And the slew of various fairy tale references were delightful.
1) Contain quality animation and character design.
2) Appeal to children while still remaining entertaining and watchable to adults on an intellectual level.
3) Actually end with some decent morals.
The lesson promoted by this movie is counter to virtually everything bad about Disney movies. I love it.
In the original tale, the little mermaid -does- fall in love with an arbitrary prince and -does- make a deal to transform into a human to pursue this infatuation.
In the original tale, however, she does -not- wind up happily ever after. Walking feels like her feet are being pierced by shards of glass and the prince never pays her notice. She dies alone and miserable... AND her spirit is condemned to roam the earth for some unseemly amount of time (usually 700 years).
Now, I'd like to point out the little mermaid's actions prior to these events. The part of the storyline that Disney does keep in tact is that she betrays her friends, family, and everything she knows for a guy she has seen once and with whom she has never spoken. As a child, I was quite upset with the little mermaid for this I thought the fish were a thousand times niftier than the stock prince. In return for this betrayal, what does she get?
In the original tale, she gets extensive suffering and unhappiness for turning her back on everyone who cares about her. In the Disney tale, she is rewarded for throwing away everything she cares about for an unknown prince. Which moral would you support? Remember to consider use of isolation tactics in domestic violence cases when considering your response.