ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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Return to the Sea
(2000), (G)
CAP Score: 80
CAP Influence Density: 0.37

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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: We make no scoring allowances for Hollywood's trumped-up "messages" to excuse, or its manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth. If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objective and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie

"There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." [Emphasis is mine] And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." Read the rest of the story. From our five-year study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.


*THE LITTLE MERMAID II: Return to the Sea* (G) -- a middle-of-the-road PG.

There was as much adolescent rebellion and arrogance against parental authority in this Disney flick for the magnitude or total envelope of them to be numerically equivalent to the rebellion and arrogance in R-rated movies of 1995/6. But the rest of the programming was numerically equivalent to G and PG movies of the same period, yielding an overall package score of 80 -- a middle-of-the-road PG.

If there is a message to this Disney flick, it is to the preteen and early teen to go for what s/he wants with parental rules and authority being insignificant and parents themselves being in the way when not serving their only purpose in life, i.e., providing for food, shelter, clothing, money... This is a common expectation of kids that age -- God told us about it in Prov. 22:15 -- but to promote and indeed glorify it especially in the name of entertainment is harmful to the child him/herself by quite probably emboldening his/her resistance to correction and discipline: by emboldening the "I just don't care what you do [to me]" mechanism of passive aggressive defiance. Indeed, such influence makes teaching our kids real world reality hard [Heb. 13:17]. Common sentiments expressed by the central adolescent character of this film include "I wish I could tell my mom how I feel, but she'd never understand. I can talk to crabs but not to her." [Luke 18:20]

Assessment of the influence of animated features for the potential of them to foster copycat behavior in humans is most difficult except when the portrayed behaviors can be duplicated by a human -- behaviors such as attitude (especially attitude), jumping off a cliff, fighting, pulling a trigger, or choice of words. Behavior which cannot be duplicated by a human child even by the most extreme stretch of the imagination such as rays from a trident miniaturizing a shark is relatively innocuous and is for the most part ignored by the CAP analysis model unless such portrayal is for evil or sinister purposes. But when the fantasy barrier is threatened by influencing the cognitive and perceptive domains with selective manipulations of the immensely powerful influence of language and the sometimes equally powerful influence of music, sound effects and special imagery, influence on thought and thus choice of behavior patterns (coping skills) of at least some of the observers is inevitable, especially if the emotions of the observer happen to resonate with the emotions portrayed onscreen. This is a nutshell rationale behind our analysis of this and other animated features.

The movie opens with Ariel singing to her infant Melody in preparation to sail to present Melody to her grandfather Tritan, king of the merpeople of Atlantica, the city beneath the waves. All of Atlantica sing in celebration of Melody. King Tritan gives Melody a gift of a pendant which, when opened, projects an orb image of Atlantica as a reminder of her heritage. During the celebration activities, the sea witch Morganna, sister of Ursula from the first *Little Mermaid*, abducts Melody and threatens to feed Melody to her familiar Undertow [Lev. 19:31], a giant shark, if King Tritan does not surrender his trident to her. Once thwarted by some heroic maneuvers by both Eric (now Melody's father) and Ariel, Morganna threatens to get Tritan's trident any way she can no matter how long it takes, even through Melody. To protect Melody from Morganna, Eric and Ariel decide that Melody should not know her heritage and should not enter the sea. Broken-hearted but understanding, King Tritan drops Melody's pendant into the ocean in painful submission. To help ensure protection of Melody, Eric and Ariel erect a sea wall around their castle home and lay strict rules that Melody is to never go beyond the sea wall.

Twelve years later we see Melody dive swimming in the ocean -- beyond the sea wall -- with "truant officer" Sebastian reminding Melody of the rule against swimming beyond the sea wall. But Melody bleats in defiance of the rules "Oh, Sebastian. I can help it! I just love the sea!." [James 3:16]

Amongst the "message" programming, Morganna practices a little witchcraft [Deut. 18:10] to try to restore Undertow to his normal size. But upon failure of Morganna to restore him, Undertow mumbles "Ursula could have done it." And amidst an explosion of attitude, Morganna retaliates by blaming her mother, of course: "Stop criticizing me!. That's all my mother ever did was criticize me ... It was always 'Ursula this' and 'Ursula that' or 'Morganna, why can't you be more like your sister Ursula." And through this self-pity party, Morganna, as in much of the show, shows much more of herself than should be seen in polite circles, just like Ursula did.

And that fairly well paints the picture for the rest of the show. Common script in the show included "My [mother] just doesn't understand" when the adolescent can't get her way, the witch saying "Well, I'm sure she didn't mean to be so cruel and deceitful" to Melody about her mother, and a scared "toddler" son of Flounder who swims away in fear screaming "DADDY!" with Flounder replying 'What now?" with disgust on his voice. A chief subplot reveals well the possible dangers of this Disney flick to the target adolescent audience and their perception of rightful parental authority and position of parent in the family:

[As Melody approaches Ursula with King Tritan's trident]
Ursula to Melody: "Oh, THERE you are, darling. I was so worried about you. And look! You've brought back my trident." with melodic flips in her voice.

[As Ariel approaches seconds later while Melody continues to approach Ursula]
Ariel to Melody: "Melody! Don't! Don't listen to her..." with a pause as they both realize they are now mermaids.

Ursula to Melody: "Sweetheart, hand me my trident now!"

Melody to Ariel (to mom): "All this time. And you never told me?"

Ursula to Melody about Ariel: "Kept the most important secret in her whole life from her own daughter?"

Ariel to Melody: "Please! Give it to me, Melody."

Ursula to Melody: "No!. Hand it to me! It's for your own good." (Ursula had promised to make Melody's change to a mermaid permanent with the trident.)

Ariel to Melody: "She's lying."

Ursula to Melody: "I'm the one who's given you what you always wanted. SheeEEEee's [Ariel] the one who lied to you all these years!"

Ariel to Melody: "I was trying to protect you!"

Melody to Ariel (mom): "By fencing me in? You knew how much I loved the sea. Why did you keep the truth from me?"

Ariel to Melody: "Melody! Listen to me. If there is one thing in my life I could do over ..." as Melody turns her back on her mother in favor of the witch.

Melody to Ariel (mom) while now within an arm's length of Ursula: "Too late, mom."

After handing the trident to Ursula, the rest of the subplot is spent on how sorry Melody was sorry for such rebellion [Is. 30:1], with a large helping of "not my fault" spices thrown in ... just to maintain face, of course. A classic example of the syndrome "Go ahead and do the wrong thing if that is what is important to you as long as you are sorry for it afterwards."

And all this is set amidst bright and shiny choreography, pleasant characters, and intricate writing, delicately painting the child rebellion as righteous, justified, honorable and entirely acceptable. And in at least one case, animated explosive adolescent arrogance against a parent was "necessary" to bring about trust. [Prov. 6:20]


  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Prov. 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Prov. 23:13-14 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. NOTE: "Beat" is "nakah" (naw-kaw') in Hebrew which includes "chastise", "send judgment upon" and "punish" in its definition. And "rod of correction" refers to the staff of the Shepherd which is never used to injure. For more on the "rod of correction" visit our "Spare the Rod - Spoil the Child: A Parental Perspective" at if you have the time -- it's a long one.
  • Heb. 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
  • Luke 18:20 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'
  • James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • Deut. 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
  • Lev. 19:31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
  • Is. 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
  • Prov. 6:20 My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    FINDINGS / SCORING: THE LITTLE MERMAID II: Return to the Sea (YEAR) CAP Thermometers

    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • attack with a meat cleaver
  • theft
  • imprisonment to kill

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • disobedience with disregard of personal safety or the safety of others
  • "How could there be anything wrong with something so wonderful."
  • "I wish I could tell my mom how I feel, but she'd never understand. I can talk to crabs but not to her."
  • sneaking back into the house
  • "Mother! What are you doing? -- Nothing." to hide behavior
  • running away when mom calls.
  • child arrogance against parent
  • animated explosive adolescent arrogance against a parent
  • arrogance against a parent as "necessary" to bring about trust
  • a child running away to "find out for myself"
  • "I don't deserve to live"
  • going to smooth-sounding stranger for answers "because my mother won't tell me"
  • being dissatisfied with the self

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • dress/exposure not acceptable in polite crowds

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • evil presence/threats
  • portrayal of evil having the power to control weather (to bring about storms/overcast)
  • examples of witchcraft/magic used for evil purposes
  • evil symbolism

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

  • (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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