‘Mermaids’ Was The Weirdest Movie Of The 90s But No One Remembers It
There are a whole lot of forgotten movies from our childhood. Some likely deserve to be abandoned, while others were too bizarre so that they were just not appreciated as much as they should have been.
One of these often ignored films was that the 1990 film Mermaids. Sure, it is not actually about mermaids especially, but if there is any human on earth who is essentially a real-life mermaid, it would be Cher.
It’s definitely a weird movie though, I mean, do you even remember how insane the plot was?
Cher stars in this bizarre story about an unconventional family in the 60s, but the thing is, it isn’t like most other movies.
When you look at the poster or the cover of the movie, you see a happy little family of three. Cher plays the mom, Rachel Flax, Winona Ryder plays the oldest daughter, Charlotte, and a very young Christina Ricci plays the young Kate.
Rachel is the type of person who never likes to settle down. She tends to move around a lot, taking her two daughters to a new town much more often than her daughters want.
Charlotte seems exceptionally annoyed by the constant moves, but when they move next door to a convent, she seems to find her calling. She becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming a nun, even though she’s Jewish.
Her mother is constantly trying to get her to move on from this obsession, but it isn’t until Charlotte meets Joe Poretti, a 26-year-old man who takes care of the convent. He’s played by non other than Sixteen Candles Michael Schoeffing, and it was one of the last movies he ever made.
While she’s only 15 years old, and desperately wants to become a nun, she falls for the man. When they eventually kiss, she runs away to purge all her sins. She also is under the impression that one kiss can get you pregnant, so she spends a lot of time worrying about that, even going as far as booking an appointment at a clinic under a fake name. Spoilers: She’s not pregnant.
But while all of this hormonal stuff is going on with the teenage Charlotte, little Kate is just trying to swim, and Rachel is falling for Lou Landsky, a shop owner in town. Lou is played by 90s movie regular Bob Hoskins, and he quickly falls in love with Rachel.
At one point Chalotte catches her mom giving Joe a little kiss as a thank you for driving her home, and gets so jealous that she drinks a bunch of Rachel’s wine, also giving some to her young sister.
Honestly, while a lot of movies have teenagers drinking, seeing a really young kid drinking is a whole other level.
This drunken excursion ends up with Charlotte leaving Kate at the convent and going to find Joe to take their relationship to the next level. But while Charlotte and Joe have their romantic evening, Kate ends up falling into a river and nearly drowns because she had too much wine.
The nuns save her, but when Rachel finds out there is a big blow up between the teenager and her mom.
Somehow, they end up staying in the town for another year, and when the story catches back up with them Rachel is still with Lou, but Charlotte has moved on from her Catholicism obsession and instead becomes interested in Greek mythology.
Honestly, I understand the plot of this movie is pretty wild, but my biggest question about it was always, “but why is it called mermaids?”
I guess there is that one scene where she dresses up like a mermaid, but according to one very harsh review by Desson Howe, it seems like no one really knows.
“Speaking of fish, why is this movie called Mermaids?” Howe asked in a 1990 review of the movie. “Is it the fish-outta-water status the family feels in this button-down, straight world? Is it Ricci’s swimming ambitions? The mermaid costume Cher wears for New Year’s Eve? Or is it the way the movie flounders from start to finish?”
While there is no answer, I think we can all agree that this quirky 60s-based story about a single mom and her kids went over a lot of our heads.