Disney’s 2023 ‘The Little Mermaid’ Everything It Needs To Be

Denise DeLeon, Copy Editor

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. All images courtesy ©Disney for editorial use only.

From “Under the Sea” to making waves on the big screen, Halle Bailey conquers the box office as Disney’s 2023 live-action film remake “The Little Mermaid” debuted Memorial Day weekend. Princess Ariel, Flounder the fish, and Sebastian the crab have returned to theaters with the classic story and made a big splash in people’s hearts. The live action film caused quite the tsunami with box office numbers continuing to reach over $100 million globally. 

Halle Bailey stars as Princess Ariel, a mermaid feeling trapped in the sea, craving for life on land and who’s willing to do anything to get it. Despite the controversy when news broke about Halle Bailey playing Ariel, Bailey rose to the occasion, superseding expectations. The film has shown the vocal talents of Halle Bailey, and it was no surprise. She was born to play Ariel. The musicality in the film is a definite treat for the ears and the heart, with classics like “Under the Sea” and the amazing performance by Bailey singing “Part of your World”. This live-action film debuts three new songs including a solo performance from Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric singing “Wild Uncharted Waters”. The song really builds the love story between Princess Ariel and Prince Eric. 

Even with all the musical talents, it wasn’t hard to see the changes that were made from the 1989 animated movie. A controversy has been brewing from the original Disney film with regards to the lyrics in the movie’s track “Kiss the Girl”. Concerns of consent presented itself recently which prompted a subtle yet noticeable change that every true Disney fan will hear. Sebastian the crab, played by Daveed Diggs, begins his song by setting a romantic mood, just the same as the original film, to coerce Prince Eric to “kiss the girl” to restore Ariel’s voice and keep her in human form. However, the original song suggests Prince Eric to just kiss the girl while the remake, Sebastian encourages Prince Eric to “use your words and ask her”. Some may find the change necessary and others think it seems a bit ridiculous. Either way, a small change in lyrics doesn’t change the impact of the movie.

Disney's "The Little Mermaid". All images courtesy ©Disney for editorial use only.
Disney’s “The Little Mermaid“. All images courtesy ©Disney for editorial use only.

Seeing a cartoon favorite brought to life made more action-packed adventure. One scene sees Ariel first lay her eyes on Prince Eric was replicated in the film. As a cartoon, the scene is adorably animated, where in the live-action there was almost a sense of suspense. Other significant changes may trigger viewers, such as Flounder’s more realistic look (spoiler: he’s not cute and fat) or the part when viewers realize Scuttlebutt isn’t a seagull. The minor changes mean nothing when other questions are answered that were missing from the original, like why King Triton had such an issue with humans and the origin of Ursula’s big grab for power.

Melissa McCarthy also delivered in her performance as the wicked sea witch Ursula, showing her own musical talents when she performed the iconic classic “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. It was a pleasant surprise to see McCarthy in this element, as she typically takes a comedic stance in her films. The versatility truly shows McCarthy’s ability to deliver a great performance, regardless of the role. 

Now that the film has made its big debut, Halle Bailey takes the crown, winning in every aspect as an actress. Bailey is not new to fame considering her and her sister Chloe’s tremendous voices were discovered by the Queen B, Beyonce, herself. However, Bailey admitted how nervous she’s been from auditions to filming. The iconic hair flip scene from the original pained Bailey, as it took about 20 takes to perfect. Every hurdle is proving to be worth it. Bailey is overjoyed by the love and support she has received from communities all across the world who feel her role as Ariel is exactly what society needs. Representation matters and Halle Bailey definitely represented. The film is an absolute must-see.   

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”. All images courtesy ©Disney for editorial use only.