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My Review of Disney’s Live Action “The Little Mermaid”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

If you know anything about me, you know how much I love The Little Mermaid

When I was a kid, I used to scream “Under the Sea” at the top of my lungs while swimming with my siblings, pretending to be a mermaid, and perched on the top of the concrete in an attempt to recreate Ariel’s iconic splash rock moment. One of the most memorable moments of my childhood was when I went to Disney World for the first time and got to see Ariel in person. My dad had taken me to Ariel’s Grove and I will never forget waiting in the audience for Ariel to show up. When she finally arrived with her purple shell bra, bright green tail, and a flower in her glowing red hair, I lost it. I can still remember squealing and nearly screaming as my dad exclaimed “Look, Marena! It’s the little mermaid! Isn’t she so pretty?” 

Definitely a core childhood moment. Plus, Prince Eric was definitely my first crush as a kid (besides Danny Zuko from Grease and Uncle Jessie from Full House… so yeah I definitely have a type). I also still want to wear Ariel’s sparkling dress from the end of the movie when King Triton turns her human. Besides the obvious nostalgia it has for me, I always admired Ariel’s sweetness and adventurous spirit that yearned to explore the world.

The Little Mermaid was definitely that movie for me when I was a kid. When I heard Disney was making a live-action The Little Mermaid, I was definitely interested. I loved Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, but I was interested to see what a live-action “Little Mermaid” movie would look like, especially underwater. 

Since the movie had been delayed so long due to COVID-19, it had slipped my mind. However, when the first trailer was released with snippets of the underwater creatures and Halle Bailey singing the “Part of Your World” riff, I was sold. After ages of waiting, The Little Mermaid was released in theaters late May. I was visiting family in Missouri when the film was released so I took my little brother to go see it. It was definitely a full-circle moment taking my little brother to see the live-action version of the movie that held such a deep part of me when I was a kid. When I left the theaters, I absolutely loved it and my little brother enjoyed it as well.

Here are some of the highlights from the film:

  1. Halle Bailey was absolutely stunning as Ariel. Besides her breathtaking voice, she really captured the innocence and spirit of Ariel. I was so impressed by how she was able to do this, even when she wasn’t speaking. Halle Bailey was absolutely phenomenal and truly embodies what it means to be a Disney Princess. (It’s also my firm opinion that she deserves her own Disney Princess!)
  2. The chemistry between Eric and Ariel in this movie was amazing. Jonah was great as Prince Eric, and I do like that they gave Eric his own song in this movie. I loved the character development they gave Prince Eric and the chemistry that they had was off the charts. One of my favorite scenes was the day they spent exploring the village and they had such a great day that Eric forgets about the girl that “saved” him.
  3. The scenery in this movie was beautiful. I LOVED that they filmed in Italy, and I thought the underwater scenes looked pretty cool. The “Under the Sea” scene with the turtles, dolphins, and jellyfish looked great and I definitely would have been fascinated with it if I was a kid.
  4. The casting of Javier Bardem as King Triton and Melissa McCarthy has to be one of my favorite castings of all time. Javier Bardem is absolutely what I would have imagined the real-life King Triton to look like and he and Halle Bailey had great chemistry as a father-daughter duo. Melissa McCarthy EMBODIED Ursula, and her performance of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” was iconic (definitely a respectful nod to Pat Carrol’s version). Overall, I loved the casting of this film.

Some other thoughts I had:

  1. The outfits were a major one. Halle Bailey looked beautiful and I loved her styling, but I feel like this movie was lacking the original outfits that were so iconic in the original Little Mermaid movie. There was no blue dress and bow for the “Kiss The Girl” scene. There was no pink dress that she wore to dinner with Prince Eric. There was no sparkling dress when she emerged out of the sea. While I LOVED the pink dress she wore at the end when she left with Prince Eric, it still didn’t hold up to Ariel’s wedding dress in the original movie. I thought the headband and dress that Halle wore were so cute, but I wish they had given her more outfits that were similar to the original.
  2. Some of the underwater scenes were incredibly dark, minus the bright and colorful “Under the Sea” scene. There were definitely a few times in the theaters where I was squinting to see better. I was also saddened that they cut out the scenes of Ariel’s sisters singing “Daughters of Triton,” and while I enjoyed “Under the Sea,” I definitely like the cartoon version better.
  3. There were definitely some changes that I noticed from the original film. Sebastian and Flounder’s designs are much different. The “Part of Your World” splash-rock scene wasn’t as iconic as the one in the cartoon. “Les Poissons” was also cut out, but I totally understand why they would do that for a live-action for the film.

Overall, I loved this movie! I thought Halle Bailey was incredible and the movie truly has so much heart. Do I prefer this one over the cartoon one? The cartoon one still definitely has my heart. Did it mirror the original one exactly? No, and that’s okay! I see Disney’s live-action remakes as almost a different version of the story, a retelling if you will. 

My generation still has the original Little Mermaid that we know and love, but now this new generation will get to enjoy both Ariels! I know how important Halle Bailey’s Ariel is for so many little girls and my little brother definitely enjoyed Sebastian and Flounder. While the cartoon movie is definitely still my favorite, there is so much about The Little Mermaid that I enjoyed and I will definitely re-watch it. I loved this new version of The Little Mermaid and I am so excited to see what Halle Bailey does next!

Marena Mendez is a rising senior at Texas Christian University and the President of Her Campus at TCU. She is a Youth Advocacy and Child Development major with specializations in Art Education and Communication studies. Marena is also the President of Frogs 4 Children, the Director of Hospitality for TCU Dance Marathon, and a Marketing Intern for Make A Wish. If she's not on campus, she's probably watching "Community", at Target, or tearing it up at Billy Bob's!