R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Elizabeth Allen
scr John Quaintance, Jessica Bendinger
with Emma Roberts, Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque, Sara Paxton, Jake McDorman, Arielle Kebbel, Claudia Karvan, Bruce Spence, Tammin Sursok, Roy Billing, Julia Blake, Shaun Micallef, Lulu McClatchy
release US 3.Mar.06, UK 23.Jun.06
06/US Fox 1h43

Fish out of water: Paxton and McDorman

roberts levesque karvan

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Aquamarine If you're a 10-year-old, you might love this fluffy little fantasy. Otherwise it's not terribly easy for an intelligent adult to sit through. (This is when my job feels like work.)

Claire and Hailey (Roberts and Levesque) are pre-teen pals who, after a storm in their Florida hometown, discover a teen mermaid named Aquamarine (Paxton) in a beachfront swimming pool. They hide her and, as she switches to legs during the daytime, introduce her to human life. Aquamarine's goal is to prove the existence of true love, and she sets her sights on the town's hottie lifeguard Raymond (McDorman), Claire and Hailey's secret crush. But their mean-girl nemesis (Kebbel) thinks something's fishy about the new girl.

The script is painfully simplistic, with a few flashes of life and a couple of very funny moments that surprise us amid the predictable, corny nonsense. Most of the plot is so contrived it hurts (why, with swimming pools and bathtubs everywhere, do they hide Aquamarine in a dangerous water tower?). And while the characters have the potential to be intriguing, they are all blanded down into cardboard cut-outs.

The acting is fine. Roberts and Levesque make the most out of their nondescript roles. At least Levesque does on-screen moodiness well (see also RV). But Paxton fares less well as the fish out of water (sorry) who, golly gee, just doesn't understand anything. Youngsters will spend hours in front of a mirror trying to replicate the cocktail dress she effortlessly fashions from a baggy T-shirt (hint: without a costume department, it won't work). Meanwhile, McDorman is basically reduced to teenybopper porn.

Visually, the film looks like a Saturday morning TV series, so it'll fare better on video than in cinemas--cheap effects, dodgy lighting, awkward direction. But it's the script that's the problem, piling on pathologically lame subplots and inane coincidences, plus an undercurrent of unchecked sappiness that even young girls will find excruciatingly obvious. And unless you have a high tolerance for cute, girly wish-fulfilment, the final scenes are so glaringly (and hilariously) awful that you actually feel seasick. Just watch Splash again instead.

cert PG themes, some language 30.May.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Aquamarine Kiara, Vermont: 5/5 "I thought this film was very well done, with costumes, and especially casting! This story is just a heart-warming tail (tale)! It really kind of shows what preteen life can be like! It was funny and romantic at the same time! Great job!" (10.Aug.06)
2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall