Aquamarine

on March 03, 2006 by Matt Caracappa
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"Aquamarine" has more holes than a fish that's been thrown back by every sailor in the Keys, but for what it is, it's surprisingly good. The gorgeous and capable Sara Paxton stars as the title character -- a mermaid who washes up at a Florida beach resort and into the lives of two star-crossed best friends, Claire (Emma Roberts) and Hailey (pop singer JoJo). Upon hearing that mermaids grant wishes to anyone who helps them, the girls strike a deal: If the landlubbers are able to help Aquamarine find love in three days to avoid her planned marriage, she'll keep Hailey's family from moving to Australia. Fair enough.

Core plot aside, "Aquamarine," adapted from Alice's Hoffman's novel, is more the story of two very typical tweens teaching their sometimes-befuddled new friend what it means to be a girl. Namely: Calling boys and hanging up, reading fashion magazines and mastering the art of flirting. With her sights set on popular lifeguard Raymond (Jake McDorman), Aquamarine's mission of finding love against the clock takes us on a trail through a happy bubblegum land of safe and good girly fun for female viewers that are too old for sap but too young for sex. In short, this is one for the little ladies in your life who are only just determining what it means to be hip.

The strength of the movie lies with a script that really doesn't have a right to be as good as it is; after all, this is the homogenized version of "Splash." It also survives the waves on the strength of its key players' performances. JoJo was particularly game for being exactly what her character called for, and Roberts' experience on whatever that Nickelodeon series of hers is called would do her Aunt Julia proud. Paxton shines in every scene, and though a lead in this movie is no small shakes, you can certainly expect she'll have even bigger fish to fry in the future. Starring Sara Paxton, Emma Roberts and JoJo. Directed by Elizabeth Allen. Written by John Quaintance and Jessica Bendiger. Produced by Susan Cartsonis and Steven R. McGlothen. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG for mild language and sensuality. Running time: 109 min

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