I wanna be a part of your world, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review of Disney’s latest live action remake of one of their classic movies.
Ah, the Little Mermaid, that classic fish out of water (pun intended) story of whether or not the grass is really greener on the other side of the fence, or as Sebastian the Crab tells us, the seaweed isn’t always greener in somebody else’s lake.
It’s been widely lampooned online, from the dead-eyed emotionless talking animals (I can’t tell if Scuttle and Flounder like Ariel or want to kill her and eat her body) to the casting of an African American actress (much ado about nothing), it seemed like this would be more of Disney’s wokesterism run amuck.
But I gotta be honest. Even an only anti-woke curmudgeon like myself enjoyed it. The fun songs, the pageantry, the bright colors, the animation effects that take people and turn them into mermaids, it was all a lot of fun.
It’s the same old plot. King Triton’s (Javier Bardem) youngest daughter/princess, Ariel (Hallie Bailey), is a mermaid obsessed with the surface world. That’s a dangerous place, warns Triton, who forbids her from visiting the surface ever again, but kids will be kids and Ariel continues to defy her old man with BFFs Flounder and Scuttle (Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay) while royal lackey Sebastian (Daveed Diggs) tags along.
When Ariel rescues Prince Eric from a shipwreck and restores him to life with her magic voice, a romance blooms but alas it’s not to be, you know, because I don’t want to come right out and explain it to you but he’s a dude and her lady business is all mackerel, just for the halibut (pa rum pum pum.) Oh, what do you know? I did spell it out for you.
Alas, Ariel is tricked into striking a devil’s bargain with sea hag Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), trading her voice for legs. Creepo that she is, Ursula puts her thumb on the scales, and it’s a mad cap race for the bird, the fish and the crab to help the now human mermaid woo the prince into a smooch before the passing of three days.
Hallie Bailey captures a lot of that Ariel charm, a combination of ambition and naivete, where the youth really want something but have idea the fire they’ll have to walk through to get it, or the burns they’ll suffer and maybe even inflict on others to get there. Diggs does a fine Sebastian impression. Jonah Hauer King is a pretty standard Prince Eric, but plays Ariel’s match, as he too wants more than what his family wants for him.
Jacob Tremblay is a good Flounder though are fishy friend doesn’t get a lot to do, I can’t remember if he had a lot to do in the original. Scuttle gets a gender swap, which I squawked at, at first, but then I mean, I’m not knocking Awkwafina, but come on. She does sound a little bit like a bird. She gets to flex her comedy rap muscles too.
Hallie Bailey really does shine in the role and doesn’t deserve the crap she’s getting. Her renditions of classic songs like “I Want to Be a Part of Your World) match the quality of the original.
Whether it’s the original or the remake, I always found The Little Mermaid to be one of the most bittersweet of Disney flicks, as it mimics a lot of what most kids go through as they grow up. They have things they want to do but then there’s also what their parents want them to do. Their parents want them to do things that are largely considered the safest route, because they’re older and have been knocked around by the world and since it didn’t kill them, they came out wiser for it. The kids want to do something else but are young, dumb and trusting, easily taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. If they aren’t lucky enough to navigate such dangerous waters to achieve their wildest dreams, then they do may become the old world weary parent urging their offspring to be practical.
Is the seaweed always greener in somebody else’s lake? Maybe. Maybe not. The problem is a) you know the seaweed in your lake and you can’t help but see all its faults, so to you it stinks but you don’t see the greenery another might see. b) the seaweed elsewhere might be truly green, but you won’t find out until you’ve abandoned your lake and the family the comes with it.
That and there’s the whole Ariel has to change and become a human thing. It’s what she wants and um, well changing your body from one form to another takes on a whole new controversial meaning today, but one might argue that Ariel should accept herself as the half-lady, half-tuna, all mer-woman being that God made her as and if Eric doesn’t want any scales on his man business then that’s his problem.
It’s either a tale about a young woman who bravely defies the odds to follow her dreams or a young woman who completely changes her entire self to make a dude happy, depending on how you look at it.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I know a lot of people wonder why Disney keeps making live action remakes. I think it’s just to keep their famous core IP properties going and introduce them to new generations.