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LITTLE MERMAID, THE: ARIEL'S BEGINNING: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
King Triton (voice of Jim Cummings) bans music in the kingdom of Atlantica when his beautiful wife dies. Ariel (voice of Jodi Benson) grows up with her six mermaid sisters under the care of their ambitious nanny Marina Del Ray (voice of Sally Field), who is eager to take over from Sebastian (voice of Samuel E. Wright) as the King's Chief of Staff. One day, Ariel discovers a secret underwater club where music is played and Maria thinks this is her chance for promotion.

Review by Louise Keller:
Without music this place just isn't home, says Ariel (voice of Jodi Benson), whose father King Triton (voice of Jim Cummings) has banned music following the death of her mother. Life seems to be so much fun at the bottom of the ocean, where mermaids swish their colourful tails surrounded by exotic sea creatures. This prequel to The Little Mermaid introduces us to Ariel and tells the story of how the music-loving crustacean Sebastian (voice of Samuel E. Wright) becomes court composer.

It's a beautifully told, charming story with lyrical songs and fabulous dance routines. And stealing all her scenes is the tale's villain, the outrageous Marina Del Ray (voiced by Sally Field), a hideous vision in purple, from her hair, outfit, nails to eyeshadow, who makes no attempt to hide her ambitions. Children of any age will adore this bright, funny and happy story that reinforces the joy of laughter and music.

When the story begins we are introduced to an idyllic Atlantica in which the King, Queen and their mermaid daughters live. The advent of a pirate ship changes the future of the King and Queen's happiness, and as the years roll by, the seven mermaid princesses become accustomed to a life without music. When Areal follows the yellow and blue Flounder (voice of Parker Goris) to The Catfish Club, a secret underwater cave where the octopus tickles the ivories with its tentacles, turtles play the bongos, fish clang the castanets and wear Carmen Miranda headdresses, she is compelled to stay and join in the dancing and laughter. Her song 'I remember music and I'm never going back' is a heartfelt moment, contrasting the outrageous routine from Marina Del Ray as she declares 'Hello World, I'm the belle of the ball - I'm the new attaché.'

We are happy in the company of these delightful characters that live in a tranquil underworld haven. Filled with music and dancing, the film's storylines encompass themes of family, loyalty and love and is recommended to one and all.

DVD special features include deleted scenes, behind the scenes at the Broadway musical The Little Mermaid as well as a look behind the scenes with director Peggy Holmes who uses her background in dance as choreographer to create a unique animation experience.

Published December 26, 2008

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CRITICAL COUNT
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Mixed: 0

LITTLE MERMAID, THE: ARIEL'S BEGINNING: DVD (G)
(US, 2008)

VOICES: Jodi Benson, Samuel E. Wright, Jim Cummings, Sally Field, Parker Goris, Tara Strong, Jennifer Hale, Grey DeLisle, Jeff Bennett

PRODUCER: Kendra Halland

DIRECTOR: Peggy Holmes

SCRIPT: Robert Reece, Evan Spiliotopoulos

EDITOR: John Royer

MUSIC: James Dooley

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tony Pulham (Art direction)

RUNNING TIME: 70 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9

SPECIAL FEATURES: Teaching Mermaids to dance; The Little Mermaid - a look behind the scenes; deleted scenes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: WDS

DVD RELEASE: April 2, 2009







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