The Little Mermaid (2023) Review – a remake that finds a bit of that Disney magic

By Marc Miller
Published: May 23, 2023 (Last updated: May 26, 2023)
2023 film The Little Mermaid Review


While it may not compare to the original, Rob Marshall, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the cast find a bit of magic and heartfelt exuberance in their live-action remake of the classic animated film The Little Mermaid, which makes it worth watching.

Here is our review of the 2023 film The Little Mermaid, which does not contain spoilers.

The story of The Little Mermaid gets the big studio Disney live-action treatment with Rob Marshall behind the camera. Halle Bailey plays Ariel (half of the duo from the singers Chloe x Halle) and more than holds her own here as the flame-haired, precocious mermaid. The remake may not have the same magic as the original, but it has an entertaining heart that’s hard to ignore.

The Littler Mermaid (2023) Review and Plot Summary

Much of that credit can come from Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter David Magee, who adapted the film from Disney’s 1989 animated classic.

Here, the story is fairly loyal to the source material, as Ariel is still the youngest daughter to the Nick Cannon of the sea, King Triton (Javier Bardem), and his half-dozen daughters.

King Triton has trouble keeping Ariel inside his safe salt-water bubble. Ariel craves adventure her current world cannot quench. Frequently visiting the surface world, she encounters a sinking ship and the gallant prince Eric (A Dog’s Way Home’s Jonah Hauer-King).

After saving most of the crew, Eric’s knocked out cold into the water. Ariel rescues him from drowning, carrying him to safety.

The leads are blander than expected, and most of this remake’s enjoyment comes from a villainous turn and the fun supporting voice cast. Melissa McCarthy is cackling-good here as Ursula, who revels in the role with wickedly funny quips and a menacing manic laugh.

The filmmakers hit a home run here; you cannot imagine anyone else playing this classic character.

Awkwafina induces the most laughter by lending her voice to the dimwitted gannet, Scuttle. Many may object to Flounder’s new slim physique, but Jacob Tremblay‘s voice brings the adorable figure to life.

Along with Blindspotting’s Daveed Diggs playing the anxious crab Sebastian, the group brings live entertainment to the screen, giving the movie the levity it needs.

Is the 2023 film The Little Mermaid Good or Bad?

Much of the debate of if the live-action remake is good or bad will hinge on the film’s musical component. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a producer and wrote four new songs with legendary composer Alan Menken, who scored several animated Disney classics, including the original. And yes, changes were made to “Kiss the Girl” and ‘”Poor Unfortunate Souls” that were needed.

The best was “The Scuttlebut,” rapped by Awkwafina (and Diggs joins in). While Disney purists may hate it, let’s face it, this movie aims at kids and provides a lot of fun. The same can be said for the extravagant presentation of “Under the Sea.” Halle Bailey captures the nostalgia from the original with “Part of Your World.”

Is the 2023 film The Little Mermaid Worth Watching?

The live-action remake of Little Mermaid is worth watching. Keep this in mind. The film is aimed at children and families. I will point out that the special effects, for some reason, become muddled by the film’s big ending sequence, which is strange that McCarthy’s Ursula suddenly can no longer emote.

However, Marshall, Miranda, Menken, Bailey, and Hauer-King find that bit of Disney magic from the original with its lovely score, an updated mix of modernized and classic songs, and its heartfelt exuberant romance. Hold a grudge that classics should never be remade, I’m on that team, but you cannot argue the entertainment was delivered well enough here for its target audience.

What did you think of the film The Little Mermaid (2023)? Comment below.

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