The big mermaid

Splash actually marked a monumental moment in cinematic history. Until its release in 1984, Disney had specialized in animated films and G-rated live-action fare like The Shaggy Dog and The Apple Dumpling Gang. In fact, Disney was so afraid to release a film featuring nudity that Touchstone, a faction of the studio meant for more adult-oriented entertainment, was born. A charming mermaid tale starring the little-known Tom Hanks and virtually unknown Darryl Hannah, it was a huge hit for director Ron Howard, and features one of the late John Candy’s best film performances. Hanks, coming off the recently canceled TV show Bosom Buddies, was referred to Howard after a guest spot on Happy Days. That week’s episode, where Hanks had a showdown with the Fonz, proved to be one of the more important stepping stones in his amazing career. While some of the film’s humor doesn’t stand the test of time, Eugene Levy is still very funny as a meddling scientist, and the team of Hanks and Candy, who would later costar in The Volunteers, is likeable. Hannah is an absolute charmer as mermaid Madison, and this film stands as her most enduring screen work.

Special Features: Making a Splash, a behind the scenes documentary with the participation of Howard and the film’s major stars, is a decent enough watch, but the real reason to get the DVD is the audition tapes. A very young Hanks reads for his part, at one time doing a love scene with Ron Howard in which he proposes. Priceless.

Movie: B-

Special Features: B+

DVD Geek Factor: 3