Sunday, April 21, 2013

Aquamarine (2006)

Directed by Elizabeth Allen (1)

Cast: Emma Roberts (2), JoJo (3), Sara Paxton (4), Jake McDorman (5), Arielle Kebbel (6), and Dichen Lachman (7)

My favourite quotes - "Why go through life unnoticed?", "I don't think they would have wanted you to be afraid of life, I think they'd want you to be friends with it.", "Who needs Raymond? I found 2 new men to love, their names are Ben and Jerry. Raymond... Who needs Raymond?", & "I've been to lots of places. But I've learned it's not where you are, it's who you're with."

Did You Know? - Aquamarine is based on a novel of the same name written by Alice Hoffman. Alice Hoffman has also written the novel the film Practical Magic was based on and wrote the screenplay of Independence Day. JoJo is a singer who's real name is Joanna Levesque. Sara Paxton would go on to do another fairytale inspired film the year after Aquamarine was released titled Sydney White.

Blink & Miss It - Dichen Lachman has a blink and miss it part in Aquamarine as one of Arielle Kebbel's sidekick. 

Disney's The Little Mermaid is by far my favourite Disney fairy tale growing up. There's just something about Ariel's lust for life and ardent belief in true love that I adore. Perhaps growing up watching all those happily ever after Disney fairy tales is why I have an overly idealistic view on love and romance. 

While Aquamarine is not the first feature film adaptation of The Little Mermaid fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson (See the post The Fairytale Reboot: Tales Come Alive), it is definitely the most updated version of the tale. And it does a good job of keeping with the times. The original Danish fairytale was given a bonafide Hollywood-teenage-film makeover and the result is Aquamarine.

Aquamarine: I have to find love. We don't have it where I'm from. And if I can't find it in 3 days I'm sunk.
Claire: You don't have love?
Aquamarine: No. My dad says its just a myth. We marry who our parents pick. And my dad thinks I have bubbles in my brain because I believe in love. He says that the only way I can get out my wedding is if I can prove to him that love exists. But that means I only get 3 days. Or else I'll be swimming down the aisle with that... that blowfish. 
Hailey: But if you don't have love, how do you know it exists? 
Aquamarine: I saw it once. And I want it. With him.
Hailey: Raymond?
Claire: Raymond!
Aquamarine: Raymond...

Besides being set in modern times, Aquamarine also takes a more down to earth approach to the idea of love.

Aquamarine: You know what I think of love? Love stinks. No wonder we don't have it back home.
Hailey: Please don't give up yet.
Aquamarine: Why because of your wish?
Hailey: Let me tell you something. My dad said he loved me. He said he loved my mother and then he left us. He left us for some other woman. But I guess that's just the way it is. And love doesn't always work.
Aquamarine: I don't understand.
Hailey: That's life. That's how it is here. But when you find love I guess it's really beautiful, or at least that's what I read in magazines, and I don't know as much about it as I say I do but I know that there's a reason why everybody wants it so much.
Aquamarine: And what's that?
Hailey: It's the closest thing we have to magic. Don't give up yet. 
Aquamarine: Oh my God. What's happening to me? I'm leaking!
Hailey: Aqua, you're crying.
Aquamarine: I'm leaking saltwater. I'm falling apart.
Hailey: No they're tears. You body makes them when you cry. I guess you wouldn't have them living under water. 

But I like that while they recognise that "love doesn't always work", it's still something you should fight for and keep hoping for because "it's the closest thing we have to magic". I like that exchange between JoJo's Hailey Rogers and Aquamarine. Through Aquamarine, we are taught about the true nature of love and how love isn't always enough but still something worth having.  

Aquamarine: Raymond, do you love me?
Raymond: Well, I mean, we've had 1 date. But don't get me wrong. I like you, I really really like you. I think you're smart and beautiful and different than anyone I've ever met before. And I'd like to see a lot more of you.
Aquamarine: But you don't love me.
Raymond: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. Hey, are you crying?
Aquamarine: Yes. Apparently it's something I do.
Raymond: I don't understand. I mean why do I have to be in love with you today? Why can't we just work our way there?

I think the words 'I love you' are too carelessly used these days. People say it without truly understanding what the phrase is actually meant to convey. That is why I like that Aquamarine has tried to be more realistic in terms of the whole 'love at first sight' thing. The way Sara Paxton's Aquamarine goes from a giggly love crazed mermaid to become a mature mermaid with a good head on her shoulders sits better with me. There's enough fantasy to swallow in having a mermaid turn up in real life, it would be hard to believe she is able to get her Prince Charming to fall in love with her in 3 days! And say 'I love you' as well. 

I mean "love is just love" (See post on the film The Wedding Planner). Relationships require a lot of work. And if you just rely on the feelings of love, well sometimes, love just ain't enough.

But love comes in many forms. Love between friends, and of course love between family members. While our family members more often than not will drive us up the wall, at the end of the day, your family loves you. 

Raymond: So urm... how long are you in town?
Aquamarine: 2 more days. Then my dad's making me come home. If he doesn't get his way it's always a huge disaster.
Raymond: Ahh... pretty controlling huh?
Aquamarine: You have no idea.
Raymond: Yeah I do. My dad, he's all dead set on me starting college next week but... I don't know... I want to take a year off to travel. I've never been out of Florida. So we've been arguing it all summer. And he'll probably win the argument, he always does.
Aquamarine: They just don't get it do they. Sometimes you have to leave home to figure out what you want. 

Do parents really know what you need? (See the post on the film Because I Said So) I guess their life experiences make them sort of an expert doesn't it? But still, it's my life. And I'd rather make my own mistakes and learn from them than to regret later. But then again, my parents wanted me to go to Australia for further studies after junior college and I told them no. 

"Why go through life unnoticed?"
- Aquamarine

You see, my friends were in Singapore. Australia seemed so far away, and it felt scary to be on my own. I was too happy in my comfort zone and I didn't dare to go into the unknown. Grand adventures were not on my to do list then. 

"I don't think they would have wanted you to be afraid of life, I think they'd want you to be friends with it."
- Aquamarine

4 years later, after I finished my polytechnic diploma, I eventually did go to Australia to further my studies. I was still afraid of trying new things. But my fear were not comparable to my need to run away from Singapore and to start a new chapter of my life away from the things that hurt me and reminded me of the hurt. So I went. And I have never regretted leaving for Australia.

So maybe parents do know what's best for you. If I had listened to them, things may be entirely different for me now. But, it's not something I regret at all - going later rather than sooner, because there's a lot of things right with my life that I wouldn't want to change it for fear of messing it all up. If I went back in time and changed anything, I wouldn't have gotten to know any of the 'jiemeis', I might not be in the media industry, and I wouldn't know any of my awesome colleagues who have become my family and friends. And who knows what else I might have missed! And all the wonderful people I wouldn't have gotten to meet.

Aquamarine: I can't believe you two, it's not safe out here. The storm's too strong.
Claire: Why is your dad pulling you back now?
Hailey: He can't just take you away.
Aquamarine: Yes he can. That was our deal.
Hailey: Take our wish. And you can stay here.
Aquamarine: I can't.
Clarie: Yeah. Take it. And you can call off your wedding.
Aquamarine: But there's no wish. 
Hailey: What?
Aquamarine: Raymond doesn't love me. My father was right. I couldn't prove love exists. 
Hailey: Can't we do something? 
Claire: Yeah. Anything.
Aquamarine: What more could you do for me? You jumped in the water to save me, and now you give me your wish? Why would you do that for me?
Claire: I... I don't know, I guess it's what I would do for her and I know she'd do it for me and just because we love you Aqua. 
Aquamarine: You do? 
(Hailey nods her head in agreement)
Aquamarine: I didn't know you leak when you're happy too. 
Hailey: Look. Your dad's letting you go.
Aquamarine: Because of you. 
Hailey: What?
Aquamarine: Don't you see? You just proved to him, that love exists. I guess you get a wish after all. Any requests?
Claire: Can we wish for you to stay here forever?
Aquamarine: I'm a mermaid Claire. I have a family that needs me. As much as I want to stay, I belong in the ocean, most of the time. Save your wish okay. I promise I'll come back to visit. And if I have to swim against the Gulf stream from here to Australia, I'll do it. I'd circle the world for you two. 
Hailey: So I guess this is it right?
Aquamarine: Someone's gotta go back and return all those wedding gifts.
Claire: We'll miss you Aqua.
Aquamarine: You can always call me on my my shell. Oh... I want you guys to have these.
Claire: Thanks.
Aquamarine: Starfish may be big suck ups, but they never lie.
Claire: Aqua...
Aquamarine: I love you guys too.
Raymond: Aqua... Aqua!
Aquamarine: Oh my God.
Hailey: Keep in touch fish butt.
Claire: We want a full report.
Aquamarine: I'll see you soon.
Claire: Bye.
Hailey: Bye.
Aquamarine: Bye.

Aquamarine borrows the premise of The Little Mermaid, but really it's a film about love. Love between a man and a woman, love between parents and their children, and of course love between friends. 

Maybe its the fact that I'm almost over 30. But Aquamarine wasn't a big hit with me. While I appreciate the changes made to the original tale, and I really think the modernisation of the classic fairytale was really tastefully done, I think the teeny bopper type of film doesn't interest me anymore. The cliche hot surfer dude as 'Prince Charming' and the typical selfish one-dimensional attention seeking bitch (oops I mean 'witch') that gets her just desserts is also way too predictable to enjoy. 

That being said, I think Arielle Kebbel did a very good job playing the bitchy, rich, and self absorbed Cecilia. It was after I saw her performance in the television series The Vampire Diaries as Lexi that I realised this though. And sadly, it seems she has been typecast in such roles. 

Emma Roberts and JoJo both did a decent job in Aquamarine and didn't make me cringe at all. And Sara Paxton's bordering-on-ditsy turn as Aquamarine was also quite good. She was able to deliver cheesy lines without making it seem too over the top and lame. Overall, Aquamarine is a typical feel-good film about life, love, friendships, and family.

(1) Elizabeth Allen also directed the film Ramona and Beezus (2010) as well as episodes of television shows like 90210, The Vampies Diaries, Life Unexpected, and Gossip Girl. 

(2) Emma Roberts has acted in films like Blow (2001), Nancy Drew (2007), Wild Child (2008), Hotel For Dogs (2009), Lymelife (2009), Valentine's Day (2010), Twelve (2010), Memoirs Of A Teenage Amnesiac (2010), It's Kind Of A Funny Story (2010), Scream 4 (2011), The Art Of Getting By (2011), Celeste And Jesse Forever (2012), Adult World (2013), and Empire State (2013). 

(3) JoJo is a singer who has also acted in the film RV (2006). She also guest starred in television shows like Kids Say The Darnest Things, The Bernie Mac Show, American Dreams, and Hawaii Five-0. 

(4) Sara Paxton has acted in films like Liar Liar (1997) and Sydney White (2007). She has also guest starred in television shows like Lizzie McGuire, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Malcolm In The Middle, Will & Grace, Wizards Of Waverly Place, and Guys With Kids.

(5) Jake McDorman is known for playing the role of Evan Chambers in the television series Greek (2007-2011). He has also guest starred in shows like House, CSI: Miami, Cold Case, and The Newsroom. He has also acted in films like Bring It On: All Or Nothing (2006), Live Free Or Die Hard (2007).

(6) Arielle Kebbel has acted in films like American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005), Dirty Deeds (2005), John Tucker Must Die (2006), Vampires Suck! (2010), and Think Like A Man (2012). She has also guest starred in shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Gilmore Girls, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Entourage, CSI: Miami, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Life Unexpected, 90210, and Hawaii Five-0. 

(7) Dichen Lachman played the role of Suren in the television series Being Human 2012) and was a series regular on television shows like Neighbours (2005-2007), Dollhouse (2009-2010), and Last Resort (2012). She also guest starred in shows like NCIS: Los Angeles and Hawaii Five-0. 

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks.... Aquamarine is a film that will attract the attention of young teenage girls but isn't really my cup of tea. However, I do like the modernisation of The Little Mermaid fairytale and it is a film that still manages to put across a few messages that I think are quite important. It is a film that reminds me to live, love, and be grateful for the friends who don't need me to be present 24/7 and can accept my friendship despite my inability to spend a lot of time with them. (2.5 of 5)

* Movie Poster from Wikipedia

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