Aquamarine (2006)

It’s hard to really deny that Jojo and Emma Roberts have an interesting chemistry. Had the writers chosen to make “Aquamarine” a down to Earth glimpse at friendship with a mermaid, and turned away from the sickening fluff, there could have been something very emotional and clutching. But in the end, it’s really just a typical on-screen friendship. The girls are bubbly, and boring, and Roberts is your typical geeky character, etc. There’s one interesting sequence in which the two argue and bring about issues that are never confronted in the film. And I sat there wondering why the hell this was never brought up with a lengthier and complex scope. For a film that claims to be about friendship, it’s sad we didn’t see more of the depth available with the two main characters here. Jojo and Roberts’ chemistry is charming to watch, and I didn’t despise watching them yammer back and forth. Meanwhile, I could have done with more scenes featuring Arielle Kebbel as the obligatory bitchy character because… well, Kebbel is gorgeous. Need I say more?

The problem with “Aquamarine” is not so much that it’s a soulless vapid concoction with “Teen People” readers in mind, but in that it’s so utterly void of originality. It rips off “Splash,” Disney’s “Cinderella,” and worst of all Disney’s “Little Mermaid.” You could basically call this a remake sans the admission. A mermaid stuck on land, falls in love with a land dweller and romances him in spite of defiance of her father. Meanwhile, two girls follow her around teaching her how to act human. Sometimes rock bottom sub-level expectations can work for you, and “Aquamarine” isn’t the awful piece of tripe it was deemed as. In a world where “Hoot” and “Sleepover” are on video shelves, this isn’t a bad alternative. But it is bad. There’s no denying that. Had the aforementioned titles never arrived, this would be original. But alas, we live in a world where films are remade officially and unofficially.

But, what’s worst of all is that in the age of cell phones, internet, chat rooms, MySpace, Friendster, text messaging, digital cameras, web cameras, and even letter writing, it’s tough to actually be emotionally involved in two best friends being choked up about moving away from one another. That’s where “Aquamarine” fails most of all. It’s just hard to believe in a digital age that people can’t be as close as they are sitting next to one another, thousands of miles away. Book or not, it’s a plot device that’s really hard to swallow… among the notion that a mermaid can hide in a pool and not be noticed, while Aquamarine pops up one day without either girl’s parents noticing or questioning. The two girls here really serve no purpose beyond the standard set up that they’re hopefully in love with the hunky lifeguard Raymond. Mysteriously, most of his scenes are shot in slow motion, which will lead audiences to believe he’s one of the most sluggish characters on Earth, is a stalwart from “Baywatch,” or perhaps has the power to slow time to save chicks. Beyond that, the two girls are reduced to tag along’s as soon as Aquamarine enters, and oddly enough they don’t matter anymore.

Aquamarine then becomes the center of attention in all her blond leggy glory romancing Raymond and learning the finer things about humanity like… earrings, and shopping… and, magazines. Yow. Obviously, this isn’t a philosophical glance at society, folks. Regardless, the two main characters become girls who scream and aid Aquamarine while their sub-plot is reduced to background fodder. By the middle, some folks will ask “What about their relationship?” Well, it’s confronted, but only as a backdrop to Aquamarine and Raymond’s romance. Thus any grab for impact is lost. “Aquamarine” is just not for people over twelve, but even then it will still be hard pressed to grab fans. Yes, you probably expected a trashing review, but “Aquamarine” is harmless and it’s a good time for the preteen girls who buy into this slop, while the preteen boys will flip for Paxton, Roberts, and or Jojo. I’d never see it again, but I didn’t want to smash my head into my television, either.