Film / Splash

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It is said that everyone has a soul mate, someone with whom they are destined to fall in love and be with for the rest of their lives, regardless of age, gender, geography...

...or, it seems, species.

Splash is a 1984 romantic comedy directed by Ron Howard, surrounding the fairy-tale romance between Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks) and the mermaid (Daryl Hannah) who rescued him from drowning as a boy. Allen grew to adulthood, believing the young mermaid he saw in the water was only a hallucination, until she again saves him from drowning - but in doing so appears on the radar of Dr. Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy), an eccentric, disgraced scientist who wants to prove the existence of mythical creatures like mermaids.

The mermaid seeks him out on land (she develops legs when her tail is dry), coming ashore on Liberty Island to track him down with information from his wallet, dropped during his latest dip in the ocean. As she has no concept of clothing, she is arrested for indecent exposure, and the cops release her into Allen's custody, based on the wallet she carries. But Kornbluth is hot on her trail, and he has scientific pursuits in mind for her...

Can these star-crossed lovers find romance? Can she convince Allen that his series of failed romances are just destiny knocking him on the head? What will their kids look like?

The film was followed by a TV movie sequel which recast all the lead parts and, despite a good performance by Amy Yasbeck as the replacement Madison, fell squarely into garbage territory.

Splash was the first movie released by Disney under the Touchstone Pictures label (then known as "Touchstone Films").

A remake has been announced, with a twist - the main characters have been Gender Flipped.


"Allen Bauer thought he'd never find the right trope. He was only half wrong.":

  • Apparently Human Merfolk: What Allen becomes at the end of the first movie, no tail like Madison but he can now breathe underwater.
  • Award-Bait Song: The end credits song Love Came For Me sung by Rita Coolidge. note 
  • Big Applesauce: Takes place in NYC.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The bitter part is Allen will never see his brother, friends, or even Kornbluth again. The sweet part is being with Madison always.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Allen was mortified and angry when he finds out Madison, the one person he has come to love, is a mermaid. He starts rambling about how "people fall in love every day," and he ends up with (in his word) a "fish." However, his Plucky Comic Relief brother Freddie berates him for giving up on Madison, tells him that "people fall in love every day" is nonsense, and people can never be as happy as Allen felt when he was with Madison.
    Allen: People fall in love every day, and look what I got.
    Freddie: People fall in love every day, is that what you said? Yeah? Well, that's a crock. It doesn't work that way. Some people will never be that happy! I'll never be that happy!
    • Kornbluth also calls out the other scientists, especially Ross, for performing experiments on a non-consenting person, and planning to dissect her.
  • The Cast Show Off: The mermaid tail Daryl Hannah wore was fully functional. The showoff part is that, ironically enough, Hannah had learned to swim mermaid style (legs together) since childhood since she was fascinated by the story of The Little Mermaid. As a result, with the tail, she swam so fast, the safety divers couldn't keep up.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The movie starts out as a fairly light-hearted romance film. Then it gets a lot more serious when Madison's secret is exposed and she's taken prisoner by the government, endangering her life.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Allen and Freddy's secretary, who was hit in the head with lightning.
  • Crazy Consumption: Madison with the lobster. (which required some Enforced Method Acting as the vegetarian Daryl Hannah didn't want to eat the lobster before Ron Howard duped her into it...)
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Don't ask Madison to speak her native language above water.
  • Dirty Kid: Freddie was perverted even as a child.
  • The Ditz: The brothers who help Kornbluth
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Madison, despite acquiring shoes not long after finding Allen.
  • Elevator Going Down: Allen and Madison have sex in the elevator.
  • Fanservice: Any of Madison's assorted nude moments, and this is a PG-rated movie!
  • Fish out of Water: A semi-literal example with Madison.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Allen and Madison have known each other for only a short time before he decides to live with her forever underwater.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: During the rescue.
  • Godiva Hair: When Madison arrives to Liberty Island, she's only covered by her hair.
  • Haven't You Seen X Before?:
    Freddie: What are you looking at? You never seen a guy who slept with a fish before? Get back to work!
  • Heel–Face Turn: Dr. Kornbluth, upon learning that his colleagues plan to dissect Madison and how he would never earn the respect amongst the scientific community he deserves despite exposing Madison.
  • Hidden Depths: Freddy spends most of the movie as the Lovable Sex Maniac Plucky Comic Relief. Then Alan gripes that people fall in love "every day. Look at what I got." Freddy gets dead serious, gives Alan a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech, then says that Alan doesn't appreciate how lucky he is to have someone like Madison: "Every day?! Come on! Some people will never be that happy! I'll never be that happy!"
  • The Hilarity of Hats: Stan the Tour Guide insists, "Do not touch my hat. Do not EVER touch my hat."
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: "No one here, just me and the moron twins." "We're not twins!"
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Kornbluth
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: Because, apparently, dissecting a sentient human-like being wouldn't really put a dent in anyone's careers.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Madison makes a spectacular landfall in search of Allen.
  • Insane Proprietor: Crazy Eddie scares mermaids.
  • Instant Expert: Madison was able to learn English from a single afternoon of watching television.
  • Interspecies Romance: Mermaid and human.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Madison + water = mermaid.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Freddie. He may be lecherous, rude, and insensitive, but he has a good core.
  • Karma Houdini: Dr. Ross never gets any comeuppance.
  • Language of Love: Allen and Madison have a shag in an elevator before they even share a common language.
  • Large Ham: Dr. Kornbluth is very prone to shouting.
    Kornbluth: BEHOLD THE MERMAID!
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Madison picks her name from a street sign.
    Allen: "Madison? That's not a name!"note 
  • Loveable Sex Maniac: Freddy, who has been married countless times (even bringing a date to one of his own weddings), writes letters to Penthouse and will pick up multiple women in one night. However, he's still our Plucky Comic Relief who believes in true love.
  • Love at First Sight: Allen and Madison fall in love almost instantly.
  • Mad Scientist: Kornbluth is more of a Large Ham example. His rival Dr. Ross, while more subdued and serious-sounding then Kornbluth, is an amoral example as he wants to vivisect Madison in spite of her being a sentient person, in contrast to Kornbluth's own morals and conscience he keeps.
  • Magical Girlfriend: Allen is a normal guy who manages to hook up with a hot mermaid.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Madison has a healthy set of lungs... er, gills... oh, whatever...
  • Mermaid Problem: Solved with the dry land = legs solution. The press points it out when they hound Allen with their ridiculous questions.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Allen and Madison meet as children, and instantly fall in love.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: Madison is supposed to be swimming around Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The problem is that she swims past coral reefs, and there are no coral reefs near Cape Cod since the water is too cold. Those scenes were actually filmed in The Bahamas.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Madison, especially when she is first seen nude.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dr. Kornbluth, when he learns they're going to kill the mermaid. All he wanted was to show people he's not crazy, which eventually turned out to be for nothing when his rival Dr. Ross expresses Kornbluth will always be a disgrace of a scientist in his eyes no matter how much he wants to prove himself he isn't. Too bad his mentor wasn't around to say "I hope you're happy now?" and express his disappointment.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: When Dr. Kornbluth tries to pass off Allen and Freddie as visiting Swedish scientists to get them into the research facility where Madison is being held, a suspicious guard asks Allen and Freddie in Swedish, "What are two Swedish scientists doing so far from Sweden?" The guard jovially allows them entry after Freddie tentatively responds in Swedish, "Hey, babe! I got a twelve inch penis." Freddie later explains that he picked up some Swedish phrases from watching hundreds of hours of Swedish pornography.
  • Naked First Impression: Madison being nude on the beach when Allen sees her in adult human form for the first time.
  • Naked on Arrival: Madison has no clothes when she transforms into human form so her first encounters on the beach with Allen and outside the Statue of Liberty have her naked.
  • Naked People Are Funny: What's really funny is Madison's reaction to people seeing her naked.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Despite the Godiva Hair, there are a few underwater shots where the hair doesn't cover Madison's... uh, headlights.
  • Non-Human Lover Reveal: The first time she gets wet.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Madison is a classic mermaid with the variation that she can turn her tail into legs by keeping them dry. If they get wet, they'll instantly turn back into a tail.
  • Painful Transformation: Ron Howard wanted something like this for the bathtub sequence, but decided it would ruin the appeal of the character.
  • Playing with Syringes: When Allen goes to confront Kornbluth he is at the dentist. Expecting Allen to attack him, he grabs the syringe of anesthesia to defend himself.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: What nudity taboo?
  • Rapunzel Hair: Madison
  • The Rival: Dr. Ross for Kornbluth.
  • Starfish Language: The language of mermaids involves high-pitched screeching that sounds similar to dolphins' screech. It is screechy enough to break television screens.
    "[My name is] hard to say in English..."
  • Tail Slap: Madison does this to some of the military soldiers near the end of the movie.
  • They Would Cut You Up: One of the impending examinations when Madison is rescued is implied to be dissection, or possibly even vivisection.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Allen starts acting this way over Madison's strange behavior and her reluctance to marry him. Then he starts being sarcastic towards her, which upsets her and she runs away for a while. Allen regrets acting that way. But this gives Madison some time for consideration of whether or not to stay with him.
  • Underwater Kiss: Must be a mermaid thing.
  • The Unpronounceable: Madison's real name.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: It's quite an endorsement of the greatness of the Statue of Liberty that a beautiful naked woman could be walking around and nobody notices her until the tour guide brings her to their attention.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Freddy was last seen about to be arrested by the feds. If he goes to prison, and Allen never comes back, who's going to run the company?
  • Your Universe or Mine?: When Madison must go back to the ocean, she tells Allen that he can go with her, but he will never be able to return to land. It is never explained why, perhaps it may have to do with the sea hag subplot. Still, he was reluctant at first but accepts readily after saving her from government frogmen.

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