Why All Dogs Go To Heaven is better than The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid and All Dogs Go To Heaven came out in the same year (Image via Disney/Don Bluth)
The Little Mermaid and All Dogs Go To Heaven came out in the same year (Image via Disney/Don Bluth)

1989 was a magical year of animation and splendor, with All Dogs Go To Heaven and The Little Mermaid being released in theaters. The first film was under the direction of Don Bluth, and the second was from under Bluth’s long-time rival and former employer Disney.

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Many critics have labeled The Little Mermaid as a superior animated film. However, after many years of re-evaluation and valid criticism, it seems that All Dogs Go To Heaven is better.

Given that the former is set to have a live-action remake next year, it is only appropriate to re-evaluate the film compared to its Don Bluth counterpart.

All Dogs Go To Heaven came out the same weekend as The Little Mermaid, and while the latter made a lot more money, Don Bluth’s movie seemed like the more nostalgic of the two, with a sense of timelessness behind it.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the author’s views.


Why All Dogs Go To Heaven is better than The Little Mermaid

Character development is better

All Dogs Go To Heaven was directed by Don Bluth (Image via Don Bluth)
All Dogs Go To Heaven was directed by Don Bluth (Image via Don Bluth)

One thing that has stood out between the two animated films is how the characters progress in their arcs and what they have learned.

In The Little Mermaid, audiences find a young mermaid named Ariel who falls in love with a prince and signs a contract with a devious sea witch. It ends with Ariel winning the prince’s heart and living happily ever after.

All Dogs Go To Heaven took place in the late 1930s in New Orleans. Charlie Barkin and his partner-in-crime Itchy escape prison and come across the villainous Carface, who ends up killing the former.

Charlie somehow finds his way back to Earth, looking to exact his revenge, only to save a little girl named Anne-Marie from being held hostage by Carface.

The films are fundamentally différent in their execution, and the lessons learned are on a différent spectrum. Ariel disobeys her father by going after a prince whom she ends up marrying.

On the other hand, Charlie Barkin was a sly con and grew to have a softer side with Ane-Marie and saved her life at the cost of his own. Barkin’s arc is less bratty and more believable.


It’s more realistic

Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Image via Disney)
Ariel from The Little Mermaid (Image via Disney)

With that being said, in the previous entry, All Dogs Go To Heaven proves to be a film with more realism in its landscape. Understandably, dogs can’t walk or talk, but the setting is 1930s New Orleans rather than a mythical place underneath the sea.

The Bluth film has an organic and plausible plot that never seems to lose its magic along the way. It drenches and surrounds itself with a level of believability that makes the audience think that even if all of the characters were humans, it would be an interesting and practical overtone that still feels more plausible than the Disney mermaid film.


It is more sentimental

Anne-Marie and Charlie Barkin (Image via Don Bluth)
Anne-Marie and Charlie Barkin (Image via Don Bluth)

The best thing about Bluth’s film is that it has way more sentimental value than its Disney counterpart. Given that Charlie’s arc is more compelling, the story proves to have more of a poignant ending and gives Barkin a 180-degree turn in his persona.

The Little Mermaid was a good movie, but it failed to gather a poignant tone other than the princess wanting to be with her prince. Disney’s 1989 film has a less relatable style and fails to become compelling compared to Bluth’s darker dog film.

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Edited by Ravi Iyer
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