Thursday, 23 June 2016

Splash!

Splash!; romantic fantasy comedy, USA, 1984; D: Ron Howard, S: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy

As a kid, Allen was saved from a little girl from drowning in the sea, not knowing she was a mermaid. 20 years later, Allen works as a manager of a fruit and vegetables distribution company in New York, and is feeling lonely since his girlfriend just left him - not even his brother Freddie can cheer him up. As he almost drowns in a sea for the second time, he loses his wallet and the mermaid from before decides to bring it back to him - by transforming into a normal human with legs. She is taught English from TV, is named Madison and makes love with Allen for the next week. However, one scientist splashes her and thus transforms her legs back into fins. With the help of Freddie, Allen saves Madison from a reserach laboratory - and despite her warning that he can never return back to the human world is he joins her, he follows her to live as a mermaid himself.

A fairy tale set in the modern times, "Splash!" manages to work thanks to the fact that director Ron Howard treats such an outlandish mermaid tale with a lot of humor and self-irony, never forgetting that it is light entertainment, yet he still enriched it with a surprising amount of honest romance and emotions, which gives it additional spark. Writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel elegantly set up the storyline elements in the opening act - from the scene where Allen (a great Tom Hanks) hears his girlfriend left him, which causes him to lose it at the wedding since she was invited as a guest as well, up to his decision to take a taxi to the sea on a whim - which all appertain the main symbolic theme, namely how the hero is a lonely outsider, but finds a soulmate in another outsider, a girl who is a mermaid, which might be symbolic for a foreigner with an entirely different culture. There are pleanty of laughs in the first half, and it is a delight seeing Hanks and Daryl Hannah in a pure comic spirit (the scene of a boat helmsan realizing the motor got broke, so he simply jumps into the water and swims away, leaving Allen alone in the middle of the sea; Madison, walking on the streets of New York for the first time, says "What's that?" and curiously runs towards a speeding car, which thus suddenly stops only for another car to crash into its rear), as well as having another fine supporting role for John Candy, which all alleviate the rather thin, attenuate writing in the weaker second half of the film. Despite the omissions and sometimes banal gags, the thing remembered the most about the film is its straggering ending: not only is it untypically romantic and emotional, but also speaks a lot about people finding their true place in the world and inner peace.

Grade;++

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