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Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, The (DVD Review)

24 Aug, 2008 By: Anne Sherber

Little Mermaid Ariel's Beginning

Street 8/26/08
$29.99 DVD
Not rated.
Voices of Jodi Benson, Samuel Wright, Sally Field, Parker Goris.

This peek at the little mermaid's earliest life is a Freudian analyst's dream. The seeds of all of Ariel's later passions, obsessions and even her little neuroses can be traced to the events dramatized in this direct-to-video prequel.

Once they were one big happy amphibious family. King Triton, Queen Athena and their seven daughters were the underwater equivalent of the Kennedys, ruling over a soggy version of Camelot. But when evil pirates murder Athena, Triton gives in to his grief and anger. He decrees that there will be no more music in his kingdom.

One day Ariel secretly follows Flounder to a club where music is celebrated and all manner of fish and crustaceans boogie down. Unfortunately, Ariel is not the only secret visitor. The scheming nanny Marina, who seems to be Ursula's evil grandmother, also follows the singing scofflaws to their secret after-hours club.

Disc extras include deleted scenes, which are distinguished by director Peggy Holmes, who explains why the three clips did not make the film's final cut. Four of the film's songs are given the music video treatment and can be played with lyrics, subtitled along the bottom of the screen.

The "Mermaid Discovery Vanity Game" is an interactive feature that allows users to look at items on each of the princess' vanities.

"Splashdance" is a making-of documentary in which the director talks about the challenges and rewards of directing an animated feature. Also included is a backstage look at Disney's Broadway production of The Little Mermaid.

The original animated film set a pretty high bar for animated musicals, and this film does not rise to that lofty level. Still, it is appealing and will certainly please its target audience.

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