JACKIE WAS RIGHT!
Quality of Character
Ariel is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to displaying admirable qualities. Let’s examine the charges against her:
She’s unreliable (fails to show up for music rehearsals with family).
She endangers her friends (taking Flounder to the shipwreck and getting them both chased by sharks).
She is a compulsive hoarder (ahem, remember her stash?).
She’s an idiot (who sells her soul for a chance to walk around voiceless with a guy she doesn’t even know? We won’t talk about brushing her hair with a fork at the table, either).
She’s totally selfish/self-involved (runs away from home rather than have a thoughtful conversation with her father that doesn’t involve pouting, skips out on family responsibilities so she can hang out with idiot seagulls and look for rusty forks).
She’s utterly incapable of accomplishing anything on her own (when she doesn’t fulfill her side of the contract and Ursula comes to collect on said LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT WHICH URSULA CAREFULLY EXPLAINED ALL THE TERMS TO, she has to have Prince Eric kill Ursula to get out of it. Then her dad has to turn her human so she can be with Eric Since her Dad always had this ability, imagine if she’d bothered to build a relationship with her Dad based on mutual trust and respect, she could have skipped ALL THE DAMN DRAMA).
I could continue to indict Ariel’s character, but I think you get the point, and this is just making me want to continue to lower the QC score she has that’s already 15 points lower than her nearest QC competitor. It was a battle to figure out anything to award her positively for here… I guess she’s adventurous and strong-willed?
Overall Film Quality
Ariel makes up some ground here (not enough, obviously, she’s still at the bottom). Despite the rampant awful parenting messages, it’s still a mostly enjoyable movie, but that’s almost entirely due to Ursula, Sebastian, and some seriously jamming tunes.
Eric isn’t at the bottom of the list, but he’s close. He’s really good-looking, but that’s about all he has going for him. He’s utterly incapable of having an interesting conversation (ahem, the boat ride). He falls in love with a girl he doesn’t know, because she sings a song. He’s barely interested in Ariel until she gets her voice back. Shallow, shallow, shallow.
One of the high scores, mostly because Sebastian is a source of great wit and reason in a sea of idiocy (SEA what I did there?) and because Ursula is a world class villain. Speaking of Ursula, she got a really bum deal. She gave Ariel everything she promised her, she explained all the stipulations of the contract, and then when she came to collect on it? BAM, ship’s mast through the chest. Did she try to sabotage Ariel a little? Sure, but she IS a villain, and nothing in the contract said she couldn’t. Ursula also has great minions and great villain lines (BODY LANGUAAAAAGE HAH!). Most other characters are pretty forgettable, but Sebastian and Ursula more than pick up the slack. Let’s also not forget the glorious sadistic chef. King Triton does not get off scott free though: rather than deal with his brat daughter, he just pawns her off on Sebastian. No wonder she's turned into such a terror.
Far and away the strongest category for Ariel. There are no throw-aways or filler. Every track is stupendous. Part of Your World may be a testament to all the ways Ariel is greedy and selfish, but it’s also a BRILLIANT song. Under the Sea? Poor Unfortunate Souls? Kiss the Girl? And don’t underestimate the glorious earworm that is LES POISSONS!!!
Ariel’s score goes right back down the tubes here. In it’s truest form, your daughter is stuck wearing a shell bra and a movement-limiting skirt of some kind. Talk about inappropriate. Disney has taken some steps/liberty to create less mermaid-y more princess-y seafoam green ballgowns that are a lot less bile stirring, but still.
**DISCLAIMER** I do not own any of the likenesses of these heroines. All characters/likenesses are the property of Disney, and are not being used here for financial gain ****