Like a peek into the diary of every teenage girl, Winona Ryder’s gleefully melodramatic voiceover serves as our conduit into her unique brand of early-’60s proto-Goth swirled with a black humor that could only exist in a post-Heathers cinematic world. The inner monologue of brooding Jewish girl Charlotte, ironically hell-bent on a monastic existence, invites us into the quirky homestead of her sexually-confident mother Mrs. Flax (played by who else but the impossibly-ravishing Cher), her Esther Williams-esque, aquatically obsessed sister Kate (a 9 year-old Christina Ricci), and the father figure they all find in Bob Hoskins’ benevolent shoe salesman-cum-amateur portrait artist Lou. Seasons change, national tragedies strike, and Charlotte steals the family car—but life ultimately moves on in this delightful comfort film fit for the very same record books the annals of which young Kate is so obsessed with entering. Not to be dismissed as “Just Another ‘90s Teen Movie,” Mermaids might actually be the perfect holiday reminder of the unparalleled solidarity to be found in a family that just gets you—your weird obsession with nunneries and all.

Dir. Richard Benjamin, 1990, 35mm, 110 min.

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