Film: Mermaids

Left to right: Charlotte, Rachel, Kate, Lou.

"Charlotte, I know you're planning a celibate life, but with half my chromosomes, I think that might be tough."
Rachel Flax

Mermaids is a 1990 dramedy directed by Richard Benjamin and starring Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder (who was nominated for a Golden Globe), and Christina Ricci in her first film role. Interestingly, the movie was 110 minutes long and made $110 million. Each minute of the film was worth one million dollars.

Rachel Flax (Cher) is what used to be called a "loose woman". She's also the mother of Charlotte (Winona Ryder) and Kate (Christina Ricci), who are forced to move from town to town to escape their mother's failed relationships. Defiantly sexy and nonmaternal, Mrs. Flax is a constant source of embarassment to the older Charlotte, who turns to prudish dress & behavior in reaction to her mother's reputation. Charlotte fantasizes about being a nun, and is thrilled when their move to Massachusetts puts them a stone's throw away from an actual convent. Yet proving to be even more thrilling is the handsome handyman Joe (Michael Schoeffling) that works for the nuns. Charlotte is terrified that her attraction to him means she'll turn out just like her mother.

Meanwhile, her mother is having some problems of her own. The town's genial shoe salesman, Lou Landsky (Bob Hoskins), seems good for a few laughs. Unfortunately, he digs his heels in and wants a real relationship with Rachel, and doesn't go away no matter how badly she behaves.

This film provides examples of:

  • Miss Conception: Charlotte thinks she gets pregnant from kissing.
  • Nonindicative Name: Don't go into this movie expecting it to be about mermaids.
  • Only Sane Woman: Charlotte feels like she can be this, especially when dealing with Mrs. Flax.
    "Sometimes, I feel like you're the child and I'm the grown-up."
  • Olympic Swimmer: Kate aspires to be one, just like her father.
  • Really Gets Around: Mrs. Flax. The Flaxs move frequently as a result of Mrs. Flax escaping her failed relationships, and at the start of the film Charlotte says that they've moved 18 times.
    Mrs. Flax: Okay, how do I look?
    Charlotte: Like a woman about to go forth in sin.
    Mrs. Flax: Oh good, exactly the look I was hoping for.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    Mrs. Flax: We're gonna play my favorite game: "who's the worst mother in the world?" Oh now, don't tell me, let me guess, who could it be? Could it be — ME?
  • Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Charlotte. She ultimately does have sex with Joe.
  • The Sixties: The film begins in early fall 1963.
  • World of Snark