Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I always get a little nervous around Chick Flicks, and even more so when aimed at a young audience. This one looked somewhat harmless. I was pleasantly surprized that it was not only harmless but non-offensive! The trick to movies like this one is to always go in with low expectations. Maybe that's not the best way to approach a movie but it works for me.
Hailey is about to be parted from her best friend Claire when her mother takes a Marine Biology job in Australia, which is, like, on the other side of the world! Claire's parents drowned a few years back, leaving her in the care of her grandparents, who run a Florida beach resort. Claire never goes in the water.
There's a little hocus-pocus stuff where the girls goofily make a prayer to some kind of ocean gods which of course leads up to a big storm and the next day, they spot a mermaid, yes, a mermaid, in the pool! They don't tell anybody of course. She explains to the girls that she got herself washed up into the pool in order to escape her mean old dad, who wants her to marry some slimy crustacean. If she can prove that love exists, she doesn't have to marry him.
This plot totally follows the rules of a fantasy story: She has three days to accomplish her task. She has legs during daylight. If you help a mermaid, you get a wish.
Hailey and Claire wish to stay together. They are thirteen and if there's one thing I'm learning about girls this age, it's that they really want to be together. A fantasy has to be grounded with some reality to make the magic work.
Aquamarine has no clue about life on land. Apparently underwater, marriages are arranged because merpeople are totally out of it when it comes to flirting. The girls deluge the mermaid with teen magazines, and give her very bad advice on handling boys, which has never actually worked for them either. The end result is that the three girls really like each other.
Eventually Raymond the hot lifeguard does take a liking to the beautiful and strange girl...but it doesn't work out according to plan. And that's okay.
It's a sweet movie that does manage to gently add a few good lessons about friendship, love, loyalty, mothers and daughters, and the unrealistic demands of romance.
I liked the performances by the two leads, Emma Roberts and Jojo Levesque.
They seemed natural! The script allowed them to be awkward and charming thirteen year olds. They dress like real girls do; for example, Hailey wears big baggy cargo shorts instead of something from a magazine spread. That they were not sexualized was a real relief to me as a mother of a pre-teen.
Although they do get to dress up for the Big Party Scene, and what good is a fairy tale without a Big Party Scene?
Sara Paxton, who plays Aquamarine, is a real prize. She's beautiful yet played the endearingly awkward young woman perfectly. She looked like it was her first day on the new legs. She was goofy, confident, and exuberant. Me being a landlubber I had to notice how easy she made the mermaid scenes look. She was glued into a tail, kids, with fins. And there she was swimming around like it was the most natural thing in the world. This was a detail that the entire movie hinged on. She pulled it off.
Plus I really liked the blue streaks in her hair. Fun!
It's not an excellent movie. The effects appear to be very low budget. Overall it has a digital look, but not in a good, sharp, clear way. The story is simplistic, but at least it doesn't treat its audience like morons.
The girls didn't get the ending the wished for. But they all got what they could live with.
This movie contains no violence, no swearing, and only two very well behaved kissing parts. My 12 year old daughter and I really enjoyed this movie. My 10 year old son liked the mermaid swearwords ( Bullshark! ) and aquatic puns such as "Call me on my shell phone." It's nice that this flick knows its audience.
Big Daddy wasn't crazy about the scene where the teenage bully girl shows off her new big boobies. He was afraid to look. And I covered my boy's eyes for the kissy parts.
Don't expect too much from it, but do watch it with your daughters. It's cute and you'll feel all warm and happy and bubbly.