Hannah's making a Splish Splash
As a young boy Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks) was rescued from drowning off of Cape Cod by a young mermaid. 20 years later and having returned to Cape Cod to think things through he is once again rescued from drowning but doesn't realise that the beautiful woman who saved him is the same mermaid (Daryl Hannah) as she flees back into the sea. Having returned to New York, Allen is surprised when this beautiful and uninhibited woman who rescued him turns up and immediately he falls head over heals for her, but she has a secret and if her legs get wet then Allen may think something fishy is going on.
The storyline to "Splash" is for the most simple and charming delivering a blend of romance and laughs with the mythical fantasy element of a mermaid. It's not a terrible storyline and to be honest quite simple to follow with the obvious issues such as Madison hiding her mermaid nature from Allen providing not so much drama but a meaning for all the comedy. It is when it focuses of Madison and her uninhibited naive ways, such as dancing in the shop, eating lobster by hand, or reciting ads from TV having learned to speak English in the space of the afternoon where it all works wonderfully. It's a little quirky, totally unrealistic but also funny and charming to boot as the innocent Madison learns about life on land with the man she loves.
But "Splash" becomes a little cluttered with the subsidiary scientist storyline who is desperate to prove he is not insane by proving that Madison is in fact a Mermaid. "Splash" certainly needs this extra storyline and with Eugene Levy excelling as scientist Walter Kornbluth it is still amusing but it over complicates a simple movie trying to give it some drama which in fact it doesn't necessarily need. It starts to ponder questions about loving a mermaid which to be honest feel out of place in what is a charming, humorous love story and has the knock on effect of making it feel drawn out and slightly repetitive with the same ground being covered over and over again.
But whilst "Splash" has these issues and to be honest they are not terrible ones, it is quite impressive when you consider that this was one of Ron Howard's, he of Happy Days fame, first directional outings with a major movie. Add to this that other than John Candy the rest of the main cast Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah and Eugene Levy were not the big stars that they have become. Yet it all comes together in a convincing and pleasant manner delivering a movie which feels like for the most it has been created by a bunch of seasoned professionals.
Tom Hanks is particularly charming as Allen Bauer delivering some wonderful visual humour mixed with plenty of decent dialogue. What is marvellous is that other than being a bit whiney at times and looking young Hanks hasn't changed that much over the years, capable of delivering the same sort of charm and humour now as he achieved all those years ago. Whilst partnering up with John Candy to be the most unlikely of brothers, Candy does deliver the big over the top performance that the late Canadian did so well, but it is the childlike enthusiasm which is amusing such as when he still accidentally drops coins to look up women's skirts even though he is meant to have grown up that makes it an amusing performance and provides the contrast to the more sensible Hanks.
But in many ways "Splash" belongs to Daryl Hannah not just because she fuelled male fantasies by strolling by the statue of liberty naked but because she delivers a great character. The whole naivety of Madison, named such when she saw the street sign, is for want of a better word just lovely, there is no embarrassment when it comes to her inhibitions and quirky ways and that is what makes her so charming. When she walks into Bloomingdales and sees all the clothes and makeup the innocence yet fun of it charms you even mesmerizes you at times.
But as already mentioned "Splash" didn't live up to my memories and whilst it's amusing and charming in equal measures it's just not as amusing and charming as I remembered. It feels surprisingly drawn out with a bit of a repetitive nature to many of the gags. What is more surprising is visually it hasn't dated that badly, with the Mermaid effects whilst not up to current CGI standards are not that shoddy, it's just a little weak when watched now.
What this all boils down to is that "Splash" is still a charming and amusing movie, which will raise a few smiles and no doubt fuel male fantasies with Daryl Hannah uninhibited performance. But it is not a great 80s movie, well not as great as I remembered and suffers from an over repetitive storyline which seems to drift a little in places.