Synopsis: A man is reunited with a mermaid who saves him from drowning as a boy and falls in love not knowing who/what she is.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman
Director: Ron Howard
Running Length: 111 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: Growing up, I think I saw Splash more times than I care to admit (it was the first movie I saw on Beta!). I think it was the fantasy nature of the film that made it so appealing and I always got a huge kick of John Candy but the romance angle of the movie went right over my head…as it often does for young children. As I revisit some Ron Howard movies (like Backdraft, The Paper, and Parenthood) I couldn’t let this one slide by because it was a landmark film for several reasons.
First off, though Splash wasn’t the first film that Howard directed it was the huge success of this one that cemented the child actor’s transition to dependable Hollywood director. Howard became quite in demand, churning out a movie a year for the next two decades. In addition to making Howard bankable, this was the first role that Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah got major notice for and rightfully so. Though the film was originally intended for Michael Keaton and Brooke Shields (which would have been interesting), watching the movie now I see how much of the film’s success is owed to the performances of Hanks and Hannah as two people from different worlds destined to be together.
The charm these two exude could fuel a mid-size city and there’s a surprising amount of chemistry on display. Though Hanks would go on to win Oscars and Hannah would show up in lesser/lighter fare, the star wattage from both is just one piece of Howard’s excellent casting choices here. Candy, as Hanks’ sweetly crude brother is dynamite and long before he was an American Pie dad, Levy (American Reunion) is goofball gold as a bumbling scientist trying to prove Hannah’s mermaid origins.
Ah…that’s right. This is, after all, a mermaid tale and the Oscar nominated script manages to not date itself too much but instead works wonders with the star-crossed lovers storyline. There’s a sense of destiny and fate that surround Hanks NYC businessman and Hannah’s sea-life mermaid that just gels and rises above its marginally silly set-up.
The first film released from Disney offshoot Touchstone pictures, Splash was an unexpected box-office hit (spawning a less impressive Disney Movie of the Week, Splash Too!) and hurtled all involved to instant stardom. Though I’d seen it countless times, this recent viewing revealed it to be a touching love story with a little bit of magic added to the mix.