Coming this Friday to theatres from director Rob Marshall and Walt Disney Studios is the new version of THE LITTLE MERMAID.
Ariel (Halle Bailey) lives under the sea with father King Triton (Javier Bardem) and her sisters. Her friends fish Flounder (Jacob Tremblay) and seagull Scuttle (Awkwafina). Trying to keep up with her on the daily is crab Sebastian (Daveed Diggs). When Ariel doesn’t show up for a family meeting, King Triton is not happy and makes it clear that it’s time for Sebastian to be her full-time babysitter.
That’s a hard job because this mermaid loves going above water and seeing how the world is on land and collecting things that fall to the sea in shipwrecks. Both are on the not-to-do list of her father. Watching in the wings is Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) who isn’t happy about being basically banished by the King so she’s always looking for ways to make him pay.
On land is Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) who loves being on the water and sailing away on new adventures. Not happy about that is his handler Sir Grimsby (Art Malik) and mother Queen Selina (Noma Dumezweni). Especially when a storm sinks Erik’s ship and lands him in Ariel’s arms delivering him to the shores.
Eric gets a peak of the girl who saved him and spends his time trying to convince everyone that there was a girl who saved him. Meantime, Ariel gets herself into trouble with Ursula who tricks her into becoming human so she can experience land. Now Eric and Ariel get to spend time together and he finds himself falling for her.
Ursula isn’t about it and brings about mayhem as the truth comes in on a wave as everyone begins to see the whole world differently.
Bailey as Ariel is fine and she has a nice voice. Trying to decide between two worlds, the character of Ariel is about dreams, hopes and being different. Bardem as Triton is not only a King but a dad of almost every mermaid. Set in his ways, it is hard for him to change and it costs him.
Hauer-King as Eric is not such much. His story is muddled to make it okay that he’s “adopted” and not even called Prince Eric. Not a fan. McCarthy as Ursula is charming but quite honestly the scenes with her in it are so dark it’s hard to get the full evil-comic effect. Her song-take of ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ is still as catchy as the original Pat Carroll version.
Trembly as the voice of Flounder is cute but the animated Flounder looks like he needs to be in rehab for something because his eyes are freaky and I can’t get past that. Awkwafina as Scuttle just takes it too far, when she talks, all I hear is Sisu from MAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON. She seems to have only one comedy bit to offer and its starting to bleed all of her comedy together. Diggs as Sebastian gives us Sebastian but looks wise, he needs to join Flounder because he’s freaky as well.
Malik as Sir Grimsby seems to be the only smart person in this film so he can hang with me any day, plus he is a butler so there’s that.
Other cast include Martina Laird as Lashana, Emily Coates as Rosa, Christopher Fairbank as Hawkins, John Dagleish as Mulligan, Jude Akuwudike as Joshua, Lorena Andrea as Perla, Simone Ashley as Indira, Karolina Conchet as Mala, Sienna King as Tamika, Kajsa Mohammar as Karina and Nathalie Sorrell as Caspia.
THE LITTLER MERMAID is once again a film that did not need to be made. Disney seems to have forgotten itself and the thing that made us love Disney through the generations – animated films. They are so busy trying to prove that they are so in the know, they do not bother to ask themselves whether remakes should be done at all – let alone live-action that may thrill some but the dollars say otherwise to their success.
It has nothing to do with the squawking going on regarding the casting of Ariel, it has to do with the tweaking of the story (I mean really? Eric was found in the ocean and adopted? Please.) The animation itself is so all over the place that it feels unfocused, especially the scenes with Ursula. That is an awesome character that deserved better all around.
There are songs that don’t need to be sung (listen up Eric and Scuttle). The animated film runs 83 minutes from start to finish, the new version is two hours and fifteen minutes! There is absolutely no need for it but once again, it feels as if Disney and director Marshall are trying to prove how cool their live-action version is. Had it stuck to the 83 minutes I might have felt a little different.
I have no doubt that there will be those thrilled with the film, good on them and I hope they have an amazing time. There is a part of me that wishes it had gone straight to Disney+ so that perhaps more people could enjoy it but it will get there fairly quick is my guess.
Sometimes films do not resonate with some people and that’s okay. Let everyone enjoy what they like and keep their memories in tact of a special time in their lives. The new THE LITTLE MERMAID will resonate with others and add to their own special memories and that is what matters.
In the end – be part of her world!