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U GOTTA SEE THIS `LITTLE MERMAID' SWIMS AGAIN.

Byline: Rob Lowman Entertainment Editor

When Disney's ``The Little Mermaid'' was released in 1989, it ushered in a second golden era of animation.

Throughout the '70s and '80s, the animation scene was less than memorable, and even the studio that made its name with ``Bambi,'' ``Pinocchio,'' ``Cinderella'' and ``Sleeping Beauty had fallen into slumberous times.

There was a market out there, but the studios seemed to release indifferent films, while ambitious indie types' offerings didn't connect with younger kids. No one seemed to have the imagination or am-

bition to wake up the audience.

The kiss of life turned out to be ``The Little Mermaid,'' Disney's 28th animated feature. Words like ``magical'' and ``enchanting'' were suddenly back in filmgoers' and critics' vocabularies. Loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, it tells of a mermaid, Ariel, who falls in love with a prince. In order to follow him on land, Ariel strikes a bargain with Ursula, an evil octopus. Complications, of course, arise.

The story is funny, a bit scary (but not too scary for little ones), romantic and adventurous. And in ``Mermaid,'' Disney returned to the lushly beautiful animation it was known for -- and instead of cutting costs with computers, used them to make the look more spectacular.

Plus there was great, fun music from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The score won an Oscar and ``Under the Sea'' was best song, beating out another ``Mermaid'' entry, ``Kiss the Girl.''

Disney is now giving ''Mermaid'' the royal treatment with a limited-time offer of a special remastered two-disc set ($29.99).

Extras include new commentary, behind-the-scenes features, deleted scenes, a music video of ``Kiss the Girl'' and games and activities for kids.

Animation is still doing well at the box office (witness ``Open Season'' at No. 1 last week), but it's more jokey these days. But I doubt any of the recent fare will have the shelf life of ``The Little Mermaid, which is a classic.

Rob Lowman, (818) 713-3687

robert.lowman(at)dailynews.com

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Disney takes young viewers under the sea again, with a special remastered two-disc set of ``The Little Mermaid.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 5, 2006
Words:357
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