Teens make a Splash
Even though everybody loves Raymond (Jake McDorman), the lifeguard, (and no, Ray Romano is nowhere in sight) in Aquamarine, the real story is about the love between two "totally, eternally and completely" best friends, Claire (Emma Roberts) and Hailey (Joanna "Jojo" Levesque).
|Rub a dub dub, fish-girl in tub.|
Claire was orphaned when her parents drowned (she lives with her grandparents). Hailey's father ran off with another woman, leaving Hailey and her marine biologist mother (Claudia Karvan) alone.
Now Hailey's about to abandon Claire—her best friend since she moved from Boston to Florida—because her mother's got a new gig in Australia. She's leaving in a few days but first there are all the end-of-summer events at the beach club and more chances to be ignored by Raymond and dissed by "sand-witch" Cecilia (Arielle Kebbel).
Oh, and there's the mermaid. During a storm a big wave washes up Aquamarine (Sara Paxton), who is taken by Hailey and Claire into their very small circle of friendship. She can walk around in the daytime, according to mermaid rules: "We can only have legs when the sun's out, and we have to keep them dry."
The fact that the girls are sleeping during the storm suggests this may all be a dream, but Aquamarine isn't quite that corny. The makers know even 13-year-olds have seen The Wizard of Oz.
Like all of us, Aquamarine is on a quest for true love, having run—well, swum—from an arranged marriage she'll have to return to if she can't find amor in three days; and she's picked Raymond as the lucky guy who's going to fall for her. If Claire and Hailey help her she has the power to grant them one wish.
Even though Aquamarine's well-met by sunlight it's hard to get something going when each sunset brings a Cinderella-like race to seclusion before her tail grows out again. She still fights with Cecilia over who's going with Raymond to the "Last Splash of Summer," a dance that's presumably at night although it never happens.
The important thing is that everyone learns life lessons. Hailey even teaches one to Aquamarine: "Love is the closest thing we have to magic." The girls also try on a lot of clothes in a typical, tired montage.
Levesque, who plays Hailey, is like, so Lindsay Lohan five years ago. Roberts, as Claire, sets a new screen record by ditching her glasses after one scene and looking cute thereafter. Traditionally the plain girl wears glasses for at least an hour before the leading man removes them and says, "Why Miss Jones, you're—beautiful." In this case they must have cut a Lazik surgery scene.
Paxton will be 18 next month but she looks far too old to be hanging out with 13-year-olds. She also looks older than McDorman (she isn't), at an age when that matters. The actress, who also sings behind the closing credits, is no match for
memories of Daryl Hannah in Splash. Though it's OK for its target audience, Aquamarine hardly deserves mention in the same breath with Splash except they're both in the same genre: half-woman, half-fish out of water comedy.
Steve Warren is a local actor and film reviewer. His reviews can also be seen weekly in the Sunday Paper.
Rating: (2½ out of 4)
Directed by: Elizabeth Allen
Written by: John Quaintance, Jessica Bendinger (based on the novel by Alice Hoffman)
Starring: Emma Roberts, JoJo, Sara Paxton, Jake McDorman, Arielle Kebbel
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