Prepare your fake mermaid tails and test your singing voices because Disney is finally taking us under the sea. Adding another movie to their remake collection, Disney is giving The Little Mermaid a new life with a live-action film that embraces the old classic story but gives it a new twist to make it more adaptable to our new world.
Most of Disney’s past live-action remakes did not garner a favourable reaction from audiences, mostly because people felt like they had nothing new to say and, therefore, no reason to make the films at all. With The Little Mermaid, Disney is taking a new route: changing parts of the story, rewriting some of the songs, and even giving Ariel a whole new look to give more little girls a new role model to look up to.
So what exactly changed in the new adaption, and what should you expect as a Little Mermaid fan? Keep reading as we deep dive into the plot changes, the song changes, the brand new shinning cast and more!
The Old Vs. New Story
Sacrificing your voice to chase a man you don’t know in a strange place? Disney said nope, we are not doing that again! Before we get into the multiple changes Disney made to their classic tale, let’s quickly summarise the original story of Disney’s 1989 animated classic, The Little Mermaid.
Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton, is obsessed with the surface world. Even though she lives as a princess in the sea where her father rules, Ariel is not satisfied and is dying to get the chance to explore the world above and be part of that world. But obviously, there is a problem: Ariel is a mermaid and has a tail instead of legs.
So to fix her dilemma, Ariel makes a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula. Ursula tells Ariel that she will make her human for three days, but before the third day is done, Ariel must get a true loves kiss from Prince Eric to keep her human form, and if she doesn’t, she’ll turn back into a mermaid and will belong to Ursula forever. As a temporary price for the legs, Ariel must also lose her voice and make Prince Eric fall in love with her without talking.
As part of the modern audience, you can probably already see the faults of this plot. Even though it was fine in 1989, values, opinions and the way we raise young girls have changed over the last two decades. The writer of the new The Little Mermaid adaption said that with the new version, they want to give young girls a better role model in Ariel. So, the first change they made was to make Ariel’s interest in exploring the world above more prominent to her decision to trade her voice for a pair of legs than her baseless crush on Prince Eric.
Even Ariel’s relationship with Prince Eric is getting an update. In the original story, Ariel sees Prince Eric once and decides to upend her entire life to go find him. However, in the new adaption, Ariel and Prince Eric will have more time to get to know each other and build a friendship that can naturally bloom into a beautiful love story. Jonah Hauer-King, who plays Prince Eric, said during a press conference that “it’s a really good message for what it means to be in love, and what it means to be in a relationship that is ultimately tied to friendship. That’s the fundamental thing of it, and that’s why it lasts, and that’s what makes it special.”
Disney made sure to let audiences know that the changes they made would only make the classic tale even more relevant in today’s world and that old and new fans alike would love it. You can find out if that is true right away because the movie is already out in theatres worldwide!
The Classic Soundtrack
The Little Mermaid has one of the most beloved Disney soundtracks of all time. Classics such as ‘’Part of Your World’’ and ‘’Under the Sea’’ have proven to withstand the test of time. However, unfortunately, other songs, such as “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, did not. But because these songs are such an integral part of The Little Mermaid story, Disney did not scarp them; however, it gave them a little update.
Songwriter Lin-Manual Miranda, who previously worked on Disney’s Moana, has written a few lyrical changes to “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. If you want to know the new lyrics by heart before you see the movie, then make sure to listen to the official soundtrack, which is available on all streaming services.
In the old version of “Kiss the Girl”, Prince Eric is encouraged to kiss Ariel even though she never asked him to. It’s hinted that her silence —which is a side effect of Ursula’s spell— is a sign that she likes him and won’t mind being kissed. In this day and age, we try to teach boys and girls about consent and that the absence of a clear ‘’yes’’ means ‘’no’’. Taking that in mind, Songwriter Lin-Manual Miranda gave “Kiss the Girl” the update it desperately needs.
“Poor Unfortunate Souls” also has similar themes encouraging Ariel to stay silent and telling her that girls who don’t talk much are the ones who get the man they want. Since these are not the kind of messages anyone wants to send to little girls nowadays, the lyrics to the song will also be updated with a more positive message.
The New Shining Cast
Probably the most talked about part of any new Disney adaptation is who is playing whom. Since the old film was animated, the whole cast was a voice cast, and they did a fantastic job. But this time, we get to see these beloved characters portrayed by real-life actors, and Disney does not disappoint with their choices. The title character Ariel will be played by Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy will be playing Ursula, Daveed Diggs playing Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay playing Flounder, Aquafina playing Scuttle and Jonah Hauer-King playing Prince Eric. Let’s get to know each one of these amazing actors more!
Disney’s decision to cast Halle Bailey as Ariel has opened some conversations. In a mission to give more little girls role models that look like them, Disney cast the talented Halle Bailey as their new Princess Ariel making her the first black woman to play a Disney princess in live-action.
Halle was born in 2000 and is part of the musical duo ChloexHalle. She has also played a main character in Freeform’s Grown-ish from 2018 to 2022. According to director Rob Marshall, after Halle sang “Part of Your World” during her audition to play Ariel, he knew for a fact that no one else could portray Ariel better than her.
Melissa McCarthy barely needs an introduction. She is a two-times Emmy Award Winner and a well-seasoned comedian and actress who has multiple successful movies under her belt. Some of her most successful projects have been Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013) and Identity Theif (2013).
Melissa is playing Ursula, the sea witch. In an interview about her portrayal of Ursula, Melissa said that she was greatly inspired by Drag Queens in her delivery and looks and that playing the evil character is always a fun experience.
Jonah Hauer-King is an English actor who starred in multiple British miniseries such as Howard’s End and Little Women. The Little Mermaid will be his first blockbuster movie and second American film after A Dog’s Way Home in 2019.
According to Jonah, he auditioned for The Little Mermaid, not thinking he would get the role. But eventually, he beat out stars like Harry Styles, landing the role of Prince Eric. Jonah said the role required him to do a lot of vocal training as well as learn to ride horses, scuba dive and operate a carriage.
Daveed Diggs rose to fame with his role as Lafayette in the sensational Broadway musical Hamilton. He is a triple threat who can act, sing and dance and is a perfect choice to play Sebastian, Ariel’s trusted friend and advisor.
Even though Daveed is an excellent singer (go listen to the Hamilton soundtrack), in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, he revealed that being entrusted with iconic songs such as “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl” was equally terrifying and exciting.
Jacob Tremblay is a Canadian actor who was born in 2006. He starred in multiple movies, including Good Boys (2019), Wonder (2017) and Room (2015) alongside Brie Larson, for which he was the youngest person to be nominated for a SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role.
Jacob recorded his parts as Flounder before the pandemic, and in an interview, he said he feels lucky to have done it before he hit puberty because it would have been much harder to hit the high notes with his grown-up voice.
Nora Lum or better known by her stage name Aquafina is an American actress, rapper and comedian. She has starred in multiple projects, including Crazy Rich Asians (2018), The Farwell (2019) and Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).
In her interview with Entertainment Tonight, Aquafina talked about how much she loved Scuttle as a child and how excited she was to get to voice him in the new adaptation. She was also thankful to director Rob Marshall for letting her improv some of Scuttle’s lines.
The Audience’s Verdict
Unfortunately, due to what some would call the ‘’racism tax’’, The Little Mermaid has been subjected to a lot of negative online reviews from bots because of Halle Baily, a black woman, playing the titular role. However, do not let that steer you away from the movie because The Little Mermaid has a whooping 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences have said that it is the best live-action adaptation they have seen from Disney so far and that Halle Bailey does an incredible job as Ariel with her angelic voice and superb acting.
Halle’s Ariel is easily the best thing about the movie, but it’s only fair to mention that almost the entire cast embodies their roles perfectly and channels their inner Disney characters in a way we’ve never seen before with live-action. Every single song hits that sweet spot, and I might have cheered once or twice watching the movie because of how in awe I was of Halle Bailey!
The Little Mermaid has officially passed the total earnings of the original animated movie, making $200 million worldwide in its first week of release. Currently, the movie made over $400 million worldwide with great audience reviews and popularity among families. It’s looking good for our beloved Princess Ariel.
Frequently asked questions
If you have questions about The Little Mermaid, check out these frequently asked questions by audiences and people interested in the movie. You might find the answer you’re looking for right here!
Is The Little Mermaid coming in 2023?
Yes, The Little Mermaid has already been released on May 26, 2023. You can catch it in all the major theatres around you. Make sure you take your family and friends as it is a highly recommended movie.
How old is Ariel in The Little Mermaid 2023?
Ariel’s age is not explicitly specified in The Little Mermaid movie; however, in Disney’s early production notes, she has been described as a “spirited 18-year-old”.
Is The Little Mermaid a children’s movie?
The Little Mermaid is rated PG by the MPAA, which means it is suitable for children aged 10 years old and older under parent supervision. The movie has some action sequences and scary images that might be uncomfortable for children younger than 10.
How old is the original Little Mermaid movie?
The original animated version of The Little Mermaid was released by Disney in November 1989, which makes it almost 34 years old this year. It garnered great critical acclaim and commercial success as it made around $235 million worldwide.
To read more about the film’s shooting locations and where the movie magic happened in our real world, go to ConnollyCove.