Classic Review: Splash (1984) –

You know how Ghost and Pretty Woman perfectly encapsulated the early 90’s in film? That’s what Splash did for the 80’s. The film is the perfect example of what blockbusters where about at that time: totally empty not to mention totally fun to watch.

Splash saw Hanks plays Allen, a man named Allen Bauer who owns and runs a fruit and vegetable market alongside his brother Freddie (John Candy). After he falls into the ocean and is hit by a boat, he is miraculously saved by a mermaid named Madison (Hannah) who can turn her tail into legs when she’s dry. Once Allen wakes up and he sees her, he totally falls in love with her innocence until she disappears and he keeps on dreaming. After she pursues him in Manhattan, their romance truly began to blossom. But their romantic adventure will end up one way or another: a scientist named Walter Kornbluth (Levy) is certain there’s a mermaid in Manhattan, and he’ll do anything to prove it. As a result, he chases Madison around trying to splash her with water to see her legs will turn back into a tail.

Splash is a totally capable film. Howard wasn’t at the height of his capacities at the time as he became a much better director later. However, the film is well directed and very entertaining. It’s not groundbreaking but that’s nothing to be ashamed about. The underwater sequences, in particular, are very well done, and one wonders how hard it must have been for Hannah to act, swing and hold her breath all at the same time. Meanwhile, the script delivers the perfect balance of romance, comedy and adventure. Hannah and Hanks have great chemistry as Allen and Madison, and Hanks does his usual earnest goofy character that we learned to love and cherish over time. He was also quite young here, so there’s an added bonus of youthful energy that comes off as quite charming. Hannah follows his lead with grace and a lot of charisma.

The standout in the cast, though, has to be Candy as Freddie Bauer. Those who lived through the 80’s (and I believe especially us who were kids at that time) have a special place in our hearts for him. He was such a great presence onscreen, especially because his sense of humor was such a delight to watch. He was warm and grounded, like the uncle we all wanted to have when we were kids. He’s absolutely hilarious here and the only sad part is that we end up wishing they had given him more to do. And what a surprise to see Levy here, years before being famous. Kornbluth is not that big of a character but he’s given a lot of great comedic moments that punctuate the story.

Splash is the perfect throwback movie. It smells like the 80’s, it tastes like the 80’s and it certainly transport you to that period for a little less than two hours. So much fun.

still courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

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