“You will never find your place in the world by being like everyone else.” - S.C Lourie
Warning: I rant about things for the first three paragraphs. If your point here is to read about what The Little Mermaid is like, I’d skip to the fourth (4) paragraph and go from there. Just a heads up I guess.
I should take the high road here. I should ignore all of the pointless racism and delicate egos shattered by a goddamn cartoon turned live-action but they didn’t let it go, why should I? You could say that if I take the same road I’m no different but I would have to disagree. The road might be adjacent but it’s headed down a separate path that takes their stupidity and I can’t stress this enough, their racism, and shoves it back down their bigoted throats where it belongs, hopefully choking them to death. (Fingers crossed)
So here it goes. This will be a movie that will be judged by the controversy surrounding it rather than by its own merits. The saddest part is it’s far from the only one. It’s simply joining an all too long list of movies that were judged and thrown aside long before anyone even saw the damn thing. In this case, it all started with a young, beautiful black woman by the name of Halle Bailey being cast as Ariel, The Little Mermaid. That’s it. Of course rooted in their racism is cowardice and so they can never admit to the truth behind their fake outrage.
There’s nothing you can do to convince me that a bunch of supposedly grown, middle-aged white men genuinely give a shit about a thirty-four year old cartoon being cast for a live-action remake with someone that doesn’t exactly resemble the cartoon version. Notice the outrage itself; it’s all about her casting. Where’s the outrage over King Triton being played by Javier Bardem? There isn’t any. Okay so by that logic maybe it’s not racism. If that’s the case then it’s sexism. Take your pick. “It’s woke! That’s what it is.” What does that even mean? I’m serious. Someone explain it to me. Because from my perspective it seems like acceptance is starting to have its time in the sun and the opposite is being called out like never before and certain deliKKKate souls aren’t feeling so safe these days. Let me say this as clearly as I can: No one feels sorry for you. No one cares about your feigned outrage. By the way, feigned means insincere or fake. I know I might have lost some of you there. Anyway, enough of that bullshit. On to the movie which I have actually seen.
(4) Any apprehension I had toward this movie before seeing it lied solely on the fact that every live-action Disney remake after Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book has been everything from generic and forgettable to downright abysmal. None of it has worked and so my doubts going into this I think were well founded. I wish I could say this time around it’s different and Disney has a modern classic on their hands but reality isn’t that forgiving unfortunately.
By no means is this something I’d call a failure but to find the justification in remaking it I can’t really find any reason. Its best aspects are the moments that call back to the cartoon version so why waste my time with something that isn’t the original? At an estimated budget of $200 million I’m not so sure it was worth it. What will end up happening is they’ll lose money on it and then mysteriously and completely unrelated to that loss, the price of admission to their theme parks will “randomly” go up. For no reason. No reason at all. Or it’ll make a billion and the admission prices will go up anyway cause screw us is apparently Disney’s long running motto when it concerns their bottom line. (I’m kind of bitter at the moment. Forgive me.)
Halle Bailey is its greatest strength. Her beauty is apparent but it’s in the moments when she’s belting out a tune that this remake shines the brightest. Her voice is massive and even as someone who didn’t have a lot of interest in seeing this movie, I couldn’t help but be enamored by her amazing vocal talents. She is a star in the making. I can say that much confidently. And that’s where it kind of loses steam. Beyond her skills as a singer and viable actor no one contributes anything of note. Daveed Diggs as the voice of Sebastian is funny at times but still mostly unremarkable. And that’s basically the theme of the entire movie. Beyond Bailey it’s all just kind of middle-of-the-road. It’s forgettable. I can’t even say that anyone is really terrible and therefore memorable for all the wrong reasons. It’s just about the safest remake I’ve ever seen.
From a visual standpoint it’s during the song Part of Your World where life beneath the surface truly comes alive. It’s quite a wonderful sequence actually. But then it dips back into mediocrity all over again and rarely comes back up for air. The rest feels like the darkest depths of the sea and in the case of moments above the water it’s not much more interesting visually. I guess you could say it’s consistent across the board and hey, that’s something.
Melissa McCarthy as Ursula is surprisingly a lot of fun. I’ve always thought of her as a one trick pony and here it really feels like she’s making the effort to branch out beyond the comedy trope of “fat lady is clumsy and falls down” that she so often turns to for, I don’t know, 90% of her roles. As Ursula she is wild and humorously evil as the jealous sea witch. She brings a playfulness to the darker moments of the story. See, she’s evil but at least she can laugh about it.
The Little Mermaid remake is unexceptional in just about every way. Bailey is wonderful but even her talents are subdued as her character famously loses her most unique and wonderful ability. Visually it’s what you would expect from one of Disney’s numerous, tedious live-action remakes. For the families out there I think this will be a fun, albeit forgettable weekend at the movie theater. Get some popcorn, buy a drink and have fun for a couple of hours. Beyond that you might be expecting too much.
Rated PG For: action/peril and some scary images
Runtime: 135 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Halle Bailey, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King
Directed By: Rob Marshall
Out of 10
Story: 5/ Acting: 8/ Directing: 7/ Visuals: 6.5
Buy to Own: No.
Check out the trailer below: