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Splash is a 1984 fantasy film and romantic comedy film directed by Ron Howard and written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The original music score was composed by Lee Holdridge. It was the very first film released by Disney's Touchstone Films (now known as Touchstone Pictures).


As a boy, Allen Bauer, who does not know how to swim, leaps into the water off Cape Codmarker after something only he can see. He is rescued from drowning by a young mermaid, and an instant connection forms between the two. When his parents retrieve him, no one sees the mermaid, who weeps at the loss of her new friend before departing. Allen comes to believe the encounter was a near-death hallucination, but his bond with the mermaid proves so strong that his subsequent relationships with women invariably fail as he subconsciously seeks the connection he felt with the mermaid.

Years later, now co-owner with his womanizing brother Freddie of a wholesale fruit and vegetable business in New York Citymarker, Allen, depressed after his latest breakup, returns to Cape Cod, where he briefly encounters eccentric scientist Dr. Walter Kornbluth, and again falls into the sea. He wakes up on a beach where he encounters a beautiful nude woman who, unknown to him, is the mermaid he met as a boy (she is wearing the same necklace she wore as a girl). He instantly becomes attracted to her, as she again saves him from drowning. But after kissing him, she dives into the sea and leaves Allen to return home. Kornbluth, while diving seeking proof of strange sea creatures, also encounters the mermaid in her sea form, whom he becomes obsessed with finding again.

The mermaid finds Allen's wallet that he dropped in the water and decides to find him in New York. (In one scene that was deleted, the mermaid meets with a sea hag who tells her that she can only stay six days from the sea, but she has to wet her tail every day, which explains the bathtub scene later in the movie. The movie instead clarifies that mermaids become human after they have been dry long enough but return to mermaid form if their bodies are soaked with water.) She comes ashore at Liberty Islandmarker nude, where she is arrested for indecent exposure. The crowd boos at the cops for arresting a beautiful woman just because she is nude. Garnering information from Allen's wallet (which she still carries), the cops call Bauer, who races to the police station. She gets released in Allen's care. After a series of comedic events where the two are unable to control their urges, the mermaid goes out to buy some clothes at Bloomingdales. She later picks up English from watching television all day at Bloomingdale's. Needing a name, Allen lists some choices as they walk. While doing so when on Madison Avenue, he asks himself aloud "Where are we? Madison," which the mermaid picks as her name.

Allen quickly falls in love with Madison, not realizing she is the mermaid he has subconsciously sought a reunion with all his adult life. While Madison requites his love, Allen finds it hard to understand her unusual behavior (for example, eating an entire lobster, shell and all, at a White Housemarker dinner) and has trouble accepting that this relationship might go well. Meanwhile, Kornbluth, realizing that the nude woman at Liberty Island was the mermaid he had encountered, pursues the couple, although neither realize it at first.

When Kornbluth finally proves Madison is a mermaid by dumping water on her and turning her legs into a tail, she is taken in by government scientists for examination. At first jubilant at having proven his belief that mermaids exist, Kornbluth, who had only wanted people to stop thinking he was insane, deeply regrets his actions when Madison is studied like a laboratory specimen and slated for dissection. Meanwhile, Allen, stunned by the revelation, lapses into mortification at having fallen in love with a "fish". "People fall in love every day," he bemoans, "and look what I got." But Freddie finally sets aside the lascivious humor that has typified him throughout the movie to break through Allen's self-absorption: "People fall in love every day, is that what you said? Yeah? Well, that's a crock. It doesn't work that way." Freddie angrily berates Allen for giving up on Madison, with whom he has seen his brother so happy over the past few days. "A lot of people will never be that happy!" Freddie declares. "I'll never be that happy!" Realizing Madison's situation is more important than his mixed emotions, Allen calls various government officials, but no one will arrange for her freedom or even tell him where she is being held.

Desperate, Allen confronts the guilt-ridden Kornbluth, who still has clearance to the lab where Madison is imprisoned. Impersonating two Swedish scientists, the brothers enter the lab with Kornbluth, then Allen and Kornbluth emerge with a figure concealed in blankets, claiming it to be the scientist impersonated by Freddie, who was attacked by "the creature," who is now too dangerous to approach; the panicking security guard closes off the lab until the head scientist arrives to receive a cheerful greeting from Freddie, who had remained in the lab while Allen and Kornbluth smuggled Madison outside in the blankets. After a pursuit through the streets of the city, she jumps back into the ocean. When she reveals that Allen can survive under water as long as he is with her, Allen realizes she was the young mermaid he had met so long before, and although Madison warns him that if he comes to live in the sea, he will be unable to return to the surface world (she does not specify why), they both continue their lives in what appears to be an underwater kingdom.

Main cast


Screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel both make cameo appearances in the film. Ganz plays Stan, the tour guide, in the scene set at the Statue of Liberty. Mandel plays the man in charge of ice skate rentals who tackles Tom Hanks' character when he tries to run out with his skates still on. Ron Howard's father, actor Rance Howard, can be seen early in the film, screaming at Hank's character about "his cherries". Howard's brother, Clint Howard, can be seen as a wedding guest, identified by Candy's character as the bride's brother and yelled at by Hanks.


  • A sequel, Splash, Too (directed by Greg Antonacci), appeared in 1988 as a TV movie (contradicting the first movie's finale revelation that if Allen goes to live in the sea, he can never return). Only one member of the original cast, Dody Goodman (the Bauers' slightly deranged assistant Mrs. Stimler), reprises her role.
  • A novelization of the film, written by Ian Marter (under the pen name Ian Don), was published by Target Books in the United Kingdommarker.
  • A Hong Kong film, Mermaid Got Married, was made in 1994. The story is similar to Splash in that the main character is saved by a mermaid as a child and is later saved by her again when they are older.
  • Excited about their big hit movie, the studio executives at Disney wanted the Imagineers to put Madison the mermaid into Disneylandmarker's upcoming "Zip-a-Dee River Run" attraction. The Imagineers refused to do it, because the movie's theme didn't fit with the attraction's Song of the South story. However, the executives partly got their way, changing the name of the attraction to "Splash Mountainmarker".


According to the documentary on the Splash: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD in 2004, producer Brian Grazer had pitched the film to numerous studios but was turned down repeatedly until The Walt Disney Company, then headed by Ron Miller, agreed to produce the film. An issue at the time of production was the competition between Splash and another announced mermaid film that had lined up Warren Beatty as its star. Director Ron Howard promised the studio that Splash would be filmed quicker and cheaper than the other film, which eventually fell through.

Many big name Hollywood stars were considered for the male lead such as Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Bill Murray, Christopher Reeve, Mickey Rourke, and John Travolta before going to the relative lesser known at the time Tom Hanks.

The film's content (including some language and brief nudity), which was deemed inappropriate for a Disney film at the time, led to the creation of the Touchstone Pictures label, which would release films targeted towards older audiences. Splash was the first film to be released by the new label.


The beach where Tom Hanks first encounters the nude Daryl Hannah is on the former Gorda Cay in the Bahamasmarker. It is now Castaway Caymarker, the private island paradise of the Disney Cruise Line.


The mermaid tail which Daryl Hannah wore was manufactured by Robert Short Productions. It is fully functional: Hannah swam with the mermaid tail so fast that her safety team could not keep pace with her. According to the DVD documentary, Hannah had been swimming "mermaid" style with her legs bound together since she was a child, due to her fascination with Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid story.


The movie was a huge success: made with a USD $8 million budget, the movie grossed $6,174,059 on its opening weekend and ended up grossing $69,821,334 in the U.S. alone.

Impact on popular culture

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's 2006 book Freakonomics credits the film with popularizing the name "Madison" for girls, as does Steven Pinker's 2007 The Stuff of Thought. In the film, Daryl Hannah's character takes her name from Madison Avenue after walking past a road sign. Hanks' character comments that it is not a real name as, at the time, it was a rather unusual name for a woman. However, in the years since the film was released in theatres and re-released on VHS and then DVD, the name's popularity has skyrocketed.

According to the Social Security Administration, the name "Madison" was the 216th most popular name in the United Statesmarker for girls in 1990, the 29th most popular name for girls in 1995, and the 3rd most popular name for girls in 2000 [43234]. In 2005, the name finally cracked the top 50 most popular girls' names in the United Kingdommarker, and articles in British newspapers credit the film for the popularization.

Butch Hartman once credited the Eugene Levy character as the inspiration for his character of Denzel Crocker on The Fairly Oddparents. Both characters are obsessed with a certain legendary creature and spend their free time trying to prove that such creatures exist. In both cases, the characters have practically no social life and various enemies.

In Tom Green's 2001 film Freddy Got Fingered, when Gord showing his cartoon "Zebras in America" to the head of the cartoon studio in an attempt to shop the drawings, he compares the cartoon to Splash calling it "A fish out of water story".

Soundtrack Releases

An official fourteen track soundtrack for the film was released on both Vinyl LP and Cassette in the UK by Cherry Lane Records Ltd in 1984. Both have been out of print for many years. The catalogue numbers for these releases were PIPLP 710 and ZCPIP 710 respectively. More recently the soundtrack has been released on a twenty six track CD in the U.S. by Super Tracks Music Group. The back cover states that this product is "For Promotional Use Only" and that it has been "Manufactured for the composer...". Although this release is very hard to find brand new and may in fact be out of print, it is still obtainable from certain movie soundtrack specialist retailers and also occasionally used from certain online stores. This CD has every track that the LP and cassette have but has a considerably longer running length due to the twelve extra tracks. These extra tracks include more of the original music from the film, the theme song sung by Rita Coolidge and alternate versions of some of the tracks which appear on the LP and Cassette. The catalogue number for this release is LH CD - 02.

See also


  1. Box office / business for Splash from IMDb

External links

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