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Be a part of her world.
―Tagline

The Little Mermaid is a 2023 American live-action musical film which is distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It is a remake of the 1989 Disney animated feature film of the same name, and based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Marc Platt produces the film. In addition to supervising the story, Miranda teams up with composer Alan Menken to re-work songs from the original and the two composed new songs for the film. It was released on May 26, 2023.

Synopsis[]

The Little Mermaid is the beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea and, while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.

Plot[]

Ariel is a teenage mermaid with an insatiable curiosity for human culture and the surface world, despite the fact she has never seen it, as her father Triton, ruler of the ocean kingdom of Atlantica, has forbidden merpeople from visiting the surface world after Ariel's mother Athena was killed by a human. Ariel finds solace in human objects she finds, with support from her friends, Flounder, a sergeant major and Scuttle, the gannet.

After having learned that Ariel was missing the Coral Moon meeting, which she was supposed to attend with her sisters, Triton scolds Ariel. Later that night, Ariel sees fireworks on the surface and decides to investigate. The fireworks come from a ship belonging to Eric, the prince of an island kingdom in the Caribbean. Ariel eavesdrops on a conversation between Eric and Prime Minister Grimsby about the former's desire to travel the world and help the people of his kingdom. A storm strikes and the crew head for the lifeboats. Eric is tossed overboard and almost drowns underwater. Ariel saves Eric from drowning, bringing him to shore, waking him with her singing voice. As Eric regains consciousness, Ariel flees. After Eric comes to, his adoptive mother Selina forbids him from sailing again.

Ariel's absent-minded behavior is commented on by her sisters, and Triton learns from his advisor, Sebastian, the crab, that Ariel visited the surface and saved a human from drowning. Triton confronts Ariel in her grotto, and when she refuses to stop visiting the surface world, he destroys her collection of treasures. As Ariel tries to stop him, Triton destroys the statue, feeling guilty. After Triton leaves, Ariel begins crying, and two eels with electric powers arrive and show Ariel a vision of the sea witch Ursula, her estranged aunt, who offers her help.

Ariel travels to Ursula's cave, where the sea witch strikes a bargain with her; she will transform Ariel into a human for three days, in which time she must receive true love's kiss from Eric; if she succeeds, she will remain human forever. If she fails, she turns back into a mermaid, and will belong to Ursula. The deal, however, comes with a price; Ariel must sacrifice her abilities to breathe underwater, her tail, and her voice, which Ursula traps inside a nautilus. Ariel accepts the deal, and her tail is transformed into legs. Flounder and Sebastian take Ariel to the surface, where a fisherman saves her, and takes her back to Eric's castle. Eric, who has been searching for the woman who saved him, rushes to meet Ariel when he hears of her arrival. Ariel is excited, but her lack of voice turns the prince away. That evening, Ariel explores the castle, and discovers Eric's collection of items from his travels, and she and the prince pore over the collection.

The next day, Ariel and Eric explore the kingdom; Sebastian has stowed away and discovers that Ursula has rigged the deal to make Ariel forget she has to kiss Eric. Sebastian, Scuttle and Flounder take it upon themselves to get the pair to kiss; they are almost successful, but Ursula sends her eels to thwart them. Enraged by the close call, Ursula transforms herself into a beautiful young woman called Vanessa, using Ariel's voice to hypnotize Eric.

The next morning, Ariel and her friends discover that Eric will be announcing his engagement to Vanessa. Scuttle discovers Vanessa's true identity and informs Ariel, who rushes to the engagement party, breaking the nautilus shell, restoring her voice and breaking Eric's enchantment. Eric finds that Ariel is the right woman for him. Ursula warns Eric to leave Ariel alone. Before the two can kiss, the sun sets, transforming Ariel back into a mermaid. While reverting to her original self, Ursula grabs Ariel with her back into the sea.

Triton confronts Ursula and orders her to release Ariel, but Ursula informs Triton that the deal Ariel made is unbreakable. Triton saves Ariel and takes her place, handing his trident to Ursula, while her eels release Ariel and disintegrate Triton. Ursula steals Triton’s crown and trident and declares herself the new ruler. Witnessing the incident, Ariel confronts Ursula and attempts to hurt and abuse her. Ursula attempts to destroy Ariel, but after arriving, Eric saves Ariel and hits Ursula with a harpoon. Not in a good side, Ursula orders her eels to capture Eric. In the skirmish, Ursula almost destroys Eric, but while not in a good side, Ariel intervenes and attacks Ursula who accidentally kills her eels. As Ariel hurries to join Eric, Ursula shortly mourns the loss and deaths of her eels. In a fit of rage, Ursula uses the trident to transform herself into a giant sea monster, creating a thunderstorm to threaten Ariel and Eric; a shipwreck is brought to the surface. At the midst, Ursula attempts use the trident to kill Eric, but fails. After pulling herself on the shipwreck, Ariel kills Ursula with its bowsprit. When Ursula dies, the trident she leaves behind sinks into the ocean and hits the sea floor, reviving Triton back to life. Ariel picks up Triton’s trident and hands it back to Triton, who now reclaims it. Triton and Ariel recognize the other's sacrifice for them. Eric returns home, where Selina acknowledges his love for Ariel was real.

Triton eventually accepts that although Ariel is home, she will not be happy without Eric. At the request of Sebastian, after transforming her back into a human permanently, Triton sends Ariel to Eric. After Eric and Ariel marry, the two decide to travel the world together, with the support of their respective families and the people of the human and mer-world.

Cast[]

  • Halle Bailey as Ariel
  • Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric
  • Jacob Tremblay as Flounder
  • Daveed Diggs as Sebastian
  • Awkwafina as Scuttle
  • Javier Bardem as King Triton
  • Melissa McCarthy as Ursula
    • Jessica Alexander as Vanessa
  • Art Malik as Grimsby
  • Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina
  • Karolina Conchet as Mala
  • Kajsa Mohammar as Karina
  • Simone Ashley as Indira
  • Lorena Andrea as Perla
  • Sienna King as Tamika
  • Nathalie Sorrell as Caspia
  • Emily Coates as Rosa
  • Jude Akuwudike as Joshua
  • John Dagelish as Mulligan
  • Martina Laird as Lashana
  • Christopher Fairbank as Hawkins
  • Jodi Benson as Market Vendor
  • Russell Balogh as Triton Guard #1
  • Adrian Christopher as Triton Guard #2

Music[]

Main article: The Little Mermaid (2023 soundtrack)

In May 2016, Disney announced that a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was in development, with Menken and Miranda attached to write new songs for the film. Menken stated that he and Miranda would "expand on the material that's there" and "create something that feels like it was part of the whole fabric of what we did originally". In July 2019, Menken confirmed that he had completed recording the score and songs for the film with Miranda. He said that the music was "very faithful" to the original film, but also "expanded and reimagined". He added that Miranda was "a joy to work with" and "a great collaborator".

Reception[]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of 309 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website's consensus reads: "With Halle Bailey making a major splash in the title role, Disney's live-action Little Mermaid ranks among the studio's most enjoyable reimaginings." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 59 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Differences from the 1989 film[]

  • Ariel has vibrant red hair and fair white skin in the 1989 film, while she has more natural red hair that is in locks and black skin in this film.
  • Ursula is King Triton’s sister in this film, making her Ariel's paternal aunt. In the original, Ursula was not related to Triton in any way.
    • The plotline of King Triton and Ursula being siblings is a deleted concept from the animated film. It was first used in the musical adaptation.
  • Scuttle is a female northern gannet (a type of diving bird), instead of a male seagull. Scuttle is also able to breathe underwater.
  • Flotsam and Jetsam are now electric eels instead of moray eels. In addition, they do not have any speaking dialogue unlike in the original animated film.
  • Queen Selina is a new character, who appears in the remake and is Eric's adoptive mother.
  • Chef Louis is not featured in the remake.
  • The Seahorse Herald is also absent.
  • Carlotta is now named Lashana.
  • Snarfblatt references are not used in the remake due to Disney enforcing a ban on smoking and drugs in 2007.
  • Flounder is a teenage yellow and blue fish instead of a young male sergeant major.
  • In the original, Ariel’s age is stated that she’s 16 years old. In this film, Ariel’s age is stated to be 18 years old, (which is the age when one becomes an adult), but she is still a teenager, as confirmed by Sebastian.
  • In the original, Eric is 18 years old. In this film, he is 21 years old.
  • Three new songs are introduced in the remake.
    • "For the First Time" by Ariel.
    • "Wild Uncharted Waters" by Prince Eric.
    • "The Scuttlebutt" by Scuttle and Sebastian.
    • Additionally, another song called "Impossible Child" was written for the film, but it did not make the final cut.
    • The song "Daughters of Triton" from the animated film is not featured in the remake.
    • Furthermore, the song "Les Poissons" from the animated film also is not featured in the remake.
    • There are no songs that originated from the musical adaptation of the film in the remake, not even the deleted song "Silence is Golden", which was cut from the original film.
  • Ariel's sisters have different names in this film; Mala, Karina, Indira, Caspia, Perla, and Tamika.
    • Instead of their names all starting and ending with A, all of their names just end with A, except for Ariel.
    • In the original film, the sisters all live in Atlantica. In the remake, all the sisters aside from Ariel live in separate kingdoms, but they all get together during the "Coral Moon Festival".
  • Ursula has 8 tentacles, similar to common cephalopods, rather than six.
  • Ursula's eyeshadow is blue in the original animated film, however, in the remake, her eyeshadow is green.
  • King Triton wears body armor in the remake, rather than having his bare chest being shown completely.
  • The song "Fathoms Below" plays during Eric's birthday rather than being sung at the beginning of the film.
  • The beginning of the film includes a quote said by Hans Christian Andersen (author of the original Little Mermaid) which reads, "But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more." There is no scene with a quote by said author in the original film.
  • Ariel in this version is more loyal to the rules against going up to the surface than the one in the original, but she still maintains her curiosity.
  • Sebastian's concert from the original is replaced with a Coral Moon meeting for the remake.
  • During the chase scene at the sunken ship, Flounder gets stuck on the sea floor, unable to move while Glut continues chasing Ariel who drops a barrel on him, unlike in the original film.
    • In that same scene, Glut crashes into a mirror where he gets trapped instead of being trapped into an anchor. Additionally, the part where Flounder taunts him is omitted.
  • During the first reprise of "Part of Your World", a group of guards from Prince Eric's castle rushes towards the beach to find Eric to make sure he is safe, and Ariel retreats from the guards. This did not occur in the original film, where only Grimsby and Max find Eric.
  • Sebastian tells Scuttle to keep Ariel's first encounter and being in love with Eric a secret, whereas in the original film, he says this to Flounder.
  • A lot of changes during the "Under the Sea" sequence:
    • Ariel does not sing this song in the original film, but in the remake, she does. This had also occurred in the 2019 television special.
    • Unlike in the original film, Flounder does not appear during the sequence.
    • During the first verse, Sebastian leaps onto a rock to reveal a school of fish for them to swim around Ariel. In the original film, there was a school of fish swimming around Ariel from a distance.
    • A group of seahorses swims around Ariel during the first verse in this film. In the original film, seahorses do not appear until during the second verse when they swim around her.
    • Ariel and Sebastian sing the parts that were originally sung by other sea creatures from the original film. Additionally, Sebastian sings the second verse all by himself instead of with other sea creatures like he does in the original film.
    • During the second verse, Ariel swims with a pod of dolphins, rides on an octopus across the reef, and later dismounts out of it when she arrives at a forest of pink jellyfish. She later encounters sea turtles crawling on the sand, followed by manatees, brittle stars, and a pufferfish inflating itself. In the original film, the scenes from said verse include Sebastian encountering a lobster playing with clams he uses as steel drums, a dolphin swimming by, a large fish placed on a flat coral during the verse about fish feeling uncomfortable on land, followed by seahorses swimming around Ariel, Sebastian placing fishing hooks inside a clam's mouth which suddenly spits them out, and various other creatures singing and playing musical instruments.
    • During the instrumental part, various sea creatures (such as sea lilies, flying gurnards, limpets, Spanish dancers, mimic octopuses, ribbon eels, and more species of jellyfish) take part in dancing with Ariel and later during the final verse, unlike in the original film where Ariel escapes with help from Flounder.
    • The sea creatures do not use instruments during the musical number in this film, unlike in the original film.
  • When Triton destroys the statue of Eric in Ariel's grotto and then Ariel cries over the destruction her father did and during the part where Ariel cries, she is seen holding one of the hands from the destroyed statue of Eric, unlike in the original film where she holds the face of the destroyed statue.
  • When Ariel becomes human for the first time, Sebastian and Flounder get her aboard a fisherman's boat, and the fisherman gets her dressed and takes her to the castle. In the original movie, Ariel is taken to the beach and dressed in a sail by Scuttle before being found by Eric and Max, and taken back to the castle by Eric personally.
    • Also during this scene, Ariel's private parts aren't shown, just her bare legs.
  • The songs "Kiss the Girl" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" have their lyrics modified in the remake to include consent and female empowerment.
  • Ariel initially turns down Ursula's deal stating that it wasn't right in the remake while Ariel is only concerned about how is she able to communicate without her voice in the original.
  • In the original, Ariel signs the contract by writing her signature on glowing paper. In the remake, one of her mermaid scales was removed as a part of making a deal with Ursula, and one of Ariel's scales was still missing (as evidenced by her bleeding tail wound) when transforming back.
  • Unlike the original animated film, Sebastian's arms and claws are not the same sizes, with his right arm being bigger and the left being smaller.
  • In the song of "Poor Unfortunate Souls", Ursula's iconic dialogue "You'll have your looks! Your pretty face! And don't underestimate the importance of body language! Ha!" was cut in the remake.
  • Ariel doesn't wear her signature pink gown in this film.
  • Eric and Vanessa don't wear their black cloaks in this film.
  • Vanessa doesn't wear her signature wedding gown in this film.
  • Scuttle discovers Ursula disguised as Vanessa in her bedroom in this film. In the original movie, Scuttle discovers Ursula's disguise as Vanessa in a dressing room on the ship during the wedding ceremony.
  • Ariel and Vanessa catfight in this film.
  • In the original film, Scuttle rallied some nearby ocean and lagoon creatures to attack Vanessa and crash the wedding. But in this film, only Scuttle attacks Vanessa and Grimsby was kicking the engagement ring.
  • Ariel was the one who grabbed and broke Ursula's seashell necklace instead of Scuttle.
  • In the original animated film, Max the Dog bites Vanessa's bottom. However, Max doesn't bite Vanessa at all in the remake.
  • Ariel kills Ursula instead of Eric in this film.
    • This plotline was originally used in the musical adaptation of the animated film (Ariel kills Ursula by destroying Ursula's magic shell).
  • Ursula kills King Triton in the film instead of turning him into a polyp, although he is brought back to life after her death.
  • Ursula kills those who made a deal with her in this film.
  • During the final battle, Flotsam and Jetsam dragged and attempted to drown Eric, however in the original animated film, Sebastian pinches Flotsam and Flounder slaps Jetsam, but Sebastian and Flounder do not attack the two in the remake.
  • In this film, the merpeople that were turned into polyps in Ursula's garden have one eye, unlike in the original film where they are depicted as having two eyes.
    • Additionally, a skeleton of a mermaid/merman appears during the part where Ariel follows Flotsam and Jetsam into Ursula's lair, which does not appear in the original film.
  • Triton despises humans due to one killing the Queen which was used in the prequel.
    • Also, in the original film, it's ambiguous as to what Ariel's sisters think of humans; in this film, they share Triton's prejudiced attitudes towards the human race.
  • After Ariel is reunited with Eric after turning back into a human, it does not immediately cut to their wedding unlike the original. It extends by showing Eric proposing to her and going off to travel abroad following their marriage.
  • In the finale, Ariel doesn't wear a wedding veil while marrying Prince Eric.
    • In the same scene, an instrumental version of "Part of Your World" plays instead of being sung by an offscreen choir.
  • Sebastian is not a composer and songwriter in this film, instead he is Triton's majordomo and advisor.

Videos[]

Gallery[]

Trivia[]

  • The film was originally supposed to be released in 2020, but was delayed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This film’s running time is far much longer than the original 1989 animated film.
  • This is the second Disney live-action remake to be released in 2023, after Peter Pan & Wendy.
    • Coincidentally, both films have mermaids and ships in it.
  • This is the fourth collaboration between Rob Marshall and Disney after Marshall previously directed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Into the Woods, and Mary Poppins Returns.
  • This is the sixth Disney Princess remake, after Maleficent, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Mulan.
    • This is also the fifth movie from the Disney Renaissance to be remade.
      • This is also the second Disney Princess remake to be released in the 2020s, after Mulan in 2020.
  • This is the third live-action Disney remake to use the normal version of the Disney logo, after Dumbo and Peter Pan & Wendy. It is also the second in this case to use the 2022 Disney logo, after the latter.
  • This is the first live-action Disney film to have the closing theme of the film play during the short version of the closing Disney logo since Million Dollar Arm.
  • This is Melissa McCarthy's first role for a Disney film since she played the Sky King waitress in The Kid.
  • This is Noma Dumezweni's second role for a Disney film and her second collaboration with Rob Marshall.
    • She portrayed Penny Farthing in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • This is the third Disney film that Lin-Manuel Miranda has written songs for after Moana and Encanto.
    • This is the second Disney Princess film that Lin-Manuel Miranda has written songs for.
    • He also co-starred in Mary Poppins Returns, which also makes this his second collaboration with Rob Marshall on a Disney film.
  • Due to Pinocchio and Peter Pan & Wendy being switched to Disney+ releases, this is the first exclusive theatrically-released live-action film based off of a Disney Animated Canon movie since Cruella.
  • This is the first The Little Mermaid movie to be produced in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The other two were produced in 1.85:1.
  • This is the first ever Disney theatrical live-action remake to use the new 2022 on-screen logo, as Peter Pan & Wendy is a Disney+ Original.
  • Due to Artemis Fowl being switched to a Disney+ exclusive release (following the COVID-19 pandemic), this is the first exclusive theatrically-released Disney live-action film to receive a PG rating from the MPAA since Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
  • Jodi Benson (Ariel's original voice actor) has a cameo in the tour of kingdom scene as a market vendor. Thus, this is the first time Benson has collaborated in a production related to The Little Mermaid without playing the titular character, after The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live!
    • This is also the second live-action Disney film of the 2020s to feature a cameo from someone who portrayed a character in the original film or medium preceding it, after Disenchanted, in which Rachel Convoy (who portrayed Morgan Philip in the film's predecesor, Enchanted) made a cameo as a villager in Monroelasia.
  • This is Awkwafina's second voice role for a Disney film after voicing Sisu in Raya and the Last Dragon.
    • It is also her second role for a Disney Princess film.
    • In addition, Scuttle is voiced by Kim Ok-gyeong in the Korean version of this film, who also voiced Sisu.
  • This is the second Disney Princess film to feature a catfight after Raya and the Last Dragon, with Raya and Namaari. This time, it features Ariel fighting Vanessa.
  • This is Jacob Tremblay's second voice role for a Disney film after voicing Luca Paguro in Pixar's Luca.
  • Ursula states that she has been banished from Triton's kingdom for 15 years. This is a likely in-joke to the 15 year gap between the remake and the original film's prequel, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning.
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