likability Ursula had. To add salt to the wound, she barely has a major role in the plot, having not seen for the rest of the film after Lena becomes a human, and despite being the film's supposed main antagonist, he never got her comeuppance for her actions and got away scot-free, hence making her a Karma Houdini.
    • Prince Stefan is nothing more than a bland "prince charming" archetype love interest who only exists just to be Lena's love interest, stealing personality traits from Prince Eric (which he is meant to be a rip-off of) except with none of Prince Eric's likability and charm. He is also an irresponsible and selfish rebel as well, as he refuses to marry Princess Anna for political reasons in favor of wanting to marry Lena whom he found on the beach despite that the two barely ever knew each other aside from having just one ballroom dance.
      • Not helping is the fact that Prince Stefan looks way older than Lena, as mentioned before in WISTTBOTO #3, makes his romantic relationship with Lena unintentionally creepy and therefore making him come off as an unintentional pedophile, which is extremely inappropriate for a kids' movie.
    • Lena's sisters, Cecil and Claudia (the two bluebirds that found human Lena on the beach), Cosgrove (Prince Stefan's assistant), Helen and Carolyn (Princess Anna's schoolmates) and Prince Maxwell (Princess Anna's love interest) are all bland and don't do much other than being filler characters.
  6. Very butchered character and story development that feels very rushed.
  7. Poor, idiotic and laughable dialogue, such as when Lena tells her sister Tristen that "If I don't see (Prince Stefan) again, I'll die of sadness", riskfully implicating references to suicide if Lena doesn't get to be with her love interest Prince Stefan.
  8. Forgettable and cringeworthy soundtrack, especially the film's opening theme song.
    • Like GoodTimes' several other animated mockbusters, the film tends to overuse way too much royalty-free classical music as its music scores and even uses them at inappropriate times.
    • The same underwater sound effects are also reused a lot throughout the entire movie.
  9. In one scene when Lena gets "reefed" (grounded) by her father for going to the above world, all her sisters (including Tristen) are seen playing a game of "crabquet" (a variation of croquet using fish as the ball and crab claws as the hoop), which is borderline animal abuse.
    • Not helping is the fact that in this film, it is heavily established that all sea creatures are treated as inferior beings in comparison to the merfolk, especially during scenes where Lena constantly verbally-abuses her "Official Royal Pet" dolphin Vink throughout her life under the sea (see WISTTBOTO #5).
  10. Very poor grasp at the source material and relies more on copying Disney’s own creative adjustments, to the point of becoming a huge rip-off of Disney's version of the original book, right down to the happy ending where Lena marries Prince Stefan at the end. In fact, if you take away everything good and redeeming about Disney's version of The Little Mermaid, you are left with this film in a nutshell.
  11. There are many animation errors, such as one of the human characters appearing to have green skin.
    • Lena's design tends to be inconsistent in certain scenes, like how Lena's head tends to change sizes between shots (such as how her head tends to appear abnormally larger than normal to the point of looking way too super-deformed "chibi" style in certain scenes), and how Lena appears to be a lot thinner than usual to the point of looking like an anorexic in certain shots.
    • Sync/design error: When the two bluebirds Cecil and Claudia first encounter Lena who just stepped out of the ocean as a human, both Cecil and Claudia appear to be their voices erroneously mismatched where Claudia has a male voice and vice-versa with Cecil with a female voice instead of the other way round. WE KID YOU NOT.
  12. The film's logic makes absolute zero sense, even by the lowest of mockbuster standards. Examples:
    • For some strange reason, Lena's pearl necklace able to stay intact in her huge head at all times, especially when she swims underwater.
    • Despite that Cassandra's lair is set underwater, for some reason she is able to cook up a potion with fire in there, despite the obvious fact that fire and water don't mix.
    • When the Sea King threatens Prince Stefan's kingdom with a sea storm, the fire he launches from his magic trident onto the ship is green, even though green fire does not exist in real life.
  13. At all times, the film clearly lacks subtlety as the film has the constant need to rub into the viewer's face every five minutes or so that Vink (Lena's dolphin friend) is Lena's Official Royal Pet throughout nearly three-quarters of the film's plot by having either Lena or Vink explicitly say so, when it was already implied within the film.
  14. Abysmal writing, as the film is filled to the brim with countless plot holes, as some of the plot details were never even explained. There are so many of them that listing it will take forever, so here are just a few examples:
    • BIGGEST PLOT HOLE: For no particular reason whatsoever, Lena wants to romantically pursue a human prince, hence resulting her to endlessly stalk Prince Stefan while in mermaid form until she turns into a human. This is unlike in the original Hans Christian Andersen book and the Disney film where the mermaid protagonist has a valid reason why she wants to romantically pursue a human prince - in the book the Mermaid wanted to gain an eternal soul, while in the Disney film Ariel has a huge interest in humanity and wanted to experience the human world for herself despite her xenophobic father's objections.
    • Vink, despite being a dolphin, for some reason is shown to tire easily from swimming for long periods of time and therefore is unable to swim very well, as Lena pointed out in one scene.
    • The film never even explains on why Cassandra wants to steal Lena's voice in the film. In both the Disney film and the original Hans Christian Andersen book, the mermaid protagonist is said to have a beautiful singing voice, hence why it is precious to her and the sea witch wants it, while here, Lena doesn't even sing at all unlike the Disney film and the original Hans Christian Andersen book, hence making Cassandra's motivations in this film incredibly flimsy.
    • When Lena re-emerges from the ocean as a human, how could the bluebirds Cecil and Claudia able to tell that any human that comes out from the sea naked are obvious signs of merfolk that have turned into humans, as if nobody in the human world ever goes skinny-dipping in the ocean in this film, especially during the time period where this film takes place?
    • How are the bluebirds Cecil and Claudia are able to alert Prince Stefan to take human Lena into his castle?
    • During the film's climax, despite that the Sea King accuses Cassandra for getting Lena to trade her voice for legs in order to experience the human world which risks Lena at turning into sea foam if she doesn’t marry Prince Stefan in time, for some reason he directs his anger and violently attacks Prince Stefan and his kingdom instead of Cassandra, whom by that point is no longer seen for the rest of the film.
  15. There's a lot of filler to pad out the running time; for instance, all the scenes that are set under the sea take up about nearly three-quarters of the film's 50 minute run-time, to the point that the rest of the scenes involving Lena as a human on land by the second half of the film appear to be very rushed.
  16. Lena and Prince Stefan's romantic chemistry is extremely bland, forgettable and quite rushed and cliché because they don't take their time to know each other and get married too soon; in fact, they barely even interacted or spend time with each other aside from just one ballroom dance.
  17. The ending where Lena finally fulfilling her dream of getting married to Prince Stefan is supposed to be a happy and uplifting, but it is actually rather tragic if you think about it because she unfortunately NEVER got her voice back from Cassandra the sea witch by the end of the film.
    • The main reason why Prince Stefan ends up marrying Lena is because her father the Sea King straight-up threatens him and his kingdom by deliberately creating a storm in the sea out of anger and rage because Lena would turn into sea foam if she fails to marry him, which makes the Sea King even more unlikable due to his severe anger issues and therefore resulting this "happy ending" to come off as very forced.
    • Because of the "happy ending" as mentioned above, the film overall straight-up conveys bad messages to girls that "giving up your voice for a man you love is worth it when said man loves you back" and "you only need a man to have happiness", none which are true in the slightest.
  18. As mentioned before in WISTTBOTO #13, Cassandra wanting to steal Lena's voice does not make any sense, as despite Cassandra claiming that Lena's voice is the most precious to Lena herself, Lena doesn't even sing at all, unlike the Disney film and the original Hans Christian Andersen book, when Lena's new pearl necklace she recently received from her sister Tristen for her birthday is actually the most precious thing to Lena rather than her voice. Because of this, having Lena trade her new pearl necklace instead of her voice to Cassandra would have provided a much better happy ending to the film due to introducing a more emotionally compelling moment of allowing Lena to marry her love interest Prince Stefan without even costing her voice since with her voice intact Lena would've been able to tell Prince Stefan that she was the one that did saved him from drowning before he'd mistake Princess Anna as the one who saved him when he meets her later in the film.

The Only Redeeming Quality

  1. The only part of the film’s plot that is loyal to the original novel/source material is if the mermaid doesn’t marry the prince in time, she’ll turn into sea foam.

Voices

  • Corey Burton

Trivia

  • When it was originally released on VHS in 1992, the film was distributed by American Film Investment Corporation. Later re-releases of the film on DVD were instead distributed by both Golden Films and GoodTimes Entertainment.
  • Vink (or a dolphin resembling him) would later make a brief cameo in Golden Films' second Beauty and the Beast mockbuster "Beauty and The Beast" (1999) during the musical number "Beauty's Dream" seven years later.

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