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The Little Mermaid is yet another overlong, superfluous live-action re-imagining that might add a splash of diversity but skimps on the charms that made the 1989 Disney animation original a classic.

Trust me, I want the movie remakes Disney churns out at a rapid pace to be good entertainment. But somehow nearly all of them make me wonder why they exist in the first place. The Little Mermaid is no exception to that rule.

The movie slavishly follows the narrative of the animated feature made nearly 35 years ago but expands nearly every scene (and adds a few) so you're left with an indulgent picture that is severely lacking in tempo.

On top of that the CGI sea world looks horribly manufactured: there is not a single scene that doesn't feels like it takes place on a cold, charmless green-screen soundstage. Even the Oscar-winning tunes don't manage to put a smile on your face due to their overproduced recording.

As for the cast, the only one who seems to be truly enjoying herself is baddie Melissa McCarthy (she has an ace singing voice as well). Halle Bailey is bland in the lead role and Javier Bardem utterly wasted as King Triton. Whether the much-tauted but often distracting diversity in the movie is a success is another matter for debate. Making prince Eric an adoptive son just so a black actress can play his mom feels awfully forced for example.

But the most disheartening thing about The Little Mermaid is that it made a decent chunk of money at the box office. Which probably means that Disney will keep on producing these soulless remakes for years to come.

release: 2023

director: Rob Marshall

starring: Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King, Javier Bardem


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