This week, we watched the sequel to the animated movie that launched a rebirth for Disney animation and began the Disney Renaissance: The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. Released more than 10 years after the original, this direct-to-video sequel follows Ariel’s daughter who loves the sea as much as her mother but, because she is in danger due to Ursula’s sister Morgana, is forbidden from entering the water at all. However, possessing her mother’s rebellious spirit, she goes into the water anyway and meets Morgana herself.
The voice cast all return for this film including the always wonderful Jodi Benson as Ariel, Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, and Kenneth Mars as King Triton. New characters include Ariel’s daughter Melody, voiced by Tara Strong and, in an interesting piece of casting, Pat Carroll who returns to the franchise, this time playing Morgana (Carroll was the original voice of Ursula).
Technically, there is nothing really wrong with this film. In fact, as a stand-alone story, it might hold up. However, everything here we have seen before and better. Most of it is borrowed directly from the original Mermaid, with almost nothing new added. We have a protagonist that longs to go into the sea. This is merely the reverse of the original film. She makes a pact with an evil sea witch, another element we have obviously seen before. The parallels between the opening of this film featuring Morgana and Melody and the opening of Sleeping Beauty are painfully obvious. The new music is boring and the lyrics are so poor that they become laughable. It makes me yearn for the days when Howard Ashman was here writing wonderful, creative lyrics and the difference in quality between the songs in this compared to the original is extremely apparent.
As a huge fan of The Little Mermaid, it’s disappointing, yet not surprising to see such a decline in quality. However, the character of Ariel is such a beloved one to people everywhere, so it is nice to see this character continue in whatever form that may be. 8 years after the release of this film, Ariel came to the screen again in a prequel titled The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning which I will be covering in Week 25 of this series.
Next week, we will be watching the 2001 sequel Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure.
As always, happy watching!