A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids will see some potentially scary scenes with mild peril, including a pair of sharks who attempt to eat people and animal characters. Ursula's sister, Morgana, looks very like the menacing sea witch from the original movie and is likely to frighten kids who found Ursula scary. Morgana threatens baby Melody by holding her over a gaping shark's mouth, and Melody also nearly meets her end by drowning. Melody later runs away from home after a disagreement with her mother.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This direct-to-video sequel to Disney's animated hit The Little Mermaid reverses the first movie's plot when, against her parents' wishes, Ariel's daughter Melody tries to become part of the world under the sea. The festivities celebrating the birth of Melody, Ariel and Eric's daughter, are interrupted by the arrival of the sea witch Morgana ("Ursula's crazy sister!"), who attempts to kidnap the child. The attempt fails, but Ariel decides that, until the threat of Morgana is eliminated, Melody is forbidden from going near the ocean and kept in the dark about her mermaid heritage. Twelve years later, Melody ignores these rules and swims in the ocean regularly. When Ariel discovers what she's been up to, harsh words are exchanged, and Melody runs away, escaping in a boat out to sea. Morgana finds Melody and fulfills her wish to become a mermaid, but dupes the girl into stealing King Triton's magical trident. A guilt-ridden Ariel must now return to the ocean to make peace with Melody and prevent Morgana from gaining absolute power over the merdom.
Is it any good?
Apart from some minor variations, the story of LITTLE MERMAID II is a shameless retread of the plot of its Academy Award-winning predecessor. This sequel doesn't come close to matching the original movie's tuneful charm. Kids may be disappointed to discover that Ariel has little more than a supporting role here. Ariel's new authoritarian role is a bit off-putting, as is her decision to lie to Melody about her family's history. Although she lies to protect her daughter, the filmmakers seem to have forgotten that the Ariel of the first movie was playful and imaginative. When the evil Morgana makes a sarcastic comment about Ariel being "cruel and deceitful," some kids just might agree with her!
Two new characters, Tip the Penguin and Dash the Walrus, will amuse younger viewers with their slapstick aquatic antics. Sadly, Sebastian the crab, one the best characters in the first movie, is reduced to complaining endlessly about having to look after yet another headstrong teenager. All of the voice actors who helped give the first movie so much charm have returned, and their skill somewhat compensates for the clumsy script. Many kids will be able to relate to Melody's sense of insecurity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea has as many scary parts as the original movie. Which parts did you find alarming? What made them upsetting? Does it matter if you know that everything will turn out OK when you're watching something scary?
Why is a sequel rarely as good as the original? Did you think this movie was as good and The Little Mermaid? Where you disappointed to see so little of Ariel? Why do you think this sequel wasn't released in theaters when the first movie, which won a lot of awards, was?
- In theaters: September 19, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: December 15, 2008
- Cast: Jodi Benson, Samuel Wright, Tara Strong
- Director: Jim Kammerud
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Music and Sing-Along, Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 75 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.