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Film / The Little Mermaid (2018)

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The Little Mermaid is a 2018 fantasy romance film loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson's original fairy tale. Chances are, you've probably heard of it because when its trailer went online, it amassed thousands of views from people thinking it was Disney's live-action remake. It's not.

A grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) is telling her two granddaughters the story of the Little Mermaid that she remembers. It takes place in the 1930s, concerning a young girl called Elle who has just lost her parents and is in the care of her journalist uncle Cam (William Moseley). Elle is also sick and upon hearing talks of a 'Mermaid Miracle Juice' in Mississippi, Cam takes her there in search of a story and a cure.

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Tropes:

  • Adaptation Deviation: The mermaid traded her voice for legs in the book. Here she traded her soul.
  • Adaptational Villainy: As in the Disney version, the person who granted the mermaid legs becomes an antagonist.
  • Adult Fear: Elle is kidnapped from her room while Cam is out trying to help Elizabeth.
  • Aerith and Bob: A magician called Locke, a fortune teller called Thora and a mermaid called...Elizabeth.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Elle is of course the old woman telling the story.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening credits depict an animated retelling of the traditional Little Mermaid story.
  • Cardboard Prison: Elizabeth is able to walk out of the circus rather easily without Locke knowing.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The organ with a curious combination turns out to be where Locke is hiding Elizabeth's soul.
    • Elizabeth tells of a fairy tale about a human girl who possesses "the heart of a mermaid". Presumably this is why Elle is revealed to have become one by the end.
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  • Circus of Fear: The circus houses genuine supernatural beings held prisoner.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: The end implies that Cam and Elizabeth can't end up together.
  • Disney Villain Death: Locke meets his end being pushed off a cliff by Cam.
  • Gender Flip: The sea witch of the original tale is replaced with a human sorcerer.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Elle is The Pollyanna due to her belief in fairies, mermaids etc.
  • "I Want" Song: Elizabeth sings a song called "When This Story Ends", while Cam is sneaking around the tents.
  • Ill Girl: Elle has some kind of sickness that causes her to get tired if she exerts herself too much, and makes her cough a lot.
  • Improbable Age: Cam looks a little young to be an established journalist. William Moseley was thirty when the film was made.
  • Informed Ability: Locke is meant to be a powerful sorcerer that no one dares stand up to. Any time he's confronted in a magic battle, he's defeated easily.
  • Like Goes with Like: Elizabeth is a white mermaid held captive by a Hispanic magician. Of course her true love is a white man.
  • Magic Realism: A mermaid, sorcerer and psychic in 1930s Mississippi. The movie however veers more into outright fantasy in the last act - featuring magic battles.
  • Motor Mouth: Peggy Gene, a woman who claims the elixir cured her of madness.
  • Nephewism: Cam taking care of his niece kicks off the plot.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Thora the fortune teller suddenly reveals she has the power to stop time and temporarily give Elizabeth legs when her power had previously just appeared to be telling the future.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Elizabeth gets legs at low tide, but she had to make a deal with a sorcerer to get that. It seems as though returning her soul would take away her ability to walk on land permanently. The water she swims in also appears to grant healing powers. She also appears to be able to grant Elle the power to become a mermaid.
  • The Pollyanna: Cam lampshades this about Elle in a letter, saying she's taking her parents' death incredibly well.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Cam spends a scene of exposition in an underwater cave with Elizabeth while his shirt is like this.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Cam is fully suited up at first, but wears an Intimate Open Shirt when he takes Elle to the circus and sees Elizabeth for the first time. He wears his shirt this way whenever he sees Elizabeth from then on.
  • Unexplained Accent: It's not said why Elle has a British uncle. We can assume Cam's brother married an American girl.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not said what happened to the mermaid's original lover.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Locke is perfectly willing to use Elle for...something.
  • Yandere: Locke wants to control Elizabeth and doesn't take it well when she falls for another.
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