The Reel Review
Ariel, the defiant youngest daughter of King Triton, ruler of the merpeople, is fascinated with humans, despite her father’s dislike for them. After she rescues a dashing young prince, Ariel makes a deal with her evil sea witch aunt to trade her voice for human legs and give up her life as a mermaid to be with him, in this live action remake of the beloved Disney classic.
For years now, Disney has been remaking beloved animated classics as live action films. Some (The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon) have been truly incredible, with others (Aladdin, Dumbo) feeling more like uninspired cash grabs. The Little Mermaid fortunately is the former. Halle Bailey is phenomenal – from her singing to her perfect blend of girlish exuberance and immense likability – she carries the film with ease. Supporting cast standouts are a devilishly campy Melissa McCarthy as Triton’s evil sister Ursula, Javier Bardem as Triton, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian the crab and Awkwafina as Scuttle the seagull. The rendition of “Under the Sea” is a real charmer.
The are only a couple of minor downsides to the film – some of the underwater visuals are not so realistic compared to the non-CGI portions of the film, and some of the new tunes from Lin-Manuel Miranda lack the spark or charm of the original tunes, which fortunately are still in the film. Regardless, this more mature version of The Little Mermaid, about taking chances to follow your heart, is a heartfelt winner.
• “The Little Mermaid” is an 1837 fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. A statue portraying the mermaid is a popular tourist site in Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen.
• Director Rob Marshall says Halle Bailey was the first person to audition for Ariel and that her rendition of “Part of Your World” left him in tears.
• Jodi Benson, the original voice of Ariel in 1989’s animated The Little Mermaid, appears as the woman giving Ariel a fork during Ariel and Prince Eric’s tour of the market.