Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Splash Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
'80s fishy fairy tale has sex, some cursing.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 19 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Aside from the fact that Allen falls in love with a woman who at first seems dumb and mute, he seems to be confusing sex for love. Madison lies about who she is. Allen lies in order to save her. Overall, a love story with a "love conquers all" message expanded to include the true love between a man and mermaid. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real positive role models in the movie. 


Allen jumps overboard as a child and later almost drowns when he falls in the water and is hit on the head by a boat. In a series of comic pratfalls, Walter is constantly beaten up for throwing water on the wrong woman, and nearly run over by an Army jeep. Most of the violence is offscreen. Lead character smacked in the crotch by a mermaid fin.


Madison is often shown naked from the back, with only her hair covering her private parts. Freddy is lecherous, bringing porn magazines into work, bragging of getting an erotic letter published in Penthouse, dropping coins to look up girls' skirts, etc. Allen is naked in a tub of water in a research lab, covering his private parts with his hands. Allen and Madison are shown in bed together and making out in the elevator. They talk about having sex in every room in his apartment. Freddy convinces a skeptical security guard that he is a Swedish marine biologist by telling the guard in Swedish, "I have a 12-inch penis." When asked how he learned Swedish, Allen says he learned from watching Swedish pornographic films. An elderly secretary who seems to be senile is shown wearing her bra on the outside. 


Occasional profanity: "bitch," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "hell." In Swedish, one of the characters tells a military guard, "I have a 12-inch penis." When asked how he learned Swedish, he says he picked it up watching Swedish pornographic movies. Talk of sex, talk of sex with a mermaid. 


Bloomingdale's department store is a catalyst for action in the movie, and is the setting for one of the scenes. One the characters talks of getting one of his letters published in Penthouse Magazine; he later tells a crowd of reporters that unless they are with Penthouse, he and his brother will not talk to them. Ad for Carlton cigarettes clearly shown on the roof of a cab. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

After a wedding, lead character gets extremely drunk at a bar, slurring his speech while trying to lament his lack of a love life to bar patrons and the bartender. Cigarette smoking. Beer drinking. Wine drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Splash is a 1984 comedy in which Tom Hanks falls in love with a mermaid. Literal-minded teens may take this fantasy for an idealized version of what relationships are like. Especially for young girls, this film may encourage them to think that what they look like is more important than what they think. There's some brief nudity (Madison is often shown naked from the back, with only her hair covering her private parts, Allen is naked in a tub of water in a research lab, covering his private parts with his hands) and comic violence, and the main characters are quite sex-crazed, though not much more than elevator make-out sessions are shown. Hanks' character is extremely drunk at a bar after a wedding, slurring his speech. Cigarette smoking. A character says in Swedish (with subtitles) "I have a 12-inch penis." Occasional profanity: "bitch," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "hell." Freddy is lecherous, bringing porn magazines into work, bragging of getting an erotic letter published in Penthouse, dropping coins to look up girls' skirts, etc.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygernacular January 8, 2010

Sweet funny movie for boys and girls...

My two biggest concerns were the language and the behavior of John Candy's character. The Common Sense review by Heather Boerner says that there is "... Continue reading
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byQueenbee27 April 24, 2021

Great Story!

It is hard to find a good mermaid movie these days and when I found this movie I was so happy. It is a wonderful story with good character development and actin... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCamila Cabello May 18, 2021
Kid, 10 years old April 12, 2021

Very Romantic

It is a nice movie but a LOT of kissing, I am fine with this movie but for families who don't like romance, I will not recommend it for it might gross you... Continue reading

What's the story?

Like all good romantic comedies, SPLASH is based on a preposterous premise: A modernized retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Madison (the mute but lovely Daryl Hannah) is a mermaid trying to reclaim the boy she fell in love with when he jumped off a boat near Cape Cod when he was 8. That boy is now a man in a funk -- Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks), who can't commit to his girlfriend, does the brunt of the work for his playboy brother, Freddy (John Candy), and fears he'll be alone for the rest of his life. After a swift and painful breakup, Madison emerges from the sea and falls in love with him. Allen must decide whether he's in love with her, whether he can decode her secret past, and whether he trusts her. But can Madison get him to tell her that he loves her?

Is it any good?

Still full of soggy logic and romance many years after its initial theatrical release, Splash works well enough for a fantasy. But as a modern parable about relationships, it sets a bad example for young girls -- undoubtedly a key demographic for the film, rated PG. Splash is proof that guys will date anyone if she's hot enough. Allen and Madison fall into bed together without Madison saying a word. She's prone to exposing herself in public, stealing his wallet for a shopping spree, and talking like a 10-year-old, which makes her seem, frankly, a little developmentally delayed. But she's pretty and she's hot for him. And that's all that matters.

What we have here is an image of lust based on appearance, with some hints toward love at first sight. But for young girls already preoccupied about their weight and appearance, this film has the potential to further confuse sexual attention for true affection.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether they believe that Allen is really in love with Madison. Why does he love her? Is it just because of what she looks like or because of who she is? For families with kids just starting to navigate relationships, they'll probably want to discuss the way Allen and Madison fall into bed together without speaking a single word first.

  • Early in his career, Tom Hanks was known for starring in slapstick and somewhat ribald '80s comedies. How has his career evolved since then? Think of other actors who have had long careers in Hollywood. Who are some actors who have gotten to play a vast array of character types, and who are some actors who almost always play the same kind of character? 

  • Would this movie be different if the gender roles were reversed, if the lead character was a lonely woman who finds love out of nowhere when an attractive man somehow shows up in her town naked and with nothing but his ID? Would the premise (he doesn't have to be a mermaid) still work? Why or why not? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

Themes & Topics

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