A Mermaid's Tale

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
A Mermaid's Tale Movie Poster Image
Predictable adventure has some mild peril.
  • G
  • 2017
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

All types of creatures can get along harmoniously if they try.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ryan is an outgoing and well-adjusted girl who gets along with everyone.


Violence & Scariness

A mermaid gets caught in a net but is saved. A man seems to suffer from a heart condition but is saved. A girl loses a locket that means a lot to her. References are made to parents who died.

Sexy Stuff

Adults kiss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Mermaid's Tale is a G-rated movie probably best suited to the tastes of grade-school girls and those who fancy fantasies about mythical creatures who roam the deep. There's talk of lost parents and yearning for those we love, emphasizing the importance of family and loyalty. Mild peril occasionally surfaces but resolves itself quickly.


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What's the story?

Ryan (Caitlin Carmichael) lost her mom when she was four. Eight years later, she and her dad Matt (Jerry O'Connell) are moving back to the beach town where he grew up to help his ailing fisherman dad Art (Barry Bostwick). In A MERMAID'S TALE, Ryan learns much about Art's obsession with mermaids, mythical creatures he deeply believes in. He blames them for the disappearance of fish from the local waters he's been working for decades and seems to hold a grudge for other reasons. The independent Ryan seems strangely unfazed by her uprooting to a new town, smiling warmly at her grumpy and unwelcoming grandfather. She isn't the least bit leery about wandering around alone in a new place when her father rushes off for the day to help Grandpa in his fishing boat. On her first outing, Ryan encounters a young mermaid named Coral (Sydney Scotia). The two become eerily-fast friends, which leads to unraveling the story of why Art is so grumpy and why Matt never knew his own mother. Ryan is taken by Coral to the mermaid's secret lair, where she learns the merfolk don't trust her to keep their location secret. For this reason, they refuse to allow her to return to her family. The youngest viewers may be upset by this plot twist, but the decision is quickly reversed for a far happier ending.

Is it any good?

Clearly targeted at young girls yearning for mild adventure, the film anticipates just how much peril (not much) that audience will bear. Oversimplification of sticky emotions and difficult situations is the hallmark of a successful Disney Channel or Nickelodeon made-for-TV type of movie and A Mermaid's Tale checks off all requirements to fit in the category. All questions are answered and all problems solved, neatly tied up in bows by the movie's end. Though thoroughly formulaic, it isn't objectionable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether or not mermaids are real. Would you like to meet one?

  • Why do you think people are fascinated with mermaids and stories about them?

  • How do you think myths about mermaids began? Does A Mermaid's Tale do a good job of explaining why people believe in them?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mermaids

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