Back in 2004, ‘Splash’ celebrated its 20th anniversary with a brand-new DVD release. You probably didn’t know that a Blu-ray version of that release hit the market in 2013. For whatever reason, Disney decided to offer it only in Australia for Region B customers (even though the disc is, in fact, region-free). Is the Blu-ray worth the import?
Theatrical Release Date: March 9, 1984
Blu-ray Release Date (Region B, Australia): March 27, 2013
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Forrest Gump, Del Griffith, Pris, and pie f**ker’s father.
Budget: $8 million ($19 million in 2017 dollars)
Box Office Gross Worldwide: $69 million ($164 million in 2017 dollars)
The Plot in a Sentence
Best summed up with a line of dialogue by the main character: “All my life I’ve been waiting for someone and when I find her, she’s a fish.”
Best Reason to Watch
Although clearly a comedy, this was probably the first movie Tom Hanks did where it was clear he could tackle dramatic bits quite well. It was also his first major success on the big screen.
Worst Reason to Watch
Even by 1984 standards, Dr. Kornbluth’s (Eugene Levy) obsession with proving that Madison is a mermaid tends to sidetrack the film. It’s needed for the third act’s big escape scene (which seems reminiscent of the final scenes of ‘E.T.’), but turns the last bit of the movie from a romantic comedy into an action-adventure.
The movie makes a joke out of Madison (Daryl Hannah) picking her name off a street sign in New York City. The joke doesn’t work today the way it did in 1984, since Madison has become quite a popular name for girls. Prior to 1984, that given first name was all but non-existent.
‘Splash’ was rushed into production by Disney to make it onto the silver screen before a competing mermaid movie that was to be made by Warren Beatty. The Beatty movie was eventually scrapped.
Hard to Believe…
Disney was quite concerned that the partial nudity and mild profanity in ‘Splash’ would ruin its reputation as a family friendly studio. Therefore, ‘Splash’ was the very first film to be released under Disney’s Touchstone Films (later renamed Touchstone Pictures) label. It’s still Disney, though. Touchstone wasn’t, and still isn’t, a distinct movie company.
Madison’s voice causing the explosion of a wall of TV sets in a store when she tells Allen (Tom Hanks) the pronunciation of her real name.
John Candy (who plays Allen’s brother, Freddie) dropping change on the ground to look up women’s skirts. It’s something the character did as a kid that he still does in adulthood. Creepy in 1984. Really creepy in 2017.
Let’s Get Together… Again.
Stars Tom Hanks and John Candy would reunite the very next year to shoot ‘Volunteers’. Sadly, that one’s nowhere near as good as ‘Splash’. The two comedians would never appear in a movie together again. (Candy died in 1994.)
Best Line(s) in ‘Splash’
“I’ll be back with the little boat.”
“The little boat?!”
Clint Howard Sighting
Yes, that’s Ron Howard’s younger brother Clint getting yelled at by Hanks during his “anywhere but the first three rows” rant at a wedding early in the movie.
Sequels and Reboots
Deservedly forgotten is a made-for-TV sequel titled ‘Splash, Too’ in which most of the characters but none of the actors returned. The movie starred Amy Yasbeck as Madison. It has never been released on home video in the United States (though it was in the UK and Australia). You can find it on YouTube.
Last year, it was announced that a reboot of ‘Splash’ was being planned by Disney and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The twist is that this time around the mermaid will be a merman. Channing Tatum and Jillian Bell are currently attached to star.
Blu-ray A/V Pluses and Minuses
Sadly, ‘Splash’ is the victim of DNR overdose on Blu-ray, eliminating a lot of grain and losing a lot of detail in the process. The audio fares much better with a pleasant (though still far from immersive) English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track.
Best Thing About the Blu-ray
A 2003 commentary track (ported over from the DVD release) with Director Ron Howard, in which he tells all about the movie’s history and has some great behind-the-scenes tales about working with the actors.
Worth Picking Up?
Absolutely, if you can track a copy down and don’t mind paying a few extra bucks to import it. Yes, there’s always a chance that Disney will decide to provide a Region A release for the film’s 35th anniversary in 2019, but that seems highly unlikely. If a Blu-ray ever does get released in North America, chances are very good it will be the exact same disc we see here, so why wait and risk this one going out of print?