‘The Little Mermaid’ (2023) | Movie Review

Where to Watch: Theaters

Directed By: 

Rob Marshall 

Written By: 

David Magee, Hans Christian Andersen, Ron Clements


Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina


Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Rated PG
All media courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Disney Live-Action Remakes have run their course, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still give you something special that the original may not have been able to. That’s why I continue to hold out hope that the next inevitable rehash of Disney IP has more than just extra songs, a few big-name stars, and less of the magic we had from the first. The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s most cherished films, and while this new film makes further strides that others have in giving me something to enjoy- I want more.

First, what I love, Halle Bailey is a tidal wave of an actress, and her performance holds the entire film up. I loved her voice- I got the same chills from the original because of how haunting yet angelic it sounded. She has charisma and leads the film with poise and grace. Melissa McCarthy plays the evil tentacle-laden Ursula to perfection. She proves why she was the right choice and my fears about her over-saturating the character with her iconic sense of humor were immediately gone from her first scene.

Most if not all of the sea animal voice work worked for me- aside from a specific song towards the end led by Awkwafina’s Scuttle. Daveed Diggs was perfect for Sebastian, and his songs rocked. But sadly this is where I can’t really commend the film more than just the songs and our main performers. There are a lot of problems in this film- namely the effects. Coming from Avatar: The Way of Water to The Little Mermaids effects may not seem fair- but it’s the uncanny valley of the effects that make me wonder how much was given to the effects team to really clean it up. It’s not seamless, you can almost see the wirework. As well, I felt the relationship between Arielle and her father played by Javier Bardem was so underdeveloped that when their entire relationship arc feels forced and unearned.

Overall, children are going to easily overlook the issues I’m bringing up- but at the same time, I know these remakes are just gonna keep coming. I need them to improve, I need to start seeing Disney + trust in their writers and creators to bring in new dynamics or, dare I even say, NEW content unrelated to previous films. At the end of the day, representation matters, and I say this is still a See It because I know and have a family that needs representation on the big screen. Is it the best Disney could do? No, but this is definitely not the worst either.

About Me

Patrick Beatty is a member of the Critics Choice Association (BFCA), Hollywood Critics Association (HCA), and the Utah Film Critics Association (UFCA) and creator of PatrickBeattyReviews.com. Check out his podcast and make sure to watch Friday’s at 12:30 PM MST on ABC4 Daily Dish where he talks about the latest film and television releases of the week in a segment called ‘See it or Skip it’

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