The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

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The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
The Little Mermaid II Return to the Sea.jpg
You really won't be returning to the sea after this.
Genre: Animated
Fantasy
Musical
Directed By: Jim Kammerud
Produced By: Leslie Hough
David Lovegren
Written By: Elizabeth Anderson
Temple Mathews
Elise D'Haene
Eddie Guzelian
Based On: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
Starring: Jodi Benson
Tara Strong
Samuel E. Wright
Pat Carroll
Rob Paulsen
Kenneth Mars
Cam Clarke
Buddy Hackett
Max Casella
Stephen Furst
Clancy Brown
Distributed By: Walt Disney Home Video
Release Date: September 19, 2000
Runtime: 75 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Franchise: The Little Mermaid
Prequel: The Little Mermaid
Sequel: The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (by release date)


The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is a 2000 animated direct-to-video musical fantasy drama adventure film produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, the first sequel to mh:greatestmovies:The Little Mermaid, and the second installment in The Little Mermaid trilogy. Directed by Jim Kammerud and Brian Smith, the story of the film takes place 12 years after the original, and focuses on Ariel and Eric's daughter Melody, a human princess who longs to swim in the ocean despite her parents' law that the sea is forbidden to her.

Plot

Ariel and Eric are happily married and have been blessed with Melody. The couple are content on land, but Melody is curious about her mermaid heritage and determined to find out what life is like at sea. However, her trip to find her roots unwittingly involves her in an evil plot against Ariel's father, King Triton. So Ariel must also return to the sea to save her family and friends.

Bad Qualities

  1. The main problem with the film is that it barely has any originality, as it is an extremely lazy rehash of the first film, even more so than any other Disney direct-to-video sequel produced during this time (yes, even including The Jungle Book 2 and George of the Jungle 2), where this film's plot is basically a reverse version of the first film with Ariel's daughter Melody dreaming of life under the sea instead of the other way round with barely any major changes to the plot and with none of the charm and cleverness the first film had, hence making the plot very predictable from start to finish.
    • In an effect, because of the sequel's blatant rehashing of the first film's plot, all of the major characters of the sequel are essentially inferior versions of the first film’s major characters: Melody is Ariel, Ariel is King Triton, Morgana is Ursula, Undertow, Cloak and Dagger are basically Flotsam and Jetsam, Tip and Dash are basically Flounder and Scuttle combined, while Sebastian, Chef Louis and Carlotta basically repeat the same roles they had from the first film.
    • The entire scene involving Melody's baby shower is a rip-off of the exact same Aurora baby shower scene from the beginning of Sleeping Beauty. This reaches the point that where during the first nine minutes of the film (from the entire scene involving Melody's baby shower at the very beginning up until the scene where everyone in Prince Eric's castle is preparing for Melody's birthday party) the plot feels like a retread of Sleeping Beauty before switching over to being a reversed retread of The Little Mermaid once the film reaches the nine minute mark, hence highlighting the film's severe lack of originality even further.
  2. It is essentially pointless, as the first film never set up any sequel and ended on a good ending.
  3. The animation, while somewhat passable for Disney direct-to-video sequel standards, is a major downgrade from the first film, with its extensive use of overly bright colors and somewhat off-model character designs, especially for Ariel, Scuttle and adult Flounder.
    • The animation can be off at times, especially in the scenes involving Morgana.
    • Ariel's adult redesign in this film looks rather plain and pudgy, in contrast to her well-known 16 year old teenage self from the first film whom is very attractive.
    • Flounder's older and adult redesign looks really nothing like his original counterpart, with his latter redesign looking very ugly, fat and dumpy.
  4. Many of the characters from the first film have gotten flanderized and are lacking the charm they had from the previous film:
    • Ariel's personality is drastically changed from a carefree, headstrong teenager into a bland-as-wheat clone of her father King Triton from the first film. Not to mention she is a hypocrite as well, since despite having a valid reason to protect her daughter Melody, she tells off Melody for going into the sea because it's dangerous, yet she herself disobeys her father's orders of not going to the surface and meeting humans in the first film.
      • Some examples of such moments of hypocrisy from Ariel that can’t be ignored is a scene where Ariel briefly goes out to the seashore outside the castle and dips her bare feet in the seawater coming through the bottom of the wall she previously built around the castle 12 years prior despite having not allowed her daughter Melody to go swimming in the sea, and she is clearly shown smiling as the seawater that comes in through the bottom of the wall surrounding the castle hits her feet (implying that she misses her old mermaid life as well as her friends and family from under the sea). But when Melody catches Ariel in the act and asks on what is she's doing, she pretends as if nothing happened, obviously keeping secrets from her daughter Melody. Not only that, once Ariel is turned back into a mermaid by her father King Triton so that she could search the entire ocean for her daughter Melody, she is clearly shown to be happily embracing her old mermaid life as evident via the musical number "For a Moment", despite that she herself has told Melody that the ocean is "dangerous" because of the Morgana and is revealed to have only dismissed the ocean to her daughter Melody as nothing more than "an old fish tale" in one scene.
    • Sebastian has gone from a worrisome but cheerful and fun-loving Jamaican crab with humorous qualities into an incredibly whiny, sulky and annoying character who keeps complaining about practically everything because of his old age, hence making him more similar in personality to Flounder from the first film than his own, but with none of the charm and likability his own and Flounder's original film counterparts had. In addition, his entire chase scene with Chef Louis is nowhere near as funny as in the first film (and to some extent, the prequel TV show and Marsupillami).
    • Scuttle has gone from a funny, eccentric comic relief bird sidekick who isn't very bright for the most part into a completely dumb, unfunny, and useless comic relief whose stupidity is more irritating than humorous and comes of as pointless for the most part.
    • Both Prince Eric, King Triton and Flounder are useless characters as they barely contribute anything major to the film until the climax.
  5. Some of the new characters introduced in this film aren't any better either, since they're basically pale knock-offs of the major characters from the first film;
    • Melody, the main protagonist (while not bad, in fact, she's the only two likable new characters), at times feels like a pale knock-off of her mother Ariel from the first film, mainly due to the mechanics of the film's plot.
    • Morgana is a pathetically weak and lousy villain who is more pretentious than menacing and feels like a bland carbon copy of Ursula from the first film, despite being her sister (right down to sharing the same voice actress Pat Carroll). The fact that she frequently botches in her attempts at doing her own magic (so much to the point that she is extremely dependent on King Triton's trident) makes her incredibly hard to be taken seriously or seen as a legitimate threat.
      • Because of how ineffective Morgana comes off as a villain compared to her sister Ursula as evident on how King Triton easily defeated her in the film's ending unlike Ursula, she unintentionally makes the film's protagonists like King Triton and Ariel come off as (figuratively) making a mountain out of a molehill throughout the entire film by making Morgana seem more of a serious threat to Melody that what she really is when Morgana's incompetence and ineptitude as a villain proved otherwise.
    • Cloak and Dagger (Morgana's manta ray minions) are pointless and unnecessary characters which are basically pale rip-offs of Flotsam and Jetsam from the first film.
    • Titanic Tip and Daring Dash are nothing more than unfunny comic relief characters whom are pale rehashes of Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King (right down to the former being voiced by Max Casella, who also played Timon in the first few Broadway musical productions of The Lion King). And despite that they serve a similar role of talking animal sidekicks to Melody as to Flounder and Sebastian as talking animal sidekicks to Ariel in the first film, they barely had any chemistry with the lead character, unlike Flounder, Sebastian and Scuttle who all shared great chemistry together with Ariel in the first film.
  6. On the topic with it's characters, the film feels rather overstuffed with a large amount of characters, and as a result, most of the major characters from the first film such as Ariel, Prince Eric, Flounder, Sebastian, etc. are often demoted to minor or supporting roles in favor of focusing more on Ariel's daughter Melody (almost to the point that some of the major characters from the first film such as Prince Eric, King Triton, Flounder and Scuttle serve no purpose whatsoever to the plot) and the plot constantly has to sidetrack with subplots — it has to shift around from Melody wanting to find herself in the ocean, Ariel looking for Melody under the sea, King Triton and the palace guards looking for Morgana, Tip and Dash wanting to become heroes, and Morgana's conflicting relationship with her late sister Ursula.
    • In fact, half of the subplots of the film barely even have any impact on the film's plot nor are they entertaining in the slightest, such as Tip and Dash wanting to become heroes and Morgana's conflicting relationship with her late sister Ursula, and therefore serve as nothing more than filler in general. You can cut these subplots out and the film wouldn't be any different.
  7. Abysmal writing, as the film is filled to the brim with countless plot holes, mostly involving the ones within the film itself as well as its connections with the first film, where a lot of plot elements from the film are confusing and make no logical sense, even by Disney sequel standards, 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:
    • In both the first film as well as the prequel TV show, Ariel has fearlessly gone on a lot of dangerous adventures under the sea which goes against the rules of Atlantica as established by her father King Triton, including outsmarting Glut the Shark that chased her and Flounder in the first film without even batting an eye, and yet in this film, she considers both Morgana, the "guppy-fied" Undertow and Cloak and Dagger, who are even weaker, less dangerous and more incompetent than Ursula and any other predatory sea creatures she has previously encountered, to be way too dangerous for her and her daughter Melody to handle? Granted that she's now a mother and therefore has to be protective of Melody's safety, but really? Why couldn't Ariel be rest assured that her daughter Melody would be perfectly safe under the sea when left under the care of her father King Triton, especially when he is the powerful king of the sea? Sure, King Triton may be a busy sea king with big responsibilities towards the sea kingdom Atlantica, but he'd love to occasionally take a few days off to spend time with both Ariel and Melody who visit him under the sea.
    • Why would Morgana blame literally everyone on board Prince Eric's ship and in Atlantica for Ursula's death when it was only Prince Eric that skewered Ursula by the ending of the first film?
    • Why would King Triton easily give in to Morgana's first threats of handing her the trident otherwise she'd feed baby Melody to Undertow?
    • If King Triton could easily turn Undertow into a guppy earlier in the film and freeze Morgana with his trident by the end of the film, why couldn't King Triton have frozen Morgana with his trident right from the start of the film?
    • What were King Triton's guards doing the whole time when Morgana gatecrashes into Melody's baby shower?
    • For no explained reason whatsoever, as the film cuts to 12 years since Melody's birth, many of the character seem to be doing the exact same thing as 12 years prior as if the entire events from that time were frozen in time, such as Morgana botching at her attempts at turning Undertow back into a shark with her magic for 12 years straight and Sebastian still staying within Prince Eric's palace walls for 12 years straight.
    • Why does Morgana still want to avenge her late sister Ursula despite having an overwhelming dislike of her because of how Ursula is favored by their mother over her?
      • Speaking of which, the deleted song "Gonna Get My Wish" could've been the possible answer to this plot-hole, which is a shame that it is deleted from the final film.
    • Why would Ariel just keep Melody away from the ocean entirely when all she could've done is to have her and her family members keep a watchful eye on Melody each time she goes swimming in the ocean?
    • Of all the many, competent, palace guards King Triton has, why did he have to choose his advisor Sebastian to watch over Melody despite his obvious old age?
    • For no explained reason whatsoever, Morgana's magic cauldron is somehow able to spy on what has Melody been doing despite that there was no-one actually spying on her, unlike the first film where it is clearly explained that both Flotsam and Jetsam were spying on Ariel the whole time.
    • For some strange reason, everyone in the film, including the kids whom are invited to Melody's 12th birthday party, seem to be completely fine with Melody running around wearing nothing but only her underwear, despite the fact that the film takes place during the 19th century, where girls of the time were often expected by society to be fully covered-up from head-to-toe.
    • How is Melody able to swim so efficiently like a mermaid for 12 years without her mother finding out? To add salt to the wound, it is never explained on how many years Melody has been swimming in the ocean.
    • For no explained reason whatsoever, everyone in Prince Eric's kingdom finds Melody talking to fishfolk as "weird" and "problematic" despite the fact that Ariel was originally a mermaid who grew up living among fishfolk.
    • The movie somehow treats as if that all the disaster that happened during Melody's birthday party is entirely Melody's own fault, even though it's mostly Chef Louis' fault via his fanatical drive to chase Sebastian when he encounters him (which, oddly enough, nobody in Prince Eric's castle except for Carlotta is aware of this).
    • When Melody throws herself on the bed to cry over her disastrous birthday party, for no explained reason whatsoever Melody stripped off her clothes before doing so in her underwear.
    • Where did Morgana get the bread for the "seafood sandwiches" she served with Melody upon her arrival at her lair?
    • How is Melody able to survive the chilly iceberg conditions wearing nothing but only her underwear throughout most of the film?
    • How did Morgana got access to Ursula's magic potion?
    • The entire events of the film could've been completely avoided if Ariel should've explained everything to Melody before or moved somewhere away from the ocean, which she points out a few times.
    • During the musical number "For a Moment", for no explained reason whatsoever, Ariel stops by to visit her grotto of human collection which her father King Triton had destroyed several years prior in the first film, and she seems to be perfectly calm when singing the song when, in context, she's supposed to be downright panicky and worrisome of her daughter Melody.
      • Again in the exact same musical number, in one scene Melody sings My fingers are wrinkly and I really don't care!, which means that she, despite being a mermaid, suffers from wrinkly skin from swimming underwater for way too long when it's a very unlikely case for mermaids, for no explained reason whatsoever.
      • Again in the exact same musical number, all of Ariel's grotto of human collection seem to be intact despite them being destroyed in the first film.
    • Adult Flounder already is a father with kids, but where is Flounder's wife?
    • The film hardly even explains further the connection of how Morgana is related to Ursula as well as what happens between the events of the first film and this film. Even The Lion King II: Simba's Pride at least did bother to explain on how Zira has affiliations with the late Scar and why she wants to seek revenge on the Pridelanders.
    • In the first film, it has been heavily established that both humans and literally every creature on both land and sea are aware of King Triton's existence and know him as the ruler of the merfolk. But how come Tip and Dash are the only creatures in the entire film who have absolutely no idea who King Triton is, let alone completely unaware of his existence?
    • How is King Triton that absent-minded to realize that his granddaughter Melody is hiding in his room (along with Tip and Dash) the whole time during the film's climax when he's desperately looking for her for the entire film?
    • According to Sebastian, no one can remove King Triton's trident from the throne except for King Triton and his descendants. However, this plot point is hardly ever explained or elaborated on in this film, resulting to a massive plot hole in the first film on how Ursula is able to steal the trident from King Triton despite her being non blood-related to King Triton and his family.
    • After getting trapped in an ice cave alongside Flounder by Morgana, Melody for some reason loses her ability to breathe underwater after the effects of her mermaid form wear off, despite that she is clearly shown to be able to breathe underwater flawlessly earlier in the film.
    • How was Scuttle able to alert Prince Eric about Ariel's whereabouts, when earlier on Ariel only told Scuttle to alert King Triton, but didn't even mention anything to Scuttle about alerting Prince Eric?
    • When Morgana uses the trident on all the merfolk and the other sea creatures to bow down to her, despite her claiming that only those with fins will bow down to her, for some strange reason Sebastian is also affected by the trident's powers to bow down to Morgana, despite Sebastian himself is clearly a crustacean and therefore doesn't have fins. The same can be said when Tip (a penguin with flippers) and Dash (a walrus with flippers) are also affected by the trident's powers.
    • By the end of the film, during the musical number "Here on the Land and Sea", for some reason all the humans, including Ariel and her daughter Melody, go swimming in the ocean fully-clothed, despite the fact that swimsuits do exist during the 19th century, the time period which the film takes place.
    • Several times throughout the film, Melody is referred to as a teenager. As Melody just turned 12, she would technically still be in her preteen years.
  8. The only thing that moves the plot along is a series of contrived coincidences.
    • As mentioned before in BQ #7, when Morgana and Undertow bicker non-stop because of the latter blaming the former for his small size, out of nowhere her magic cauldron suddenly reveals to them on what is Melody up to, hence enabling Morgana to continue with her evil plan of exacting revenge on King Triton by luring Melody over to them to answer her questions about her locket.
    • Just as Melody goes out to the sea searching for answers about her locket, by chance she encounters Undertow, and after Melody immediately agrees to Undertow's suggestion both Cloak and Dagger randomly show up to take Melody and her boat over to Morgana's lair.
    • As Morgana searches for the right magic potion to transform Melody into a mermaid, she conveniently finds a bottle of Ursula's magic potion stored in her shelf.
    • As Melody mopes over her predicament over not being able to get to Atlantica when she accidentally breaks the map to Atlantica which Morgana gave her after landing in the Arctic, she meets both Tip and Dash by chance shortly after both the penguin and walrus duo were shamed by the other penguins for their failure at being heroes.
    • The only reason Melody is able to pull King Triton's trident out of the throne so easily was because both Tip and Dash knew that King Triton is coming back very soon and therefore they had to rush with the trident-stealing.
    • As Ariel and Flounder debate over the idea of splitting up to find Melody, Scuttle by chance happens to fly in into the scene, giving Ariel the idea for Scuttle to alert King Triton about Melody's whereabouts.
    • When the effects of Melody's mermaid form wear off and turn back into human legs, Melody's bloomers are conveniently restored onto her lower body half, unlike her mother Ariel who ended up bottomless when Ursula transformed her mermaid tail into human legs in the first film.
    • Right after Morgana claims herself as Queen of the Sea while holding Ariel hostage, Prince Eric and his crew of sailors conveniently show up at Morgana's lair by ship, complete with Scuttle exclaiming to Ariel "Hold on, sweetie! The cavalry is comin'!".
    • When Undertow chases Tip and Dash into Morgana's lair, both Tip and Dash manage to break Melody and Flounder free from the ice cave due to Undertow crashing into it completely by accident when chasing Tip (and nearly eating Tip in the process).
  9. Unfunny and very weak attempts at humor with many mean spirited moments, such as the party guests mocking and laughing at Melody for just talking to Sebastian.
  10. Poor and often laughable dialogue, such as when Sebastian makes a compliment when his "whoppers popped out" during his young years, riskfully implicating the development of women's breasts, as well as Melody's "What's shakin'??" line when she encounters both Scuttle and Sebastian when swimming in the sea.
  11. Forgettable and horrible songs, such as Down To The Sea, Tip and Dash and Here on the Land and Sea.
  12. While the voice acting, for the most part, is decent, Rob Paulsen does a poor job voicing Prince Eric, as he barely sounded like how Christopher Daniel Barnes originally voiced him in the first film.
  13. The film's concept overall is a huge waste of potential. The film could've been about either Ariel and her daughter Melody returning to the sea where the latter could learn and find out about her mother's mermaid heritage from Atlantica as well as Melody finding out on what she really is and which world she better belongs in between land and sea, or Prince Eric joining Ariel whom he recently married at the end of the first film under the sea to learn and find out about Ariel's mermaid heritage from Atlantica and experiencing for himself life under the sea as a merman alongside Ariel and her mermaid family, or both, but what we got for this film instead is a lazy plotline which is basically a reversed rehash plot of the first film, with no effort at all.
  14. The film has logic that make no sense, even for Disney direct-to-video sequel standards. Examples:
    • When Sebastian crash lands into Melody's tall-tier birthday cake, causing the cake to explode and splatter right into Chef Louis' face, despite Sebastian being a lot smaller in size and weight than the cake itself.
    • Both Tip and Dash, despite being a penguin and a walrus, for some reason are able to breathe underwater flawlessly when swimming around Atlantica with Melody despite that both penguins and walruses can only hold their breaths underwater for no more than 30 minutes.
    • At the end of the film, Morgana is trapped in an iceberg that sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
  15. Throughout most of the film until the end, Melody, who is 12 years old, is seen wearing nothing but only her underwear, which is considered child sexualization, which is highly inappropriate for a kids' movie.
    • Not helping is the fact that what she wears throughout the film is basically a chemise and pantaloons, which are basically female undergarments from the 18th century.
    • Speaking of child sexualization, in one scene, Melody emerges out of the water in a provocative fashion the same way a "humanized" Ariel did in the first film. This is supposed to be meant as a more "kid-friendly" homage to the exact same scene from the first film, but ends up being super pedophilic and highly inappropriate, due to the fact that Melody is only 12 years old, while Ariel was a 16 year old teenager when she did that in the first film.
  16. False advertising:
    • On the original 2000 VHS/DVD box art Melody's undergarments are colored yellow, while in the film her undergarments are colored creamy-white (though this problem is fixed on the film's 2008 DVD re-release box art).
    • The film's promotional trailer continuously self-praises the film, such as referring it as "a story unlike any other" and "an adventure you'll never forget", both which are outright lies for these reasons above.
  17. Unlike most Disney direct-to-video sequels, the film overuses cartoon stock sound effects, usually on the scenes involving the comic relief characters like Sebastian or Tip and Dash, which can get annoying after a while.

Good Qualities

  1. For a Moment is the only good song in the film.
  2. Decent voice acting from most of the main cast (except for Rob Paulsen as Prince Eric).
    • Buddy Hackett returns to reprise his role as Scuttle in this film (in his final film role before his death in 2003) after being taken over by Maurice LaMarche in the prequel TV show.
  3. Despite the lower quality animation, at least the animation is decent for Disney direct-to-video standards and is a bit better than some other Disney direct-to-video sequels.
    • In contrast to the rather plain, pudgy, off-model character designs used for most of the characters, Melody's design is cute as she has a great combination of both her parents Ariel and Prince Eric's respective genetics.
  4. Some scenes are actually funny, such as when Carlotta angrily dumps a bucket of water on Chef Louis for the mess the chef has made.
  5. While incompetent and pretentious for the most part, Morgana could be a threatening villain when she wanted to which is evident once she gets her hands on King Triton's trident by the film's climax, though the same can't be said about this other pathetic Disney sequel villain.
  6. There are some tolerable characters:
    • Melody (despite sometimes being a clone of her mother) and Undertow (despite being similar to Glut the Shark) are the only likable new characters in the film.
    • Flounder (despite his bad adult design), Prince Eric (despite his poor voice), and King Triton are still likable characters, despite them being pointless.
    • Chef Louis, Carlotta, Grimsby, and Max are also still likable, despite being minor characters.
  7. Three words: "URSULA'S CRAZY SISTER!"

Reception

As with most Disney "cheapquels", The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea received generally negative reviews from both critics and audiences alike, with criticism being directed at it's lazily-rehashed plotline from the original film, though the animation and voice acting were mixed, and Melody was generally considered a highlight of the film and earned praise for her character growth, design, likability, and Tara Strong's performance.

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 17% of 6 critics gave the film a positive review, and the average rating is 3.8/10. In 2011, Total Film ranked it as 27th among the 50 worst children's films ever made.

The film was the tenth most successful video of 2000 with retail revenues of $121 million.

Trivia

  • Though not the first Disney sequel to give a Disney character offspring of their own (this honor instead belongs to The Lion King direct-to-video sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride ) the film marks the first time a Disney Princess (in this case, Ariel) is given an offspring (in this case, Melody), and the only direct-to-video sequel to give the Disney Princesses children of their own (as well as the only Disney film in general to give the Disney Princesses offspring of their own, at least until the Disney Channel TV movie Descendants came out 15 years later), presumably owing to the negative reception this film had.
  • Voice actress Tara Strong revealed that Melody is one of her favorite characters to voice, as she was a big fan of the original Little Mermaid film growing up.
  • The unpopularity of this sequel, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World and Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, were cited by John Lasseter as examples of why they should discontinue the Disney Sequel brand.
    • Ironically, Return to the Sea had recently been voted the best Disney Sequel in an official poll.
    • Although Return to the Sea is still negatively-received today, Melody became one of the BIGGEST fan-favourite to both Little Mermaid's and Disney's fans and had always been called not only one of the best Little Mermaid character, but also one of the best Disney Princess (Both Official and Unofficial).

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