The Little Mermaid review: A fairy tale ‘for the age of Marvel movies’

by The Insights

There is logic in the distribution of live action and animation here. Even the demi-humans are played by actors while everyone is animated, including Ariel’s friends Scuttle the bird (voiced by Awkwafina, given too few funny lines) and Flounder (Jacob Tremblay in a role functional). But if only we could have seen Diggs sing and dance.

Melissa McCarthy plays the sea witch Ursula with evil glee, but is constantly overwhelmed by flashes of light, her own restless tentacles, and other special effects, especially when she offers Ariel her deal: to grow legs. , go over the sea and make Eric fall in love with her, but do it speechless. Even without dialogue, Bailey makes her connection to Eric seem real, and Hauer-King gives Eric enough character, a prince with a social conscience, to be more than Disney’s usual bland dream ship. .

The original songs by Alan Menken, with lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, are mostly intact, and small changes are barely noticeable improvements. Kiss the Girl now says “Just ask her” instead of suggesting Eric simply accept the kiss, and Ursula’s Poor Unfortunate Souls no longer suggests that men prefer women who can’t speak (even though the film is set in 19th century ). Menken’s three new songs with lyrics by Lin Manuel-Miranda fall short, however. A rap called The Scuttlebutt, which Awkwafina and Sebastian sing, isn’t great but at least it avoids the blandness of Eric’s Wild Uncharted Waters and Ariel’s For the First Time.

In true superhero fashion, the film feels padded. A dance scene on a beach and a carriage ride for Eric and Ariel lengthen the duration to 2h15. In another unnecessary touch, Eric’s mother, the Queen (Noma Dumezweni), delivers a final, direct message of unity, saying that the worlds of sea and land must live in harmony. The film’s diverse cast has already showcased unity, and done so much more eloquently. However, the Little Mermaid mostly avoids preaching. It remains what it has always been: a charming, escapist fairy tale.


The Little Mermaid is on general release from May 26.

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