Fishy fairy tale is fun, but talk about relationship issues.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: November 6, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Aside from the fact that Allen falls in love with a woman who 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.


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. Walter is constantly beaten up for throwing water on the wrong woman. Most of the violence is offscreen.


Madison is often shown naked from the back, with only her hair covering her private parts. Freddy is a lech, bringing porn magazines into work, dropping coins to look up girls' skirts, etc. Allen is naked in a tub of water, 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.


Not much, but there are a couple of uses of "s--t." Also "goddamn."


Bloomingdale's plays a large part in this film.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Freddy drinks constantly and gets Allen drunk after a wedding. Freddy smokes cigarettes while playing racquetball and smokes cigars in other scenes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 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 (see the warnings) and comic violence, and the main characters are quite sex-crazed, though not much more than elevator make-out sessions are shown.

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 more than 20 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.

Families can talk 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.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 6, 1984
DVD release date:March 23, 2004
Cast:Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Tom Hanks
Director:Ron Howard
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Ocean creatures
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:brief nudity, comic violence.

This review of Splash was written by

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Learning ratings

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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 "very little" in the way of language concerns. However, if you read below in the comments section, you will see that "britton26" correctly states that they say "g d and s o b and 1 use of the s word". If your kids are parrots, you might be concerned about that. Heather Boerner then accurately describes John Candy's character thusly: "Freddy drinks constantly and gets Allen drunk after a wedding. Freddy smokes cigarettes while playing racquetball and smokes cigars in other scenes." I was able to explain to my children that the comedy of John Candy smoking and drinking while playing racquetball was because it was SOOOO unhealthy. It makes this point rather well, actually, as he is obviously overweight and not able to play racquetball as a result. If you want, you could even mention that this actor died as a result of being overweight (I chose to not go that far…). What I was not able to explain was why John Candy drops coins to look up women's skirts...I just said, "He's silly..." As far as the message goes, I do take issue with Heather Boerner. She claims that Tom Hanks likes Daryl Hannah’s mermaid because "she's pretty and she's hot for him". Of course, it’s true that Tom Hanks does like her because she's beautiful, but is also clear that he has a vague memory of meeting her when he was a little boy, which is a sort of basic fairy tale device ("Sleeping Beauty") but also another way of describing what we would now call "soul-mates". The message that is most useful for younger viewers, I think, is that Darryl Hannah's mermaid spends most of the movie afraid to tell Tom Hanks the truth about herself. This is often a problem in relationships: one person feels that the other won't accept him/her, so they cover something up (“I’m really a mermaid/cheerleader/jew/nerd/virgin/whatever!!!). If teens can learn to be honest with each other early in a relationship, so much the better. Given that it is a fairy tale, of course, once Hanks learns the truth they go off to live happily ever after, which might or might not happen in real life, but at least the parties concerned would be living their own truth. As far as the “nudity” is concerned, I thought it was wonderfully appropriate. NONE of the “nudity” is sexual. It is all because, hey, she’s a mermaid and she doesn’t have clothes. The one shot of Tom Hanks covering his wee-wee is purely comic.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bycopperzinc April 6, 2009
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 16 years old Written bybritton27 January 23, 2009

a sea of romance

i think splash is a cute movie and tom hanks did a good job on this and it may hav nudity but it's just a little bit and the language is mild they only say a few words like g d and s o b and 1 use of the s word but ther is a good ending in this film and i think it's worth seeing


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