Parents' Guide to

The Little Mermaid

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Superb, entertaining animated musical has some scary stuff.

Movie G 1989 83 minutes
The Little Mermaid Movie Poster Image: Ariel sits on a rock, looking up, Flounder beside her

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 59 parent reviews

age 3+

A classic that is being belittled by nonsensical complaints.

Ok, really? I can understand parents possibly worrying about the ending when Ursula becomes a giant and then how she dies, but ARIEL'S OUTFIT?! GET OVER IT!! Obviously cotton doesn't grow under the sea, and obviously the mermaid culture is different than the human culture in the movie. There are REAL cultures on Earth today that don't wear ANYTHING. Did anyone even notice that when Ariel became human she started wearing human clothes and they were pretty conservative? I was 3 when I first saw this movie, and I just thought Ariel was wearing a swimsuit. It's no worse than what children see other people wearing at the pool or beach. This is an AMAZING CLASSIC that Disney created. Every child should get to see it. Let them be kids!! I honestly think it's over-protective parents with complaints as frivolous as what Ariel is wearing are the cause of children being so out of control these days. Don't make a big deal over trivial things, and your children won't either. All in all, The Little Mermaid is a TERRIFIC movie that should not be missed!
age 13+

Not the movie I thought it was

Like many millennial parents, this was one of my favourites as a kid. So once my oldest got old enough to watch Disney movies I was excited to share this with her. I think I let her watch it when she was 4-5, but it is not the movie I remember. I really did not like the way that Ariel only saw Eric from a distance and was already willing to defy her father and go to a witch and give up her voice in an extremely sketchy exchange. I know a lot of older Disney movies have this problem, but I didn't remember all of Ariel's irrational behaviour. And the way that Ursula told Ariel to use her body language. She was basically telling a 16-year old girl to go out and seduce someone. It all felt very inappropriate to me. Its still a great movie, just not a good message for little ones. I won't be showing this one to my daughter again until she is much much older.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (59 ):
Kids say (96 ):

After some lackluster years, Disney came back into the top rank of animated features with this superbly entertaining musical. Based loosely on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen (but with a much happier ending), The Little Mermaid's princess was refreshingly plucky when the movie came out in 1989. Though Ariel still must wait for a prince's kiss for her dreams to come true, she shows spirit and curiosity, taking action in order to meet him.

The wonderful voice cast includes Buddy Hackett (The Music Man) as Scuttle the scavenging seagull and Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, the calypso-singing crab. The first-class musical score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (who also worked together on the off-Broadway hit Little Shop of Horrors) ranks with the best of Broadway and won Oscars for Best Score and Best Song ("Under the Sea"). While The Little Mermaid does provide yet another wasp-waisted Disney princess whose whole world revolves around a man, Ariel is adventuresome, rebellious, and brave. And the fact that she makes the mistake of giving up her voice to the sea witch (a very strong female character, to say the least), provides a good opportunity for family discussion.

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