The Little Mermaid review: “a spectacle with its own allure and vitality”

There is a logic to the collapse of live action and animation. Even the half-humans are played by actors while everyone else is animated, including Ariel’s friends Scuttle the bird (voiced by Awkwafina, who got too few funny lines) and Flounder (Jacob Tremblay in a functional role). But if we had seen Diggs sing and dance.

Melissa McCarthy plays the sea witch Ursula with wicked glee, but she’s constantly overwhelmed by lights, her own flapping tentacles, and other special effects, especially when she offers Ariel the deal: grow legs, go above the sea, and make Eric fall in love. with him, but without sound. Bailey makes her relationship with Eric real without dialogue, and Hauer-King gives Eric, a prince with a social conscience, enough character to be more than the usual boring Disney dreamboat.

Alan Menken’s original songs, with lyrics written by the late Howard Ashman, are mostly intact, and the minor changes are hardly noticeable improvements. Kiss the Girl now says “Just ask her” instead of suggesting that Eric go in for the kiss, and Ursula’s Poor Unfortunate Souls no longer suggests that men prefer women who can’t speak (that despite the fact that the film takes place in the 19th century). ). However, Menken’s three new songs with lyrics by Lin Manuel-Miranda do not begin to measure up. The Scuttlebutt rap that Awkwafina and Sebastian sing isn’t great, but at least it avoids the blandness of Eric Wild’s Uncharted Waters and Ariel For the First Time.

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In true superhero fashion, the film feels padded. A beach dance scene and Eric and Ariel’s car ride stretch the running time to two hours and 15 minutes. In another unnecessary touch, Eric’s mother, the Queen (Noma Dumezweni), delivers a final, blunt message of unity, saying that the worlds of sea and land must live in harmony. The film’s diverse cast has already highlighted the unity and that speaks volumes. However, the little mermaid mostly avoids preaching. It remains what it always was: a charming, escapist fairy tale.


The Little Mermaid will be released on May 26.

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