“The Little Mermaid”: Years in the Making


Elizabeth Ippolito

Directed By: Rob Marshall
Starring: Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, and Jonah Hauer-King
Rate: 4/5

In 2016 Disney announced a live-action version of the 1989 Disney cartoon of the same name. Fans have been eager to see this film come to life and on May 26, 2023 audiences finally were able to see it on the big screen.

“The Little Mermaid” follows Ariel, the daughter of King Triton. Ariel longs to learn more about the world on the land. After seeing a shipwreck on the shore, Ariel uses her siren song to save Prince Eric from dying. Soon after she makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula, who grants her three days of life on shore to be with Eric, but to do this she must give up her voice to Ursula. If she fails to kiss Prince Eric within three days she is subjected to Ursula for the rest of her life.

Halle Bailey plays the main character Ariel and does a fantastic job with the role. From her voice to her mannerisms, Bailey has the part of Ariel down to a science. Bailey received a lot of backlash when she was announced to play Ariel because she doesn’t look like how the original version of Ariel looked. After seeing the film I can attest that now more than ever changing the script of how parts “should” be cast to fit social norms should be diversified more often.

Melissa McCarthy shows her musical chops on screen in a way she has never done before as the part of Ursula. McCarthy is well-known for her work in comedy films, but “The Little Mermaid” was her first shot at a musical. Nailing the part almost perfectly with her rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and her commanding of the screen, McCarthy was the absolute perfect choice for the role.

Finally, the part of Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King, was another flawless pick. With equal parts talent and charm, there was no one better to play debatably the best prince in any Disney film.

“The Little Mermaid” mainly stuck to the soundtrack of the original film, with four new songs which were written by Lin Manuel Miranda. Featuring a new song called “Uncharted Waters” which finally allows Prince Eric to show off his voice. Also showcased was a new song “For the First Time” written by Lin Manuel Miranda and composer of the original film Alan Menken.

Making a film look like it takes place under the sea is incredibly difficult and “The Little Mermaid” makes the setting look very realistic. From the mermaids to all of the sea creatures, Disney works wonders in creating this fictional world and bringing it to life. The film’s coloring is a bit dark at times but the film goes above and beyond with details. Bailey’s hair stylist claimed they spent $150,000 on Ariel’s iconic red locs. The film’s production design is incredible from the details of the coral to every prop and costume audiences see on land. A whole new world is created in front of audiences’ eyes.

Critics claim the film is lengthy and relies too heavily on CGI, but they also praise the risks taken by the cast and production teams alike. Audiences gave the film a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and claimed, “A few minor missteps can’t erase the fact that The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s best live-action remakes to date and a film that should entertain parents and children alike”.

Fans should run, not walk, to see “The Little Mermaid” as one of the most beautiful Disney films we’ll see for a while.