In 1989, Disney released “The Little Mermaid.” It became a critical and commercial success launching “The Disney Renaissance. Arguably Disney’s best era spanning from 1989-1999. I already wrote an article of the aforementioned movie. No offense, it’s one of the most painfully average Disney animated films. Anyway, a direct-to-video movie titled, “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” focuses on Ariel’s daughter, Melody.
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea was released in 2000. (same year American Psycho came out) Unlike its predecessor, the sequel was critically panned. Regardless of negative reactions, Tara Strong earned praise for her voiceover performance as Melody. The reason why I wanna share my thoughts on the sequel is in fact, a live-action remake of the original 1989 movie will be released on May 26th, 2023. Halle Bailey (Grown-ish) will carry it as Ariel. I’m gonna predict it’ll sink. Has nothing to do with Ariel played by a black actress. I’m open for inclusion. It’ll follow the original’s problematic elements. Check out my review if you wish to see why it has some issues. The only live-action Disney film I’m hyped for is “Disenchanted.” A sequel to one of my favorite Disney films, “Enchanted.”
This review contains no crucial SPOILERS whatsoever. Is the second movie better than the original? Let’s find out shall we?
Float & Sink Qualities
Float: Jodi Benson reprises her role as Ariel. She did a fantastic job for her voiceover performance.
Tara Strong also did a fantastic job for her voiceover performance as Melody.
Animation is surprisingly gorgeous for a direct-to video movie.
The late Pat Carroll (Ursula herself) voices Ursula’s sister Morgana. The latter is not a cheap imitation. Her motivation is to avenge her sister’ death by stealing King Triton’s triton. Excuse the redundancy.
Unlike the first movie, Ariel is much smarter and mature. She’s not an incompetent bimbo who forgets to write on paper to Eric on why she lost her voice in the first place. Ariel is a responsible mother who tries to prevent Melody from finding out she’s part mermaid or else Morgana will do something terrible.
It’s gonna sound controversial. Melody is ten times better than Ariel. She struggles to fit into society, well written Character Development about discovering her heritage and learning the error of her mistake near the end. She’s a super underrated Disney Princess. It’s a darn shame she never appeared in additional movies and shows.
Max Casella (Daxter from the “Jak and Daxter” series) provides the voice of a penguin named, Tip. I would assume Sony watched The Little Mermaid II. So they decided to hire Mr. Casella to voice Daxter.
Speaking of Jak and Daxter, Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob) voices Morgana’s henchman, Undertow. He also voiced Baron Praxis in “Jak II.”
Humor has some good laughs. Particularly from Sebastian, Tip & Undertow.
The Story isn’t a carbon copy of the original. It’s deliberately a breath of fresh air.
Sink: Melody is often referred as a teenager. She’s actually twelve. That’s like Leonardo DiCaprio calling a woman over twenty-five, pretty old.
Thank goodness Melody didn’t have an early romance with a boy like her mother. A major improvement. Disney is notorious for pairing two people way too soon without giving them a week or two to properly get to know one another until a relationship is fully established.
Christopher Daniel Barnes didn’t reprise his role as Prince Eric. Rob Paulsen filled him in. The latter wasn’t that bad. I’ll let this con slide. Give Mr. Paulsen the benefit of the doubt. He’s a talented voice actor. To quote a line from “Fight Club.” “His name is Robert Paulsen!”
There are only four songs. The first one has a grand total of eight.
The Final Verdict: B, FOR BEAUTIFUL DAY!
It’s gonna sound controversial. When I was a kid, I liked The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. As an adult, it still holds up. If you haven’t seen this underrated animated sequel, stream it on Disney Plus. I’d rather another movie with Melody. Too bad a live-action remake is happening. This is why we can’t have nice things.