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The Little Mermaid

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The Little Mermaid

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The film that marked the beginning of Disney's multibillion-dollar animation resurgence, 1989's The Little Mermaid, is back in theaters for a limited 17-day run intended to serve a dual purpose: to grease the wheels for what will ultimately be a monumentally lucrative video rerelease, and to deflate the tires of Anastasia, the high-profile, decidedly Disney-style animation extravaganza slated for release by a rival studio next week. Lost in all this is a fun, albeit unspectacular, animated movie, filled with Disney staples like cute animal characters, a scenery-chewing villainess, and a small-nosed pixie heroine who yearns to travel to distant lands and marry a large-nosed hunk prince. The Little Mermaid's songs, by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, are often terrific; they were good enough to trigger a knee-jerk string of Best Song Oscars for the Disney films that followed. And while you can't help but sneer at the studio's calculated marketing strategy—its release is deliberately timed to sabotage another movie—it's still one of the best films in theaters right now.