When Disney first announced the remake of the live adaptation of ‘The Little Mermaid’ an animated hit in 1989, I was beyond excited. To be completely honest, growing up as a Disney Princess stan, I had high expectations for this film.
The original Little Mermaid film that I remember was definitely a musical fantasy filled with vibrant colours and captivating storytelling with fascinating elements such as the well-known Sea Witch, Ursula, the handsome prince, and my dear princess, Ariel.
I guess you could say that this film holds a special place in my heart. Of course, this means that my expectations for this new 2023 live adaptation were high.
The 2023 live adaptation of the iconic ‘The Little Mermaid’ featured a star-studded cast of Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, and Jessica Alexander, who reprised their roles as Ariel, Prince Eric, Ursula, and Vanessa.
Halle Bailey replaced Jodi Benson as Ariel in this film, which gives the audience mixed feelings thinking if Disney has made the right choice in living up to the original.
Jodi Benson is an American voice actress and singer, known for voicing both the singing and voice for Ariel in the 1989 Little Mermaid film.
‘I WANT MORE…’
In the original film, Ariel, a 16-year-old mermaid princess with long and bright red hair, was dissatisfied with her underwater life and got curious about the human world. She ended up getting close to the humans even when her father, King Triton, forbids her to.
After watching the new live adaptation, casting Halle Bailey as Ariel sits about right to me only with the fact that her hair should have been bright red too. This would have suited the role better and it gives the audience the familiarity that she was casting as Ariel in the sea.
With red hair, I feel that the whole film would be uplifted to another level as it would accurately portray the characters well, and partly because red is green’s complementary colour, adding a touch of contrast and vibrancy.
I have to say though, her performance in the song ‘Part of Your World’ was sensational and impactful to watch. Not only does she have a killer voice, but the portrayal of being soft-spoken and innocent just like Ariel in the animated film really does come through.
The song, ‘Part of Your World’ was sung by Ariel in the first part of the film, wishing to be closer to the world out of water. It is one of the most famous hits from the original animated film with over a million views on YouTube within a span of one month.
In the midst of the film, she traded her voice for a pair of legs just so she could capture the attention of the Prince, Prince Eric whom she has a crush on. This was with the help of the treacherous sea witch, Ursula.
A Missed Opportunity
Originally, the animated villainous sea witch was scary looking with an unnaturally high hairline and gigantic cursive eyebrows, and over-the-top makeup. I remembered being scared of her when I was a little girl.
The live-action remake, on the other hand, did not live up to this when the Director, Rob Marshall, traded the look and attitude of Ursula with a less scary-looking sea witch, taking away the experience and lack of imagination.
Melissa McCarthy did have good voice modulation replacing Patt Carroll as Ursula. From the laughter to the tone of Ursula’s voice, it was really spot on. Visually, I just wanted more from her makeup to her gigantic look.
A Nice Touch Indeed!
Although there were fresh updates to the Disney classics like ‘Part of Your World’ and ‘Under the Sea’, this film managed to put a cherry on top with a new original track, written by Lin-Manuel called, ‘The Scuttlebutt’.
This new track is a rap song sung by Sebastian, the red crab, and Scuttle, the seagull from the film. It was about their own theories when they heard rumours about Prince Eric deciding to get married.
There were mixed feelings about this song from the audience – Some liked it, and some felt that the rapping was horrible.
This rap element for me, on the other hand, comes off as a nice fun touch to the whole film after a soothing and classical play by Halle. It adds a dimension to the whole film itself, allowing me to groove along to the beats.
‘Where Is the French Chef?’
As a child, I remembered watching the animated classic and laughing at the notable scene where Sebastian, the red crab, was running away and fighting for his life in the castle’s kitchen to get to Ariel.
In the animated film, the royal chef, Chef Louis, who normally cooks crabs makes Sebastian his primary target. He first appears in a kitchen of Prince Eric’s Castle, singing the song ‘Les Poissons’.
This live-action remake, however, does not have this scene or character.
With this notable and iconic scene from The Little Mermaid missing, I was devastated as I was looking forward to seeing how this would work in a live-action film.
Voiced by Rene Auberjonois in the animated classic, Chef Louis, an eccentric chef with a French accent, would certainly add a touch of fun and an exciting element to the 2023 film.
Overall, I enjoyed watching the thrilling elements of under-the-sea adventures and seeing my childhood character come to life. However, this film felt like it did not have the magic of the original.
The depiction of characters from the original film and the missing iconic scenes was unable to capture the magic of what The Little Mermaid was all about. As a fan of Disney, despite the use of music and emotions, this film was a little boring to watch as compared to the animated classic.
Verdict: 3/5. Watch it for nostalgia, not for the portrayal of characters.