RetroReviews #40: AquaMarine (2006)







  • WARNING: This film should not be viewed by anyone with a Y chromosome.



Such a label doesn’t exist on the DVD cover for this film, but in my opinion, it should. Aquamarine may simply be a fantasy comedy on paper, but more than anything else, this is a chick flick. Worse, it’s a teenybopper chick flick – it’s target audience is basically females between the ages of 8-14, to the point where its cutesy themes about finding the perfect guy for a lonely mermaid girl will cause most adult males to get physically ill. If you haven’t noticed, I didn’t have a fun time watching this movie, but even so, I’m going to put aside my own personal dislike of the approach and subject matter, and try to evaluate the film fairly.



Aquamarine is about two 13 year old girls (played by Emma Roberts and JoJo, looking older than their characters ages) who discover a real life Mermaid (played by Sara Paxton in a perky performance). The Mermaid, named Aquamarine, tells them that she swam away from her underwater kingdom because he father was going to force her to enter into an arranged marriage with a merman she doesn’t like, so the girls resolve to help her find true love with a human guy.



As is the case with Splash (and I think this film was directly “inspired” by that, since I doubt you can find this as any part of traditional mermaid mythology), Aquamarine’s fins magically turn into legs when she’s on land during the day. At night, the girls actually come up with something pretty clever: they hide her away in the city’s water tower, and this becomes an important subplot later on when she’s discovered swimming away at night.



Of course, the film has a happy ending where Aquamarine gets the guy and thanks her new found human friends by giving them starfish earnings. I breathed a sigh of relief when this silly film was over, but from an objective standpoint, it actually does many of its elements better than Splash did. The jokes often work better, the love story is more interesting, the back-story on the mermaid is fleshed out more, the mermaid special effects look better, the conflict with human society discovering the mermaid is more dramatic (unlike Splash where she’s caught and put in observation tank briefly towards the end of the film). The only part that seemed weaker to me was this film actually duplicates the same “Mermaid girl caught in a bathtub with fins” scene from Splash, only this time she hides her true identity by having another girl duck underneath the tub water and kick her legs over the side of tub (huh? Who takes a bath and hangs both legs outside the tub while bathing?) Of course, the main drawback is Splash is a mostly family friendly but from an adult point of view, whereas Aquamarine is clearly aimed at female preteens and makes no attempt to expand its world to anyone else. This film probably would have worked best as a special on the Disney channel.



Thus, as much as it sickens me, I actually have to give Aquamarine a slightly higher rating than Splash, because I thought it did a better job at exploring the same concept, regardless of the fact it exists to entertain 12 year old girls. The little teenybopper in your life will adore this movie. For anyone else, avoid any opportunity to screen Aquamarine. Remember, I warned you.





** ½ out of ****



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