Day 110: Mermaids – … Yeah, I Never Saw This Film

originally published April 19, 2012

Today’s entry will pay tribute to the Orion Pictures film, Mermaids. This is not because I love the movie (I don’t), or even because I have seen it (I haven’t). The ticket-tearer of fate has granted admission to this particular Wikipedia entry, and so I progress.

How do I make a full entry on a film I haven’t seen? I underestimate me.

We’ll start with the director, Richard Benjamin, who may have gone by the nickname Dick Benjy. He was the third directorial choice. First came Lasse Hallstrom, notable Swedish director and eventual director of the films What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, and – back in 1977 – ABBA: The Movie. I’m sure that last one was downright awful, yet still better than the film re-imagining of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

He clashed with Cher, and she whined at the producer to get rid of him. Frank Oz (or, ‘Yoda’ to his friends) took over, and for some reason he was ousted too. Perhaps he was too short. Cher strikes me as the type of person who would drop a director because of his height.

The first director was Lasse. The third and final director was Benjy. Had Benjy not worked out, no doubt noted director Barry Oldyeller would have been an appropriate replacement.

So Dick Benjy comes in, invited by Cher because he had previously created two of the finest films since the silent era, The Money Pit and My Stepmother Is An Alien. Dick Benjy must have knocked this film right out of the park, as his next project was the Ted Danson / Whoopi Goldberg masterpiece Made In America. And we all know the Whoop doesn’t work with just any director.

Honestly, just look at the crap Dick Benjy spewed out after Mermaids. Does anyone have any recollection of these movies?

That’s right. Something with Melanie Griffith as a hooker, Ricki Lake not being a talk-show host, then two movies I’ve never heard of, both of which feature stars from Friends during the run of the show. Dick Benjy’s career pretty much peaked with Mermaids. To his credit, the guy did have prominent acting roles in at least two respectable movies: Catch-22 and Westworld. But enough about him. He made The Money Pit. Fuck him.

Let’s look at the actors, some of whom might still be netting a paycheck from the six or seven annual rentals this film might be getting from Netflix this year.

Cher, of course, is best known in motion pictures for repeatedly waking up Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Two things I didn’t know about her: her real middle name is Sarkisian, and she starred in a 1969 road-trip movie called Chastity, written by Sonny Bono. Chastity was also her daughter’s name, but the name (as well as the ‘daughter’ thing) didn’t stick.

Bob Hoskins I think we all know for his starring role in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. For those less fortunate, you might remember him from the Super Mario Brothers movie in 1993. If you go way back, before his nameless role as the band manager in Pink Floyd’s The Wall, you’ll see his first role was in Up The Front (1972), a wacky British WWI comedy about a guy who has the ‘German master plan’ tattooed on his ass.

Winona Ryder was 18 when she played the role of 15-year-old Charlotte. This was at the height of her career, following up Beetlejuice and Great Balls of Fire. There has been talk about a revival of her popularity lately after a couple of quality cameos in Star Trek and Black Swan, but what I want to know is why she got a special thanks in the credits of Being John Malkovich.

Christina Ricci made her debut in Mermaids. Stuff I didn’t know about Ms. Ricci: She is 30 years younger than Michael Ironside, to the day. She is good friends with Samuel L. Jackson. She is afraid of houseplants. Her nickname is ‘Squant’. All of these things are, as far as I can tell, true.

Michael Schoeffling, who gets fourth credit on IMDb but has no official picture on the site, appeared in only one movie after this one. He was Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles, and now owns a hand-crafted furniture business in northern Pennsylvania. There is nothing funny about this.

I’m going to skip down to Dossy Peabody, because (a) she has an IMDb picture so she must be somebody important, and (b) her name is Dossy Peabody. Nope, not important – turns out she just submitted a picture to the site. She’s brought a few memorable roles to life ( remember ‘Waitress’ in Turntable? Anyone?), but I’ve lost interest at this point.

I’m now scraping the bottom of my reserves, digging for some way to get to 1000 words about a movie I haven’t seen. How about the screenwriter, June Roberts? She was a writer on a 2001 movie called All The Queen’s Men, starring comedian Eddie Izzard and – Oh Christ – Matt Le Blanc from Friends. Now I’m in six-degrees mode. Gotta link this topic somehow with Schwimmer.

Back to Mermaids. Winona Ryder was nominated for a Golden Globe for best supporting actress, and she won two awards nobody cares about, the National Board of Review in the same category, and best foreign actress at the Spanish Sant Jordi Awards. I’d like to point out I have made no shoplifting jokes about Winona Ryder. I’m doing my best to avoid incredibly re-tread and out-dated material.

So that’s about it. An informative kilograph about a movie I have never seen, and most likely will never see. I’m sure it’s a fine film, but when it was released I remember hoping it was a sequel to Splash, and being rather disappointed when I got a closer look at the poster.

Orion Pictures, a relic from the previous century, is no doubt proud of this film, as I’m sure they are of their other award-“winning” movies: Robocop 2, Navy Seals, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and Phat Beach.

I would highly recommend that everyone go out and rent this movie if there are any rental stores continuing to stretch out their ticking existence in your neighborhood. Or buy the Blu-Ray release, if such a thing has been launched onto shelves. Just don’t invite me over. I really don’t care.

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