"Smells a Little Fishy – And Not in a Good Way"
What You Need To Know:
AQUAMARINE is not a great movie. It lacks real originality, direction and a good script. It feels like a teenage re-hashing of the Tom Hanks/Darryl Hannah movie, SPLASH, or a live-action remake of Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. With no sexuality, violence or strong language and with some biblical and moral values of friendship and self-sacrifice, AQUAMARINE is mostly for older children and young teenagers. The movie contains mixed Romantic and pagan elements, however. These elements extol human emotions and promote superstitions about mermaids who can grant wishes.
(Pa, Ro, E, B, C, L, V, N) Mixed light pagan worldview with Romantic elements having teenagers looking for love and extolling emotions as the highest human/mermaid experience and some environmental elements, such as mermaid is thankful that a marine biologist has cleaned up the water because, “it tastes a lot better than it did ten years ago;” plus light biblical, Christian worldview principles such as friendship and self-sacrificing love, and pagan elements wherein mermaids can grant wishes and young girl jokingly prays to the “gods of the hurricanes, ” but this prayer seems to cause a large wave that washes a mermaid ashore; about eight light profanities of “My God” or “Oh, God”; one instance of light violence as an angry girl pushes the mermaid on a dock back into the ocean; no sex but a few references to a teenage girl’s physical development; naturalistic nudity of both male and female teenagers in swimsuits and bikinis; no alcohol; no smoking, in fact two 16-year-olds proudly boast that they don’t smoke; and, nothing else objectionable.
AQUAMARINE follows Hailey (JoJo Levesque) and Claire (Emma Roberts) as two best friends whose lives are forever changed when, after a huge storm, they find a mermaid (Sara Paxton) trapped in their beach club’s pool.
Twelve year-olds Hailey and Claire are best friends forever. They could never imagine their lives without each other. They could never imagine leaving their home in Florida. They could never imagine saying goodbye to the dreamy lifeguard, Raymond, who works at their favorite, summer beach club. But, in a few short days, Hailey and her mother, a marine biologist, are moving to Australia, and the girls will be forced to say goodbye.
As a summer storm rages, Hailey and Claire have one last movie night together. While there, Hailey mockingly prays to the “gods of the hurricanes” that the storm will continue so she won’t have to move away. Well, the gods must be crazy, because in one massive storm surge a wave overtakes the beach club pool. The next day, Hailey and Claire find something unusual in the pool: Aquamarine, a 16-year-old mermaid who had to get away from her father and her arranged marriage.
Aquamarine tells the girls that, in order to get out of her arranged marriage, she must convince her father that true love exists. She has three days to get a guy to tell her that he loves her, and she has just the guy in mind: the dreamy lifeguard, Raymond. As is the mermaid custom of, “anyone who helps a mermaid gets a wish,” if Hailey and Claire help Aquamarine win Raymond’s affection, then they can wish for whatever they want. What do they want? They want Hailey’s mom to decide not to move to Australia.
Can they win Raymond’s affection in time? Can they keep Aquamarine’s mermaid identity a secret? Can they get their wish so Hailey doesn’t have to move away? Armed with plenty of TeenCosmos and other teen love magazines, the girls struggle to find the meaning of true love.
AQUAMARINE is not a great movie. It lacks real originality, direction and a good script. With stilted dialogue that doesn’t sit comfortably in the performers’ mouths, it feels like a teenage re-hashing of the Tom Hanks/Darryl Hannah fare, SPLASH. The movie also seems as though a producer somewhere gave a project green light to a live-action remake of Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID.
Viewers are forced to tolerate the same (pardon the pun) fish-out-of-water story devices that they’ve seen many times. They must endure while Aquamarine struggles with her new land-legs. They are punished with cheap visual schtick such as her eating Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream. They will also have to labor through jokes such as calling her sea-king father on her Shell Phone. At any moment in the movie, we half-expected Aquamarine to break out into Ariel’s famous “Part of Your World” ballad.
Despite these corny moments, the movie contains some moral and redemptive elements. For example, there are some genuine heartfelt moments as the young women discover friendship and the real, non-magazine meaning of self-sacrificial, true love. These moments are few and far between, however. In fact, the movie seems to have a mixed pagan worldview with some light environmentalism and Romanticism thrown into the stew with the positive content. There is also the joke about praying to “the gods of the hurricanes” that seems to wash the mermaid ashore.
Between these moments, viewers are forced to listen to some silly things, like small starfish giving suck-up compliments to Aquamarine as she wears them for earrings. If only I had a snarf-blat or a dingle-hopper, I could occupy my time a little more usefully.
With no sexuality, violence or strong language and with some biblical and moral values of friendship and self-sacrifice, AQUAMARINE has a wholesome feel, and older children and young teenagers may enjoy this movie, but, for my money, I would rather be “up where they walk, up where they run, up where they play all day in the sun. Wandering free, wish I could be, part of that world.”