Splash is a 1984 American fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Ron Howard, written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Dody Goodman. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The original music score was composed by Lee Holdridge.
The film is notable for being the first film released by the Walt Disney Studios' Touchstone Pictures label, which had been created that same year in an effort to release films targeted at adult audiences, with mature content not appropriate for the studio's flagship Walt Disney Pictures banner. Splash had received a PG-rating for including some profanity and brief nudity.
As an eight-year-old boy, Allen Bauer (David Kreps) is vacationing with his family near Cape Cod. While taking a sight-seeing tour on a small boat, he gazes into the ocean and sees something below the surface that fascinates him, while his older brother Freddie Bauer is walking around the boat fascinated by the women. Allen jumps into the water, even though he cannot swim. He grasps the hands of a girl who is inexplicably under the water with him and an instant connection forms between the two. Allen can now breathe under water as he is in the hands of a mermaid. However, Allen is pulled to the surface by the deck hands and the two are separated, though apparently no one else sees the girl. After the ferry moves off, Allen looks back at the girl, who dives underwater showing her mermaid's tail. 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 fail as he seeks the connection he felt with the mermaid.
Years later, Allen (Tom Hanks) is a co-owner of a wholesale fruit and vegetable business in New York City with his womanizing older brother Freddie (John Candy). Depressed after his latest breakup, Allen returns to Cape Cod, where he encounters eccentric scientist Dr. Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy) and again falls into the sea. He wakes up on a beach with a headache where he encounters a beautiful naked woman with long blonde hair, a necklace with a lion medal, and the inability to talk (Daryl Hannah) who, unknown to him, is the mermaid he met as a boy (her tail transforms into legs when it becomes dry). After kissing him, she dives into the sea and leaves Allen to return home. Kornbluth, while diving in order to seek proof of strange sea creatures, also encounters the mermaid in her sea form, causing him to become obsessed with finding her again.
The mermaid finds Allen's wallet in the water and goes to a sunken boat where she finds a map. Using Allen's wallet to find where he is from, she then decides to find him in New York. She comes ashore naked at the Statue of Liberty, where she is arrested for indecent exposure. Using information from Allen's wallet, the mermaid gets released into his care. She learns how to speak English from watching television, and says her name is a high-pitched chirp sound in the language of mermaids. She's eager to see a big city for the first time in her life, and she chooses the name Madison from a Madison Avenue sign. She tells Allen that she will be in New York for "six fun-filled days when the moon is full" and if she stays longer, she can never go home again (the reason for this is unexplained). Despite Madison's occasional unusual behavior, she and Allen fall in love. Allen proposes to Madison, but she declines and runs away. After pondering her reason for coming to the city in the first place, Madison returns to Allen and agrees to marry him, with the added promise of telling him the truth about herself at an upcoming dignitary dinner to welcome the President of the United States.
Meanwhile, Kornbluth, realizing that the naked woman at Liberty Island was the mermaid he had encountered, pursues the couple trying to expose her as a mermaid by splashing her with water. Many attempts are unsuccessful, and Kornbluth ends up with multiple injuries including a badly broken arm and whiplash. When he is finally successful at the dignitary dinner, the exposed mermaid is taken in by government scientists led by Kornbluth's cold-hearted former colleague and rival Dr. Ross (Richard B. Shull) for examination. However, Kornbluth regrets his actions after he learns that Madison is due to be studied and dissected, as he just wanted to prove that he wasn't crazy.
Allen is shocked by Madison's secret and when he denies his love for her, Freddie lashes out at him, telling his brother how happy he was with her. Allen confronts a guilt-ridden Kornbluth, who agrees to help him.
Impersonating Swedish scientists, Freddie and Allen enter the lab with Kornbluth and smuggle Madison outside. Madison makes it back to the ocean and tells Allen that he can survive under water as long as he is with her. Allen realizes she was the young mermaid he had met so long before. The United States military arrive to recapture her, ignoring Allen's demands to let her be free. Although Madison warns him that if he comes to live in the sea he can't return, he jumps into the water and they elude their pursuers. Together they swim along the ocean floor toward what appears to be an underwater kingdom.
- Tom Hanks as Allen Bauer
- Daryl Hannah as Madison
- John Candy as Freddie Bauer
- Eugene Levy as Dr. Walter Kornbluth
- Dody Goodman as Mrs. Stimler
- Richard B. Shull as Dr. Ross
- Shecky Greene as Mr. Buyrite
- Bobby Di Cicco as Jerry
- Howard Morris as Dr. Zidell
- Patrick Cronin as Michaelson
- Jeff Doucette as Junior
- Royce D. Applegate as Buckwalter
- Tony Longo as Augie
- Nora Denney as Mrs. Stein
- Joe Grifasi as Manny
- Rance Howard as McCullough
- Lowell Ganz as Stan, the Tour Guide
- Babaloo Mandel as Rudy
- Clint Howard as Wedding Guest
- Lee Delano as Sergeant Leleandowski
- Migdia Chinea Varela as Wanda
- Eileen Saki as Dr. Fujimoto
- Jodi Long as Reporter
- Bill Smitrovich as Ralph Bauer
- Than Wyenn as Mr. Ambrose
- David Kreps as Young Allen
- Shayla MacKarvich as Young Madison
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. Director Ron Howard's father, actor Rance Howard, can be seen early in the film as Mr. McCullough, an unhappy customer screaming at Allen 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.
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 Walt Disney Productions, 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 from Warner Bros. that had lined up Warren Beatty as its star. Director Ron Howard promised the studio that Splash would be filmed more quickly and cheaply than the other film, which eventually fell through. Many big name actors such as Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Richard Gere, Kevin Kline, Bill Murray, and John Travolta were all considered for the lead role before the producers decided on the then lesser known Tom Hanks. Before Daryl Hannah was cast as Madison, it had already been turned down by Tatum O'Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lynne Frederick, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Melanie Griffith, Fiona Fullerton, Diane Lane, Kathleen Turner and Sharon Stone.
Principal photography began on 1 March 1983 and completed on 30 June 1983 in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York. The beach where Tom Hanks first encounters the nude Daryl Hannah is on the former Gorda Cay in the Bahamas.
Darryl Hannah's mermaid tail was designed and created by Academy Award-winning visual effects artist Robert Short. The tail was 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. However, by the standards of swimmable mermaid tails, the exceptionally detailed film tail was difficult to remove. For the sake of efficiency, Hannah at first kept it on while the cast had lunch. In the documentary contained on the 20th-anniversary Splash! DVD, Tom Hanks recalled how the other cast members would drop French fries over the side of the tank to her as though she were a trained sea mammal, for she couldn't leave the water while her legs were "shrink-wrapped."
The movie was a huge financial success. It was produced on an US$8 million budget, grossing $6,174,059 in its opening weekend and finished its domestic run with $69,821,334, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of 1984. The movie was also well received by critics and is considered to be one of the best films of 1984. It earned a 92% "Fresh" rating from the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.
- Saturn Award for Best Actress â" Daryl Hannah
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay â" Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
- Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay â" Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Brian Grazer, Babaloo Mandel
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay â" Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
- Saturn Award for Best Direction â" Ron Howard
- Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film
- Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor â" John Candy
- Saturn Award for Best Make-Up â" Robert J. Schiffer
- Saturn Award for Best Make-Up â" Robert Short
- Young Artist Award for Best Family Motion Picture â" Musical or Comedy
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs â" Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions â" Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 â" Nominated Fantasy Film
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. In 2000 the soundtrack was 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 (by Lee Holdridge and Will Jennings) 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 â" 02.
Cherry Lane album track listing
- "Love Came For Me (Love Theme)" (2:34)
- "Madison In Bloomingdale's" (1:37)
- "Mermaid On the Beach" (2:32)
- "Underwater" (2:20)
- "Reflection" (1:03)
- "Rainy Night" (2:40)
- "Face To Face" (1:25)
- "Escape And Chase" (2:54)
- "Madison And Allen" (3:04)
- "Moonlit Night" (2:56)
- "Daydream" (:55)
- "Raid On A Museum" (:50)
- "The Leap To Freedom" (3:35)
- "Return Home" (1:23)
Super Tracks album track listing
- "Main Title" (1:51)
- "First Meeting" (1:33)
- "The Boat/Mermaid On The Beach" (2:34)
- "Underwater â" Version No. 1" (1:29)
- "Underwater â" Version No. 2" (1:25)
- "Daydream" (:57)
- "Madison At Bloomingdale's" (1:09)
- "In The Bar" (2:12)
- "Late At Night" (2:35)
- "Watching TV" (1:24)
- "I Love You" (1:41)
- "Rainy Night" (2:38)
- "All Wet" (1:07)
- "Sneak Attack" (1:03)
- "Raid On A Museum" (:43)
- "Reunion" (1:21)
- "Escape And Chase" (2:55)
- "The Leap For Freedom" (2:20)
- "Return Home" (2:14)
- "Love Came To Me (Love Theme) â" Rita Coolidge" (4:30)
- "End Title" (3:07)
- "Rainy Night â" Version No. 2" (2:37)
- "Escape And Chase â" Film Version" (2:54)
- "The Leap For Freedom â" Film Version" (2:20)
- "Love Came For Me â" Solo Sax Version" (2:36)
- "Love Came For Me â" Solo Guitar Version" (3:48)
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 States for girls in 1990, the 29th most popular name for girls in 1995, and the 3rd most popular name for girls in 2000. In 2005, the name finally cracked the top 50 most popular girls' names in the United Kingdom, 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 is 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".
Actress and underwater stunt woman Mermaid Melissa's films, Real Life Adventures, are a tribute to Splash by replicating the mermaid tail used for the movie. Underwater scenes are filmed using the tail not only as a prop but as a functional swimming peripheral.
Film actor and underwater performer Merman Christian, uses fully functioning silicone tails that often feature the fin shape seen in Splash.
- Splash, Too (directed by Greg Antonacci), was a television film released in 1988 (contradicting the first movie's finale revelation that if Allen goes to live in the sea, he can never return) starring Todd Waring as Allen Bauer, Amy Yasbeck as Madison, and Donovan Scott as Freddie Bauer. 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 Kingdom.
- Aquamarine (directed by Elizabeth Allen), It is a similar film released in 2006 based in the book of Alice Hoffman, starring to Sara Paxton, Emma Roberts, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque and Jake McDorman.
- Mermaids in popular culture
- Splash at the Internet Movie Database
- Splash at the TCM Movie Database
- Splash at AllMovie
- Splash at Box Office Mojo
- Splash at Rotten Tomatoes
- Splash Youtube Trailer