Author Alice Hoffman has said this about her popular pre-teen novel, Aquamarine: "If I'm asked if Aquamarine is only for children, I would have to say no. This is a book I wrote … to remind myself that no matter how difficult it is to say goodbye, it is still possible for the power of friendship to triumph and for love to be the final victory."
True to her vision, the movie adaptation of Aquamarine is a sweet and relatable story about friendship, sacrifice and love. And while it's definitely made for girls between 10 and 14 (complete with cartoon bubbles, fast-forward filming, and a Radio Disney soundtrack), its message and charm won't be lost on many viewers. Neither will its humor—there are many authentically laugh-out-loud scenes. Older teens may say they'd rather be caught dead than seen at this film, but most will walk away pleased and with much to relate to (even if they won't admit it).
Best friends Hailey (Joanna `JoJo' Levesque) and Claire (Emma Roberts) share a secret
The movie begins with soon-to-be 8th graders Hailey (Joanna Levesque) and Claire (Emma Roberts) trying to make the very most of their summer—and their last few weeks together. In just days, Hailey is moving to Australia. Crushed that they will soon be separated, the best friends spend almost every waking hour together—either ogling the hunky high school lifeguard Raymond (Jake McDorman) or dreading the big move that'll leave them both alone. They wish for a way to stay together.
Their prayers seem answered when a hurricane washes ashore Aquamarine (Sara Paxton), a mermaid who needs their help. Arranged to marry a merman she doesn't love, Aquamarine has struck a deal with her father: If she can prove—in three days—that the fabled notion of love does exist, he will let her out of the betrothal. When she sets her eyes on Raymond, Hailey and Claire strike a deal of their own: If they get Raymond to pledge his love to Aquamarine in three days, Aquamarine will make their biggest wish come true—Hailey won't move.
The film's greatest treasure is the sweet and real relationship between Claire and Hailey. It's so easy to believe these two girls have a supportive, fun and comfortable friendship that started long before the opening credits. But the main reason this relationship feels authentic is that each of them is a very real and relatable pre-teen character. They are normal, un-Hollywood girls with fears, dreams, insecurities, emotional scars, and lots of laughter. They are extremely relatable. Everyone has felt like these girls—a bundle of mixed emotions from excitement and joy in life itself to insecurity and fear about the future. And everyone has wanted a best friend like they have. Everyone has also wanted a friend like Aquamarine—not with a tail fin, but one who is confident, self-assured, challenging and affirming. Together, the three of them learn and grow. Claire discovers that life is not something to fear, but to be friends with. Hailey learns to put aside her anger and selfishness to see a bigger world. And Aquamarine finds that love does exist.