Let’s talk about The Little Mermaid.
There isn’t a bigger disconnect between the general public and the online movie chatty people, I cannot think of a better term, than the subject of Disney remakes, especially the ones which are almost shot for shot like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Ask a film rebuff and they recoil, calling them unimaginative and one of the reasons they hate modern cinema. They much prefer it when they reimagine those old movies like with The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon. Only one of those films was a success by the way. However when Disney do release one of these movies, people flock to them. Those two movies at the top and Aladdin all made over a billion dollars. So no wonder that we are getting another with a live action remake of The Little Mermaid.
Ariel is a mermaid that is obsessed with humans but is forbidden by her father King Triton to interact with them. Despite that, she saves the life of human Prince Eric and having fallen in love, makes a deal with sea witch Ursula to go on land. However, Ursula has her own plans meaning Ariel may lose everything.
The entire film relies upon the person playing Ariel. That person is Halle Bailey, someone whose life is destined to be getting called Halle Berry for the rest of her life. She has got a lot of undeserved criticism for the casting from neckbeards who demand everything be different but then when there is a change, get very angry at that too. But Berry is absolutely brilliant at a role that is a lot tougher than it seems. Ariel is very naive and curious as well as being headstrong which can be a deadly combination. If a performer, and the writing they are given, gets it wrong, their character becomes very irritating. And then later in the film when Ariel loses her voice, the actor needs to sell everything with just their face, another tough task. But Berry is brilliant at it all, making Ariel incredibly likable even though the character does do plenty of daft things. She is the beating heart of this movie.
Of course, many of you are just here for the music. This is one of the reasons the general public loves these remakes, they get to see a slightly different version of a song they love. Thankfully, the originals are all done brilliantly in this. Halle Bailey has some pipes and part of her great performance is just completely selling Part of Your World. Daveed Diggs is in this movie as Sebastian and his songs are fantastic too seeing as he probably has the most singing out of anyone when you think about it. The Kiss the Girl sequence is absolutely brilliant by the way with some fantastic visuals really making the scene pop. Whatever else you think of this movie, you have to acknowledge how brilliant that scene sounds and looks.
Not all the songs are great. There’s the usual introduction of new songs, and normally I’d just say they don’t really fit with the old songs, are pretty mediocre and move on. That’s the case for Eric’s song, which follows in the footsteps of the other Disney remakes by giving the love interest a really dull song to try and give them more to do. Maybe one day they’ll get that Best Song nomination they want one day. But then there’s the Scuttlebutt. The Scuttlebutt is a rap song performed by Awwkafina and it is a new addition to get another song on the soundtrack. It is one of the worst things you’ll ever hear, the musical equivalent of slashing your testicles with rusty knives. I have no idea how in a movie that will have gone through so many different committees how this song survived.
The movie is largely quite energetic and it heads through it’s script pretty quickly, making it ideal for families. Javier Bardem is here as King Triton and while it’s not really a role that’s going to stretch him, he brings the sort of gravitas you need to make that role work. Melissa McCarthy is absolutely delightful as a cackling Ursula and it makes me wonder how she wasn’t cast in this sort of role before because she seems born for it. Also while I’m on this, the orchestration for Poor Unfortunate Souls is just perfect. Most of the performances in this film are great, except Eric. He is played by a lad called Jonah Hauer-King who does not have any charisma or anything that brings you into the character. It’s a shame because they do try and give Eric more to do in this film compared to the original but the most he brings is a confused look which is less than prince dazzled by this mystery goal and more ‘I need to know where the nearest toilet is, just in case’.
I think to know if you’ll like The Little Mermaid, you need to think back to those other Disney remakes like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. Did you think those movies were fun with lively songs and enthusastic performances? Then you’ll probably enjoy The Little Mermaid because it does very similar things and does many right things to make sure the audience goes out of the cinema smiling. Did you think they were lazy cash grabs and that they should actually write an original script? This will not do anything to change your mind. Like the other Disney remakes of the 90s classics, this is quite a likable movie with good music but some questionable elements which mean you should probably watch the original if given the choice. But if you need a cinema trip, this is a fun watch that most people will enjoy.