Splash (1984)

Film and Plot Synopsis

A young eight-year-old Alan Bauer nearly drowns as a child until he is saved by a mysterious mermaid girl. Years later, as an adult, Allen believes his childhood incident was a hallucination, but the incident has affected all his romantic relationships since. When Allen has a second encounter with same mermaid, who eventually goes by the name of Madison, his life is turned upside down. Allen and Madison are soulmates who are meant for each other, but can their love survive Madison’s revelation of her mermaid heritage let alone the pursuit of the scientists who wish to capture and study Madison, even if it kills her?

‘Splash’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Splash (1984)In 1964, young Allen Bauer (David Kreps) is vacationing with his family near Cape Cod. The family takes a sight-seeing tour on a tourist boat, and while Allen’s parents are busy wrangling Allen’s brother Freddie, Allen jumps into the ocean after seeing something below the surface. Allen cannot swim, but a young mermaid girl (Shayla Mackarvich) saves him and assists him with breathing underwater. However, Allen is yanked back to the surface by people on the boat and reunited with his family. The young mermaid girl cries as she watches the boat drift off into the horizon.

Twenty years later, an older Allen (Tom Hanks) lives in New York and is a co-owner of a wholesale fruit and vegetable business in New York with his philandering brother Freddie (John Candy). Allen is still haunted by the memory of the mermaid girl, which he now convinces himself was a near-death hallucination. Nevertheless, all of Allen’s subsequent relationships have been affected by the memory which causes Allen to believe that he can never fall in love.

After another break up, Allen goes to Cape Cod in the middle of the night. Once there, he encounters a jerk of a scientist named Dr. Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy), who believes that Allen is attempting to spy on his research. Kornbluth is researching a theory that mythical sea creatures exist in the real world. Allen takes a small boat to reach the far shore despite still not knowing how to swim. The boat stalls out, but Allen gets it working again. However, the sudden start of the boat causes Allen to fall out of the boat into the sea. The unmanned boat circles around and hits Allen in the head, knocking him unconscious. Allen’s wallet falls out of his pocket and settles on the bottom of the ocean. A mysterious hand grabs Allen as he begins to sink deep into the ocean.

Allen wakes on a beach with a severe headache. He sees a beautiful, naked woman (Daryl Hannah) who rushes down from the rocks to kiss him before jumping into the ocean. The woman says nothing to Allen, and despite Allen’s pleas for her to return to shore, she swims away. The woman is the now adult mermaid, and she retrieves Allen’s wallet from the sea bottom. She also encounters Kornbluth who sees her but fails to get a picture of her on his underwater camera. The mermaid uses Allen’s driver’s license and a map from a sunken ship to determine where Allen lives. She then proceeds to swim to New York.

Allen returns to New York and tells Freddie about his misadventures. Meanwhile, the mermaid swims ashore on Liberty Island, and proceeds to walk into a guided tour on two normal legs in all her naked glory. The police arrest the mermaid and contact Allen since the only thing she has with her is his wallet. Allen rushes to the police station. When the mermaid sees him again, the first thing she does is kiss him passionately. Allen takes her back to his apartment in Manhattan.

The next day, Allen goes into work, and the mermaid takes some of Allen’s clothes and goes to Bloomingdale’s to shop for clothes. While at the store, she watches television which teaches her how to speak English. A desperate Allen finds her at the store and is shocked that she speaks English so fluently. When Allen asks the mermaid her name, she screeches a noise that shatters the televisions in the store. Due to Allen’s inability to pronounce the mermaid’s name, she takes the name Madison from the famous Madison Avenue street sign. Madison tells Allen that she will be in New York for only six days and then she must return home, or she will not be able to go home again.

Over the next few days, Allen and Madison continue to spend a lot of time together and begin to fall in love with each other. However, Allen continues to be bothered by Madison’s strange behavior. Nevertheless, Allen proposes to Madison, but she tells him no and runs away when Allen becomes angry. After spending a night away from Allen, Madison returns and tells her man that she will marry him. She promises Allen that she will tell him the truth about herself at some future point.

Meanwhile, Kornbluth is ridiculed by many members of the scientific community. However, he recognizes Madison’s photo from her arrival on Liberty Island and begins to seek her out to expose her as mermaid. Kornbluth continually tries to get Madison wet so that she will revert to her mermaid form. However, he repeatedly douses the wrong woman resulting in Kornbluth receiving a broken arm from the woman’s significant other.

A few days later, Allen and Madison attend a dignitary dinner to welcome the President of the United States. In the middle of the dinner, Madison tells Allen that she is ready to tell him about her past. The two proceed to leave the dinner and are ambushed by Kornbluth outside while they are waiting for a taxi. The scientist sprays Madison with a hose causing her mermaid tail to appear. Allen is shocked, but he is quickly pushed aside by the media who swarm Madison before she can explain to Allen.

Madison and Allen are both seized by government agents and taken to a secret lab in New York’s Natural History Museum. The research group is led by Kornbluth’s rival Dr. Ross (Richard B. Shull) although Kornbluth is allowed to stay on the project. Allen is poked and prodded, but after it is determined that he is not a merman, he is released. The scientists continue to examine Madison, even though she begins to turn ill. When Kornbluth learns that she is to be dissected for research purposes, Kornbluth begins to regret his involvement.

Meanwhile, Freddie tries to consul his brother, but Allen voices his frustration and anger in Madison. Freddie lashes out at his brother, reminding his brother how unbelievably happy he was with Madison while they were together. Allen suddenly realizes that he loves Madison and tries to contact the government to see her. When that fails, he tracks down the guilt-ridden Kornbluth who agrees to help him rescue her.

The next day, Kornbluth escorts Allen and Freddie into the secret lab, having them impersonate Swedish scientists. Allen and Kornbluth smuggle Madison out of the building, leaving Freddie to take her place. They rush across New York to get Madison to the harbor. Once at the harbor, Madison tells Allen that he can go with her despite his inability to swim. She reminds him of his childhood when she helped him breathe underwater. Allen is excited to go with her until she tells him that he can never come back to see his brother. Devastated, Allen decides to stay and tells Madison to go before she is captured. Madison dives into the harbor and begins to swim away.

Government divers begin dropping from helicopters over the harbor. Worried for Madison, Allen jumps into the harbor to help her. Once in the water, Allen begins to drown again until Madison returns for him. Madison kisses him which gifts him the ability to breathe underwater. The couple fight off all the divers and then swim to the open ocean together, propelled by Madison’s powerful mermaid tail. Allen and Madison swim along the ocean floor towards Madison’s secret underwater kingdom to live happily ever after.

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Buena Vista Distribution released Splash on March 9, 1984. Ron Howard directed the film starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, and Eugene Levy.

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