Genre: Mythology? Fantasy?
My Rating: *
Official Rating: PG
Age Group: 12+
Hailey and Claire are two 8th graders struggling with life. Life, of course, means Hailey is moving to a different country, Claire is terrified of water (with a good reason and a touching back story that isn't really explained), and boys. Well, boy. Raymond. They know everything about him, but he doesn't notice them any more than the other people on the beach he lifeguards. This might be because he's old enough to head off to college next year, but that's not really something the girls bring up.
Still, when the sun goes down, they're worried about Hailey leaving. She doesn't want to. She whispers a chant, and the next morning they find a mermaid. She offers them a wish in exchange for helping her prove to her father that love exists. The girls are torn, but in the interest of wishing Hailey to remain in Florida, they agree to help the mermaid, Aquamarine, fall in love--with Raymond.
Word of Warning:
The first part of the movie was utterly shocking, and things actually recovered after that.
- Throughout the movie we see girls in bikinis, though the main characters rarely wear them (if at all).
- 8th graders obsess (yes, obsess) over a guy who is college-age.
- Hailey and Claire are hooked on teen magazines and everything the magazines say about love. They believe every word of it, and though the movie does make it look silly, it never actually debunks any of the ideas it throws out to the viewer.
- Aquamarine, in true mermaid style, does not wear a shirt. Or anything. But her hair is long enough and we never see anything.... Still, the knowledge that she isn't wearing anything is overkill.
- It is mentioned that everyone knows Raymond, and everybody wants him, "even some of the boys."
- Hailey and Claire make a passing remark about another (older) girl's breasts. Claire wishes hers would "appear" like Hailey's fish does when Aquamarine coaxes it out of hiding.
- There is a passing reference to "undies".
- The word "bullshark" is used for swearing, "oh my God" is heard at least twice, and one girl is referred to as a b**ch.
- Raymond spends much of the movie without a shirt. For a guy that everyone has fallen for, he's pretty much what we'd expect: shallow. He does turn around a little bit, but overall, he's just a face with a name everybody knows.
- Characters sneak off the the mall and spend their own savings on dresses, hair-do's, nails, etc. They are not allowed to do this and have to make sure their parents don't find out.
- Aquamarine tries to dance, attempting some awkward and almost seductive moves (common among the age group dancing) but fails so badly there is nothing seductive about it.
- There are two rather chaste kisses.
- Characters lie, are disrespectful to their parents, and act like spoiled brats.
- Characters hide out in a water tower (which is clearly off limits to the public).
- Love is portrayed as an emotion only.
Had the ages been changed a it, and the obsession over boys been dealt with, the language cleaned up, and the obsession over physical looks been banished into near-nonexistence, this movie would have been kind of entertaining. Let's face it, a girl who knows nothing about real life is suddenly tossed into it and, as a teenager, is expected by those around her to know what she's doing. It's funny.
And the funny pretty much disappears in the shadow of all the negative elements.
One line I liked was something to the effect that love is the closest thing humans have to magic. Yes, taking God out of the picture, that's true. Putting God back into the picture, things line up. But there is no God in this world. Maye that's why it's so painfully empty and petty.
Hailey remarks that love doesn't always work. Ahh, Hailey, you have so much to learn. Love isn't an emotion, contrary to what the movie wants the viewer to think. It's an act of the will.
I was happy that Raymond was hesitant to say he loved Aquamarine because, as he points out, they've know each other for three days and had one date. He needs time. He's right, but Aquamarine doesn't understand. Then again, that's understandable. She needs him to say he loves her or else she's whisked off to a dreaded fate. But is saying it meaning it? This is never mentioned, or answered.
In the end, Aquamarine does win after all. She proves love exists. Hailey and Claire love Aquamarine. This was, perhaps, the only element that I really liked in the movie that wasn't spoiled by other things. In our world today, the love of friendship is so overlooked in our books, movies, and music. It's just...friendship. At least one movie got it right.
I just wish it hadn't gotten so much else wrong.