Romance between man and mermaid — and the tail of the latter, which gives way to a serviceable pair of legs when dry, will do quite nicely as a symbol for all the unnamed somethings which one partner in a relationship worries that the other won't tolerate. It's a Thorne Smith-ian premise, but without any real feel for fantasy (as the casting of a Miss California Bland — Daryl Hannah -- would indicate). The blasé urbanity in its place is a pleasant enough substitute (the easygoing Tom Hanks is representative there). But all this is undone by the Steven Spielberg-ian finale, with the lovable alien having to elude the coercive forces of the U.S. Government. Who wouldn't trade that entire sequence, from the moment the mermaid is taken captive, for a few more examples of the kind of English language an innocent immigrant might learn from television? With John Candy, Eugene Levy; directed by Ron Howard. (1984) — Duncan Shepherd
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