Splash (1984)
Splash (1984)

Genre: Fantasy and Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.

Release Date: March 9th, 1984 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Ron Howard Actors: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman, Shecky Greene, Richard B. Shull, Bobby Di Cicco, Howard Morris, Patrick Cronin




t Cape Cod 20 years ago, young Allen Bauer dove off a tour boat into the water to briefly hold hands with a girl just below the surface. It’s a memory that stayed with him all the way to present day, as adult Allen (Tom Hanks) now runs Bauer Produce in New York City – with his irresponsible, reckless brother Freddie (John Candy). Having always been obsessed with the opposite sex, Freddie joyously drives up in his red sports car to announce that his letter has finally been published in Penthouse magazine. With preoccupied Freddie in a managerial position, the family business seems so haphazardly governed that it’s a wonder they’re still operating. Scrambling to solve a cherry crisis, argue with a girlfriend on the verge of leaving him, and manically remember his usher duties in an employee’s wedding that afternoon, Allen also appears to have far too much on his plate.

Drunk and despondent, Allen leaves the reception and takes a cab to Cape Cod – a place that always makes him feel better. When he arrives on the wrong side of the beach, he runs into the aggressive and paranoid Dr. Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy), conducting secretive research. Allen then hires Fat Jack (Al Chesney) to take him to the island, but an accident finds the young man knocked unconscious – and into the water. He’s rescued by a mysterious, naked, blonde woman (Daryl Hannah), who dives back into the ocean, expectedly revealing mermaid characteristics. Later, at the Statue of Liberty, she reappears, donning human legs for a finite period of time – and is promptly arrested for public nudity. As she was carrying Allen’s lost wallet during her apprehension, he’s called to the police station to pick her up. Although he falls madly in love with her without hesitation (she adopts the name “Madison” for convenience), after a few days, he begins to ponder her initial inability to communicate, odd midnight activities, and unexplainable incidents at an electronics store.

Playful, risqué, witty, and representative of quintessential male fantasies (in the vein of “Big” or “Weird Science”), “Splash” exhibits the amusingly lighthearted approach to unexplainable romantic imaginativeness. A distinct reality of overwhelming work and the stressfulness of relationships wears on Allen at the start, but the film quickly digresses to peculiarly nonsensical comedy. An attractive young woman dotes on his every move, wishes to be with him unconditionally, and is enthusiastic about (implied) nonstop sex; yet, worrisomely, her secret mermaid metamorphosis looms, threatening to destroy their utopian union. Tackling the English language through watching television, shopping without restraint as seen in “Pretty Woman” (plus a trip to the lingerie department), taking heavily salted baths, and devouring a lobster (shell and all), lean on betraying her disruptive true identity – while also providing routines for humor.

For additional conflict, there’s a villain involved, designed in a clumsy, comical fashion. But he still poses a problem, on top of the eventual reveal of Madison’s big secret. A spellbinding with finding eternal love as opposed to shorter-lived happiness similarly interferes with the charm, commenting on the unlikelihood of true love in the first place, regardless of brevity. It all leads to governmental scientific meddling, transitioning from “Frankenstein” to “E.T.” through a love story shown from an adventurous, amorous male perspective. Alternating rather abruptly from romance to insincere chaos (rooted in military incompetence) and back again, “Splash” still manages plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and genuine fun, despite even the inconclusive, casually inobservant conclusion.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10