“A young mermaid makes a deal with a sea witch, to trade her beautiful voice for human legs so she can discover the world above water and impress a prince.”

Director: Rob Marshall
Writers: David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca
Staring: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Rated: PG
Release Date: May 26, 2023

Perhaps the biggest flex of the 95th Academy Awards show was Disney buying out a spot in the award show for Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy to come out and promote the first look of their new movie The Little Mermaid (2023). The two stars came out in classic Disney princess style gowns and gave a bit of a rundown about how Disney has given so much to the world, and now they are part of a new story that will add to the legacy. It is all really endearing and all, but felt misplaced even in a program where self-congratulations is a bit of the vibe.

The Little Mermaid is being directed by Rob Marshall. who is no stranger to the Disney assembly line. The last movie he completed was Mary Poppins Returns (2018), which was more enjoyable than it should haVe ever been thanks to Emily Blunt being an absolute queen.

The big thing that Rob Marshall does is that he gets awards buzz around his movies. Mary Poppins Returns was nominated for four Oscars. Into The Woods (2015) earned three Oscar nominations. Memoirs Of A Geisha (2005) was nominated for six and won three. Back in 2002 Marshall directed Chicago, which took home Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And then there is the movie Nine (2009), which I had never heard of but stars the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench and Kate Hudson. Oh, and Nine got four Oscar nominations.

So Rob Marshall knows what he is doing. The only project he has touched that hasn’t turned to potential Oscar gold is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011).

Halle Berry has the dubious but honorable part of Ariel. It is not east to step into the shoe of a classic Disney princess. This is also going to be Berry’s first major motion picture, so what a time to get your feet wet in the ocean of Disney live action remakes…which has beeb choppy lately, to say the least.

Do we remember Robert Zemeckis’s Pinnochio (2022)? Or the highly anticipated Mulan (2020) reimagining?

It would appear that Disney did learn something from its past mistakes because in The Little Mermaid they are not getting rid of the small characters. Flounder (Jacob Tremblay) is cast, as well as Sebastian, who is being played by Daveed Diggs. In fact we have a little bit of a Hamilton reunion because Lin-Manuel Miranda is playing Chef Louis.

The cast around Bailey is diverse and very talented. The aforementioned Melissa McCarthy is playing Ursala. Javier Bardem is playing King Triton and Awkwafina voicing the bit of Scuttle. Interestingly enough, the other major part of Prince Eric is also being played by a relatively unknown by the name of Jonah Hauer-King. Can these young potential stars make magic happen? One has to hope for The Little Mermaids success.

The trailer hits all the beats you’d expect. It shows the characters you want to see, highlights the vibrant colors that will be shimmering, and touches on the trauma Ariel is going to navigate. What this first trailer does knock out of the park is highlighting Haile Berry’s voice. They did not hide the elephant in the room, because why would they? Berry has fucking pipes. Good lord, I got some goosebumps and totally zoned out on the visuals. Whether or not the visuals or story can translate into real-life remake are a success, I think it would be a safe bet that the singing from the movie’s titular character is already on another level.

The Little Mermaid comes up from the depths and premieres in theaters on May 26, 2023.

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