The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning

Movie review by
Erika Milvy, Common Sense Media
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning Movie Poster Image
Before the prince, Ariel discovers music's magic.
  • NR
  • 2008
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Ariel disobeys her father, but she ultimately proves to be wiser than he is -- she doesn't want to erase the memory of her mother or banish happiness from her life. Triton himself comes to see the light after years of mourning, over-protectiveness, and uncompromising sternness. The sisters are typical teens, fighting over hairbrushes, etc., but eventually they all make peace. Even villain Marina Del Ray redeems herself at the last second.

Violence & Scariness

It's not really clear whether Ariel's mother is killed or just captured by pirates. Viewers see only pirates with nets, a descending boat, and crashing waves.

Sexy Stuff

Ariel is a very popular Disney Princess, whose brand reaches far and wide. Expect to see Princess branding on consumer merchandise, food products, etc. as well as in books, websites, and other media.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that younger kids might be distressed by the opening scene of this direct-to-DVD prequel to Disney's The Little Mermaid: A pirate ship is seen descending on a happy mermaid family, and Ariel's mother is captured. The scene is emotional -- King Triton and his daughters are scared, and Triton in particular is anguished -- but the event isn't explicit; only a boat and ocean waves are shown. The rest of the movie is very kid-friendly.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKristen W. April 28, 2019

needs more than a one star on violence and older recommend age

I was very disappointed in the Common Sense Media reviewers take on this film. I feel like the one star violence rating was much too low.

The reviewer state... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 11-year-old Written byWeedPuller September 11, 2014

Only for Ariel fans

The animation and music don't meet the standard of The Little Mermaid, or even of #2, Return to the Sea. The sisters are stereotypical femmes, fighting ove... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 20, 2021

Bad role models

Hello, I am 12 years old. I hate this movie. It is the perfect way to teach a young child that you should literally give up your voice for a random man. Does an... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBugie78 July 30, 2012

First one is better

Ok, I love the first one, second one ok, but this one, makes me cry. I say it is more for little kids then the first one. I love Ariel, and not seeing Prince Er... Continue reading

What's the story?

Ariel's family life was the very model of mermaid domestic bliss. She and her sisters wiggled and giggled as daddy Triton (voiced by Jim Cummings) and mommy Athena (Lorelei Hill Butters) danced and sang in their underwater kingdom -- and then Queen Athena is captured by pirates, and the now-joyless Triton bans music from the kingdom. When Ariel (Jodi Benson) discovers an underground underwater jazz club where the sea nightlife bops, she re-learns the magic of music. But with a furious father, a dastardly nanny, and a flock of bickering teenage sisters to cope with, Ariel is soon in hot water. It's up to her -- and fish friends Flounder (Parker Goris) and Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) -- to bring harmony back to her family.

Is it any good?

For a direct-to-DVD movie seemingly made to capitalize on The Little Mermaid's popularity, ARIEL'S BEGINNING is actually pretty darn good. Romance-happy kids may find the lack of a prince in this tale a weakness, but this story is a nice break from the typical formula. In lieu of amour, music becomes the sought-after but forbidden aspiration, making room for much deep-sea musicality and witty visual humor with sea critters jamming on inventive undersea instruments.

Parents will particularly enjoy Sebastian's rendition of Harry Belafonte's infectious Calypso "Jump in Line" -- a real show-stopper. Kids will also appreciate the amusing sibling rivalries and spats between Ariel's six very different mermaid sisters. As a bonus, Sally Field takes on the role of villainous nanny Marina del Rey with juicy malice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Ariel's disobedience and King Triton's unreasonable rules. Why does he ban music? Was it right for Ariel to disobey him? Families can also discuss how this movie fits in with the original Little Mermaid. Does it change how you see that story at all?

Movie details

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