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‘The Little Mermaid’ Is Controversial but Didactic

Disney has always been a great storyteller, and this is no different.
July 20, 2023
6:02 pm

Disney has worked its magic and captured our hearts once again. Prior to the release of The Little Mermaid in 2023, there was significant criticism surrounding Disney’s choice of casting Halle Bailey as Ariel. Many of the complaints stemmed from the fact that Halle, being of African-American origin, differed from the original white portrayal of Ariel.


However, Disney proved the skeptics wrong with a remarkably well-executed film. Unlike other Disney remakes, The Little Mermaid stayed remarkably faithful to the 1989 animated version. While there were a few minor alterations, such as King Triton’s seven daughters representing the seven seas, hence their diverse skin tones, and the inclusion of new songs and breathtaking scenes, the overall essence remained intact.


Imagine ships, weathered and tossed about amidst hues of mauve and steel gray waves. Glimmers of light filter through the ocean’s depths, reminiscent of a seaside Jane Eyre enthusiast’s escapist paradise. Precise and polished, dancing crustaceans dazzle in synchronized harmony, evoking classic Busby Berkeley glamour. Additionally, we encounter cheerful everyday tropical islanders living their vibrant lives, with colorful confetti and the sweet aroma of papaya.


Melissa McCarthy in Little Mermaid

The casting of this movie was nothing short of brilliance! Halle Bailey flawlessly portrays Ariel, and it seemed as if the role was tailor-made for her. Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Ursula showed little deviation from the iconic 1989 rendition. She embodied the character with remarkable precision, showcasing exceptional acting skills. Jonah Hauer-King, who played Prince Eric, won over our hearts with his quest for true love. Javier Bardem, in the role of King Triton, exuded a commanding presence and tone that made him an impeccable choice.


Also, Daveed Diggs portrayed everyone’s favorite crustacean, Sebastian, and his rendition of the beloved “Under the Sea” song truly captured our hearts. The incomparable Awkwafina took on the role of the delightfully silly and awkward Scuttle, and her performance was an absolute delight. Additionally, the film introduced new characters, including Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina, Prince Eric’s mother, and Simone Ashley, who made a brief appearance as one of Ariel’s sisters, Indira.


The CGI in the film was truly phenomenal! That is the only word that can aptly describe it. It transported us to the depths of the sea, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the atmospheric wonders of an underwater world. Director Rob Marshall undeniably did an excellent job in bringing this vision to life.


The Little Mermaid has always taught us to pursue our dreams, but this rendition takes the notion of “being heard” to a whole new level. King Triton’s historically stern treatment of his daughter, neglecting to truly listen to her, leads her to make a fateful deal with the devil, and the rest, as they say, is history. It also teaches us to let people grow and also letting them go. It also admonishes us to walk through our feelings.


This movie is definitely a must-watch for both loved ones and family alike.



Date released: May 26, 2023

Runtime: 2 hours 15 minutes

Platform: Cinema release

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Halle Bailey, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina

TNR Scorecard:


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