The Kitschies' Gothic Evening
Hard Case Crime Files: Heart of Gold

Monsters & Mullets: Splash (1984)

Splash PosterThere were rules about being a little girl in the 1980s, and those rules included this: mermaids are awesome, always. (Also, unicorns are the best.) Despite never having seen Splash, I knew it had to be the greatest film ever produced. (The Last Unicorn aside; see above.) Splash could, to my fevered little girl’s imagination, only have been improved it if were about a pirate paleontologist mermaid. And maybe it was! My parents wouldn’t rent it for me, so I had no idea. Splash might well have been about a time-travelling, adventure-having, world-saving princess mermaid pirate paleontologist with a pet dragon and a magical sword.

It probably was.

I finally got around to watching Splash sometime in the mid-90s, and I recall finding it more boring than anything else. Having long since gone off mermaids, and having never really cared about Tom Hanks, Splash just didn’t have much to offer my wide-wale-corduroy-wearing teenaged self. It washed across my consciousness leaving little behind but the faint, salt-flavored trace of a childhood dream disappointed.

Revisiting Splash another fifteen years on, however – well, it turns out Splash isn’t just disappointing and/or boring. It’s actually kind of awful. It’s a dated, lukewarm, unfunny comedy at best; at worst, it’s a thoughtless, ugly, wholly reductive paeon to man’s basest desires and fundamental fears about sex, women and adult responsibility. 

Or is it?

What if, deep within the heart of Splash’s puerile fantasies and comedy sexism there’s another film – a secret film? A film that’s not a stupid 80s romcom but a profoundly melancholy examination of a dying child’s fantasy about the adult life he’ll never experience?

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Bear with me, and let’s see where this ship takes us.

Splash“Wooly Bully” plays over the most boring opening titles ever – text wiggling around over shots of water. That’s it.  Anyway. The film opens on a tour-boat floating around Cape Cod, “twenty years ago.” A plump little boy, maybe twelve years old, pretends to drop some change and then crawls around looking up women’s skirts. No one actually does this in real life. No one has ever actually done this in real life. And yet, somehow, it’s reasonably regular cinematic shorthand for “funny little boy.”  There’s a second, slightly younger, much moodier kid, staring into the water. He seems to see something and… jumps into the water. While floating a few feet below the surface of the ocean, he makes eye-contact with a little girl mermaid. They reach out to each other and hold hands. It’s clearly love at first sight, because this is an 80s romcom and it’s always love at first sight between two ten-year-old kids. After an improbably long time with the two kids holding hands under the water, we see a splash of an adult jumping in to rescue the boy.

Cut to: New York City. This morning. The moody kid has grown into Tom Hanks. The fat kid is now John Candy. In one of the weirder jobs ever portrayed in an 80s romcom, Tom Hanks is a produce wholesaler. I’ll bet a billion dollars that John Candy is his fat, lazy-slob, layabout-with-a-heart-of-gold brother, because this is the 80s, and John Candy is always the fat, lazy-slob, layabout-with-a-heart-of-gold relative.

Oh, John Candy. He’s easily the best thing about this film, being intensely charismatic and managing to infuse his thankless, unredeemably awful character with charm and pathos.

Anyway, Candy appears on the scene wearing a maroon velvet coat and driving a flashy red sportscar. Within about three and a half seconds we learn that he’s Tom Hanks’ fat, lazy-slob, layabout brother. Will a heart of gold eventually be revealed beneath that louche exterior? Only 90 minutes will tell!

We learn that Tom Hanks (Allen) has a ball-busting ‘80s girlfriend, Victoria, and that he doesn’t really love her. DTMFA, Victoria. Your boyfriend is in love with a pre-adolescent mermaid. Victoria does so, right quick. Well done! Meanwhile, John Candy (Freddie) exposits that he’s set up some sort of major business deal with a major supermarket chain, and that all Allen has to do to make it work is to lie about being a Vietnam vet when he meets the bigwigs. This plot-line never really pays off, so it’s best forgotten about.

A few things are particularly worth noting about the above: adult Freddie still drops change as en excuse to get on his hands and knees and peer up women’s skirts. We never meet or see Victoria; we only hear a phone-conversation between her and Allen. And Allen is shown having a ditzy, forgetful elderly secretary who, as it turns out, hit her head the week before and is now seriously impaired. She will be shown becoming increasingly impaired as the film goes on. Because this is an ‘80s romcom, however, this elderly woman’s traumatic brain injury is played for laughs.

SplashAllen confesses to Freddie that he never loved Victoria… because he’s in love with a little girl mermaid he saw while he was drowning twenty years ago. Freddie, a character who’s riding sex-predation for larfs, is all “that is some twisted shit, yo.” Ugh, not really. Because this is an ‘80s romcom, the brothers go to a random wedding where everyone asks Allen about Victoria, and then Freddie takes Allen out drinking. We learn that Allen is a sloppy, hateful drunk. He approaches a flirting couple and asks wildly inappropriate questions before spilling a drink all over the woman, then monologues to a second couple about all he wants is to fall in love and get married and have kids, but he’s going to grow old and lonely instead. The only thing that saves this scene is Tom Hanks’ incredible charisma, which makes his character’s pathetic whining a little more palatable than it might otherwise be.

Incredibly shitfaced, Allen decides to go to Cape Cod, to revisit the scene of his childhood almost-drowning/love-connection. He takes cab there, from Manhattan, because this is a comedy and that is “funny.” Apparently the produce-wholesale business is pretty good; Allen carries enough cash to take a 250-mile cab-ride from New York City to Massachusetts.

SplashNot quite enough cash, it would seem: Allen gets ejected… across the bay from Cape Cod? And he has to take a boat to get where he’s going? I have no idea. Meanwhile, criminally-misused Eugene Levy is moving… stuff? Around? On the beach?  He is some sort of professional dork named Walter Kornbluth, because that is 80s funny. He has two dumb assistants, because that is how 80s science works: the dork with the dumb name “makes science” and the two stupid heavies “hilariously ruin everything, with their dumbness.” We learn that Allen can’t swim.

Walter is some sort of oceanographer, I suspect. Well, this being an 80s romcom, he’s probably “an oceanologist,” or something similar. I’ll bet you he’s looking for mermaids! Anyway, for incredibly tiresome “funny” reasons, Allen winds up stuck in a dingy in the middle of the ocean. He smacks the stalled engine with a hammer and then falls overboard.  The boat hits him on the head.

(There’s a case to be made that the film’s fantasy sequence actually begins here, with the second near-death experience – but I think it’s a stronger argument that the whole movie is a dying ten-year-old’s fantasy of adult life, rather than a dying man-child’s fantasy about finding love in the big city. Anyway, more about that after we get through the plot.)

Allen wakes face-down on a sandy “Cape Cod” beach. It is clearly not Cape Cod, because the ocean is the wrong color and the sand is the wrong color and the plants are the wrong plants and, oh yeah, this scene was filmed in Barbados. But we’re supposed to believe this is Cape Cod. A naked blonde watches Allen from afar. The incredible gravitational pull of Tom Hanks’ undeniable everyman charisma exerts and irresistible pull upon her, and she kisses him before hopping into the water and… vanishing. Allen stares. Could she be a mermaid?

SplashUh, yes. We get mermaid cam! The mermaid swims around and finds his wallet on the ocean floor. Walter Kornbluth, who’s hanging around in a scuba suit doing sciency oceanologist things, sees her and flips out, but because this is an 80s comedy the professional ocean scientist who presumably does this stuff all the time can’t operate his underwater camera and finally drops it without having gotten any good pictures of her. The mermaid, meanwhile, finds a map in a sunken ship and somehow manages to read Allen’s driver’s license and comprehend what a map is and how it works to learn where he lives.

SplashBack in New York, Allen’s hilarious secretary is now wearing her bra outside her clothes. The mermaid beaches herself at the Statue of Liberty and starts wandering around, naked. Everyone screams and takes photos. Well, all the dudes take photos.  A policeman tells her “this ain’t California. We don’t go for this stuff here.” HILARIOUS.

The mermaid has Allen’s wallet, so the police finally call him to come fetch her. When he gets to the police station she mashes her face into his as greeting. Golly, mermaid society is very affectionate. Allen, naturally, brings home the strange woman who can’t speak and who he’s seen once, naked, on a beach. She literally cannot keep her hands off him; they get as far as the elevator in his building before she throws him up against a wall and we get the fade to black of a PG sex-scene. Yes, they’re fucking in his elevator. He doesn’t even know her name.

SplashSo, Allen apparently lives in a hotel. The produce-wholesale business must be really good. They have sex. Order room service. Have sex. He tries to leave for work. They have more sex instead. She’s never said a single word.

Sometime later, Allen finally gets his penis out of his silent, nameless partner’s vagina and goes back to his incredibly profitable produce-wholesale business, all floaty from exhaustion and sex-having.  Meanwhile, the mermaid teaches herself about brands and high-end department stores by watching tv. Prepare yourself for some 80s hilarity! Taking Allen’s wallet, the mermaid heads downtown to spend a day spending his money – by handing his wallet to people when she wants to pay for things. The department store is a magical fairytale wonderland of wonderful, mysterious girl-things like makeup and hair-products and shoes and skirts and dresses and yay! So much stuff to buy! A comedy-accented saleslady makes a joke about her anorexic daughter. Then the mermaid teaches herself English by watching advertisements on the bank of televisions in the electronics section.

SplashAllen returns home to find his silent sex-bunny gone. He asks the bellman for help – he’s looking for a girl. The bellboy offers to procure him one for 200 bucks. PROSTITUTION, AMIRITE? Allen eventually tracks her down.

Meanwhile, the electronics guys are more than happy to let Daryl do aerobics in front of the tvs because she’s hot. Anyway, Allen appears to rescue her, only to discover that now she can talk. And talk she does – in the high-pitched voice of a child. And she likes music and bright lights and pretty things. As they walk through the city, we learn she’s only got six days or she’ll be stuck in human form forever.  She doesn’t really explain this to Allen, though; he comes away from the conversation thinking she’s some sort of… illegal immigrant. Really. Seeing a street sign, she names herself Madison. Allen explains that Madison’s not a name. Well, it wasn’t before this movie. He invites her to stay with him as long as she’s in town, so they head back to his pad for more sex.

Later she takes a salt-water bath and relaxes in her piscine form. Allen wakes to find her spending a few minutes away from him and flips out, threatening to break down the door if she doesn’t let him in.

SplashAllen: You either open this door or I’m going to break it down!

Madison: [her voice breaking] Allen, no! Please!

Check out how creepy that screenshot is. The blocking is straight out of 1970s grindhouse.

Allen breaks the door down, but she’s fortunately dry enough that her tail has reverted to legs. She explains she was shy. He’s all “after all the fucking?”

Meanwhile, Walter Kornbluth and his duo of dimwits are hilariously pratfalling, hilariously, on their research boat. It’s funny because this is an 80s romcom, and Kornbluth’s a schlubby scientist who wears glasses. Kornbluth sees a tabloid and realizes that the naked girl in the pictures is his mermaid. Because that makes a lot of sense, if you think about it.

SplashThe next morning finds Madison learning about death by watching Bonanza on tv. She cries, because death is a tragedy. Allen explains that she’s supposed to laugh at death. (BECAUSE THIS IS A COMEDY ABOUT A DROWNING CHILD’S DYING FANTASY) Then he gives her a big box from Tiffany’s. She’s delighted by the box. It’s funny because she doesn’t know what a present is. Such refreshing, childlike innocence. So sexy. Anyway, the present is a music box: two figures dancing in a bell-jar. Allen stares at Madison with terrifying intensity as she giggles at the pretty music and the audience whispers to each other, “this is in no way an apt and creepy metaphor for the central relationship in this fucked-up film.”

They take a walk to a park that’s about to bulldozed to build condos. There’s a fountain decorated with a mermaid in the park, and they talk about how much Allen loves the fountain. The music is soft and the lights are sparkly, so we know they’re Falling in Love. Indeed, so in love is Allen that he almost tells Madison about his dream-girl/mermaid-baby. But he still can’t say “I love you.” (I’d like to point out that Allen’s inability to say “I love you” is treated as the film’s central conflict.)

SplashWe cut to Freddie and Allen playing squash. Freddie smokes and drinks beer in between swings, which is actually kind of awesome. They talk about their feelings. Freddie makes fun of Allen for being such a drama-queen. The formerly mororse Allen’s in a good place these days, now that he has a submissive, childish fuck-bunny about whom he knows nothing living in his apartment.

Meanwhile, Walter is trying to convince a bunch of tightly-wound cinema-scientist types that mermaids are real. With paleontology. [I HAVE NO IDEA.] Amazingly, the scientists don’t believe him, so Walter starts stalking Madison and throwing buckets of water at “her.” (That is, women who are dressed like Daryl Hannah.) Hilarity ensues as Walter’s increasingly desperate attempts to throw buckets of water at random women and then photograph the results make him look like a sex-predator, too.

SplashAllen gets home from squash to find the mermaid fountain in his bedroom. Madison traded her one worldly possession, a gold necklace, to buy it for him. In what constitutes character development for this movie, Allen then admits that he loves her.

Next on the 80s romcom greatest hits list? The awkward date! Allen takes Madison to a fish restaurant, where she stares lovingly at him from across the table and never says a word.  Then she eats a lobster shell-first, to everyone’s horror. Whatever. It’s New York, for fuck’s sake. Then they go ice-skating. We see that she’s dressed like a little girl in an incredibly childish pink flowered dress. Allen, totally overcome with love for his silent, submissive, statue-buying, lobster-shell-eating, sex-providing woman-child date, proposes. Because she can’t stay with him, because she’s not a human, Madison tries to let him down gently. Allen tries to browbeat her into marrying him. Whatever her big secret is, he explains, even if she used to be a man, he doesn’t care. He’ll still love her. He just wants to get married, yo.

SplashShe continues to refuse him. Allen yells at her and goes into a huff, and continues to say horrible things to her until she cries. And finally, finally, Madison runs away.

80s movie alert: it’s raining and Allen’s wandering around bedraggled and miserable. THIS IS NO LESS THAN HE DESERVES. Madison, meanwhile, is huddled under a bridge. Eventually dawn breaks and we find her staring into the sea. She strips and… cut to Allen, brooding at his produce-wholesale place. He looks up… and there she is! She hasn’t abandoned this miserable jerk of a man. She smiles at him and agrees to become Mrs. Jerkface. Allen perks up and tries to talk her into getting married immediately.

I have to take a moment to describe, in full, how incredibly fucked-up the reunion scene is. He’s sitting there, sulking. She appears.

SplashMadison: Allen?

Allen: What?

Madison: Yes. [They kiss]

He doesn’t apologise for being a complete jackhole, for making her cry, or for driving her away. Nope. He just snits at her until she does what he wants, then tries to talk her into getting married, like, now. What a catch. Madison tries to tell him about being a mermaid – so he’ll know before they commit to marriage, but Allen doesn’t give a shit: “I love you and we’re getting married tonight.” I say again, what a catch!

Cut to: that night. Allen and Madison are at some sort of formal produce-wholesale business dinner, where “the President” is speaking. ‘Cause Reagan made a lot of time for the produce-wholesalers of New York City, lemme tell you. Madison is dressed like a child.  Allen whispers through the dinner about all the children they’re going to have. Madison looks miserable.

SplashKornbluth is, somehow, also at this dinner – as a maître d'. He’s sporting a broken arm and a neck-brace from his previous “hilarious” attempts to, erm, unmask the mermaid. Just as Madison is about to tell Allen her secret, Kornbluth sprays her with water. She screams and flails on the ground and turns into a mermaid. A  billion photographers, all there for the President, jostle Allen aside to take pictures.  He just sort of stands there. Madison is swarmed with people pressing her and grabbing her and photographing her, and starts screaming “Allen, please! Allen!” Allen… stands there. It’s awful. Finally, people pick her up and carry her away. Allen… stands there.

Then someone jostles him away, too. How would anyone know he’s the person she’s screaming for? Maybe, if he’d done something like rush to her, or try to protect her. But… he just stood there. Hey, Allen? Message from the front: fuck you.

SplashNext 80s trope: science is hilariously scary and evil! Allen’s naked, in a tank, with wires attached to him. Scientists dump Madison into the tank with him. She, seriously, looks like she’s dying. He’s all, “you’re a mermaid. I’m… kinda not cool with that.” Madison finally fucking calls Allen on his whole “whatever you’re hiding I don’t care.” He says “I know, but…” and then slaps her away when she reaches for him.

Then the evil scientists put Allen back in his tux and blindfold him and send him home, where reporters ask him about what it was like to fuck a mermaid. Allen is sad and confused. THANK GOD FOR HIS FAT, LAZY-SLOB PIECE-OF-SHIT BROTHER, AM I RIGHT? Because it’s time for that heart of gold to be revealed!

SplashFreddie rolls up in his awesome red convertible, makes a joke about porn, and whisks Allen away to their produce factory-thingie. Massive-head-injury secretary is wearing a pink raincoat and a shower-cap. HILARIOUS. IT NEVER STOPS BEING HILARIOUS. Allen sulks about how he fell in love with a fish, and now everyone is calling him “Fish Man,” because everything is all about him: “I don’t expect [love] to be perfect – but, for God’s sake, it’s usually human. Every day, people meet and fall in love, and look what I got.”

Freddie calls him on his shit. John Candy was a really, really good actor, you guys.

Back in the Evil Science Lab, Kornbluth is having second thoughts about the whole mermaid thing – possibly brought on by the fact that she is clearly dying. He learns the evil scientists are going to kill her and autopsy her, because science is scary and evil. Kornbluth reconsiders his vocation. A meaningful oboe of meaning tootles mournfully as he takes off his glasses to watch Madison decay in her tank.

SplashMeanwhile, Allen is sulking in his hotel/apartment, staring at the enormous fucking mermaid fountain Madison bought him with the only thing she owned. This is serious stuff, folks.

Uh. Kornbluth is getting his teeth done? And Allen finds him? Somehow? We’ll let this pass, because, according to the Q the Winged Serpent Rules of New York City Contrivance, the first place you look for a single person in a city of eight million plus people is where you’ll find that person. What we learn, as schlubby everyman confronts schlubby scientist, is that Kornbluth is a Man of Science. But he was so focused on his science that he didn’t stop to think how his actions might affect Allen or Madison. Cue 80s cinematic moral #7: Feelings are Better than Science.  

SplashAllen, Freddie and Kornbluth hie off to rescue Madison. It’s funny because Kornbluth has been dosed with Novicaine and can barely walk. They get past the (single) security guard at the entrance to the Evil Science Lab because Freddie can say things about the size of his dick in Swedish. Seriously.

For some reason, Madison is happy to see Allen. Since he’s decided that he is okay with her being a mermaid, they make out. Even though her skin is, like, sloughing off. She tells him it’s okay if he doesn’t love her any more. Best woman ever. Whatever; he totally still loves her. Yay!

Allen and Kornbluth carry her out even though, if she were dry, she’d have legs? Freddie stays behind in the tank because of Immortal Rule of Cinematic Comedy #1: fat dudes are inherently hilarious. John Candy died from an obesity-related heart attack a decade later.

SplashWe get some NY traffic jokes during the get-away – people diving out of the way, the car plowing through Central Park (the chess-playing oldsters don’t even look up); a cabbie who won’t move his cab, etc. When they get stuck in a cul-de-sac or something, Kornbluth offers himself up as a sacrifice distraction to repent for his EVIL SCIENCE. Madison kisses him because that’s the only way she knows to thank a man for being kind to her.

Kornbluth gets even more injured but buys Allen and Madison enough time to make it to the ocean. They hug and it’s all very romantic because she wanted to stay with him forever but once she jumps into the sea she can’t ever come back, boo hoo. (This wasn’t ever explained, by the way; an earlier draft of the script had her getting her legs and six-day hall-pass from a sea-witch, but that didn’t make the final cut.) Madison tells Allen that she was the child-mermaid, which thrills him, and asks him to come with her. But, if he does, he can’t ever come back.

SplashWoah there, Nellie. Hold the phones. What about all his stuff? Turns out, Allen’s more than happy to have her sacrifice her entire life for him (and she may not have anything going for her – we know nothing whatsoever about her except that she’s a mermaid and likes sparkly lights), but he can’t do that. He has things. Stuff going on. He says, regretfully, “Madison.” She says, regretfully, “I understand.” Then she kisses him and books. Allen is left alone on the pier with only his bullshit to keep him company. The man-child finally learned to love… but too late. Now he gets to spend the rest of his life in a government facility, pondering how his selfish and cruel behavior lost him a woman who loved him much more than he deserved. The end.

Hah, no. This is an ‘80s romcom! Allen jumps in after Madison and swims out to her, despite not being able to swim and starts to drown, but she saves him while scuba divers hop in after them. She kisses him and now he can breathe under water? They kiss, underwater. Then they fight the scuba divers underwater. Then they swim away, kissing and stuff while some dumb song sings us into the credits. She looks up at him adoringly and they swim to her glowing mermaid city. The end.

So, like I said. Splash is a terrible, misogynistic film about a selfish, controlling jerk who “can’t” fall in love until he meets a beautiful, silent, childish woman with no interest in life beyond shagging his brains out. He flips out when it’s revealed that she’s a magical being who’s willing to give up her entire existence to marry him, but eventually comes to terms with the idea that an inhumanly gorgeous mermaid is utterly devoted to him, and saves her from certain death. They, of course, live happily ever after.

SplashOr this is a profoundly sad meditation on the transient nature of life, and the ephemeral innocence of childhood. Consider: young Allen jumps or falls overboard and drowns. In between first suffocating and his final moments of life, he imagines what adulthood is like: he’s a wildly successful something, and has all the money he’ll ever need. He lives in a hotel: and isn’t that every kid’s dream? To live in a hotel and get room service every night? His brother is exactly the same as an adult as he was as a child – still making jokes about porn, and still looking up skirts. But with a kid’s idea of adulthood overlaying his character: now Freddy drives an awesome car and wears ridiculous clothes and smokes and drinks while playing squash, because that’s what adults do.

But adults get married, so adult Allen must, too. This explains his complete obsession with getting married, immediately. But who will he marry? Who might a ten-year-old boy fantasize that his adult avatar would marry? A mermaid. She’s got all the fun parts of a woman (boobs) without any of the scary bits (a lady-garden). And, of course, her entire life would revolve around him – because, to a ten-year-old, everything is about you.

SplashIndeed, Allen being a projection of his dying child-self explains everything about his personality: all that stuff that’s loathsome in an adult man is, well, par for the course in a ten-year-old. Allen’s selfish, rude, totally self-centered, impulsive, huffy when he doesn’t get what he wants, and easily freaked out by unusual situations.

Why don’t we ever see any sex? Is it because Splash is a PG-rated film? Or because Allen himself doesn’t really understand sex? Sex is that thing that happens between adults, and it’s apparently really important and should be done all the time. But the actual mechanics of the act are beyond young Allen… so they occur off-screen, both literally and metaphorically. We trust that they happened, because they’re supposed to. Because that’s what being a grown-up is all about.

There’s more. There’s a metaphor in young Allen’s hallucination, a symbolic manifestation of his physical decay. As the moment of young Allen’s death approaches (that is, as the film progresses), that manifestation of his body’s failure becomes herself increasingly incapacitated. I’m speaking, of course, about his concussed secretary, whose behavior becomes progressively more erratic over the course of the film. But no one seems to care. Mrs. Stimler is young Allen’s mind’s way of making peace with his inevitable demise.

And why is Splash a romcom? The answer is in the text itself, when Allen chides Madison for crying at a death in Bonanza. Death isn’t a tragedy; it’s a comedy. Laugh, and the world laughs with you, young dying Allen!

SplashEven if you don’t accept that the film is young Allen’s dying delusion, perhaps you’ll accept that it’s still his delusion – that it takes place when he falls out of the dingy and nearly dies as an adult. Why else would he wake up on Bahamian beach, if that obviously not Cape Cod strip of sand isn’t meant to symbolize his passage between life and death? Perhaps Madison, who doesn’t reappear until after that second drowning experience, is now merely the adult manifestation of his childhood near-death hallucination. (I prefer the first interpretation, however, because I’m too icked out by the idea of Madison being an adult male’s “perfect woman” to countenance it. Little boy? Fine? Thirty-year-old man? Yuck.)

In any event, Allen is definitely dead by the end of the film – he leaves behind his brother, his apartment, his business, and his life to hops into the water to swim away with Madison, suggesting his acceptance of death. When he fights off the scuba divers who are trying to capture her he’s fighting off the adults who are trying to rescue a drowning child. The moment adult Allen realizes he can breathe under water can only symbolize the moment of his death. And when Madison takes him by the hand and leads him to the glowing mermaid city, she’s leading him to the afterlife.

Who knew heaven was a mermaid city off the coast of New York?


Monsters: Well, there’s a mermaid. Also, evil scientists. But, obviously, the real monster is Tom Hanks’ crusty anus of a character, if you read the film as nothing more than a forgettable 80s romcom.

Mullets: alas, none. But there is a lot of long, blonde, crimped hair.

Hookers, Victims & Doormats: There are two women with speaking parts in this film, and one is a brain-damaged old lady played for laughs and the other is an childish, love-struck mermaid. Daryl Hannah’s Madison is a submissive, mostly silent, improbably gorgeous, sex-hungry girl-child, and one of the most two-dimensional female characters we’ve yet encountered on M&M. Which is saying a lot. Unless, of course, you accept that she’s supposed to be a two-dimensional caricature of every man’s basest desires, because she’s actually the hallucinatory manifestation of a little boy’s dying mind, meant to ease his transition between life and death.

Doesn’t Anyone Think This Shit Through: Well, I sure did.

Ruining my Childhood by Inches: MERMAIDS are the BEST ZOMG.

M&MCAWP: This movie is either incredible or terrible. Or both. I leave it to you to decide.

I’d like to thank the Twitter hivemind for their after-hours help in figuring out how to express what part Mrs. Stimler plays in Allen’s hallucination.

Next up: Uuuuuu-nee-cooooorn!