Disney has been steadily going through its rich animation library making live-action remakes of each hit. While the results have been somewhat mixed, the box office is large enough that the company continues to push forward with these releases. Next up is The Little Mermaid, which is very similar to many of the other live-action remakes. It does some things well, other things poorly, and ends up being a fairly middle-of-the-road film.
The cast of The Little Mermaid is nearly flawless. Halle Bailey completely embodies Ariel. She nails the expressions of wonder from the animated film and truly feels like a proper live-action take on the character. Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and Jacob Tremblay as Flounder are equally impressive with their voice work, bringing these characters to life, despite their awkward live-action appearances. While there’s been some internet drama over Awkwafina as Scuttle, her voice fits well and was an enjoyable addition to the cast.
Melissa McCarthy as Ursula and Javier Bardem as King Triton are easily the weakest links in the cast. Bardem’s accent sounds quite thick in the film, despite the fact that he was easy to understand in Being the Ricardos. It may have something to do with the sound editing, or perhaps another ADR session was needed, but something was off. Melissa McCarthy simply felt more like herself trying to impersonate Ursula, rather than really bringing the character to life.
Most of the classic songs hole up well, primarily due to Bailey’s exceptional voice. However, the new songs are a big step down from the classics. Without having seen the animated original in many years, it was still blatantly obvious which songs were new just by how lackluster they were in comparison.
The original animated film clocked in at 83 minutes. However, the new live-action remake is 135 minutes. Much of the additional time was just needless fluff. It didn’t add to the story and just seemed to be there to deliberately add to the running time. The pacing was also off due to the added footage, making the final act feel like a speed run to the end.
While the film isn’t a direct one-to-one with the animated movie, it attempts to follow it very closely. This causes some of the scenes to come off a little awkward, and even some of the camera angles and panning felt off for a live-action film. This is definitely a film that should’ve taken a few more liberties to become its own thing instead of trying to mimic the animated movie so literally.
The Little Mermaid isn’t a bad film more so than it simply feels unnecessary. Fans of the animated original will still want to check this film out, and Halle Bailey’s performance alone is worth the price of admission, but a single viewing is more than enough. Many fans will be happy going back to the animated version over and over again, leaving the live-action remake to collect digital dust when it eventually lands on Disney Plus.
About The Little Mermaid
Synopsis: A young mermaid makes a deal with a sea witch to trade her beautiful voice for human legs so she can discover the world above water and impress a prince.
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: David Magee
Stars: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina
Runtime: 2 Hours, 15 Minutes
Releases: May 26, 2023
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.