It doesn’t get better down where it’s wetter, but will you escape to this new Disney remake? See it or skip it, is it a new hit? Under the sea!!!! Film critic Patrick Beatty is here to tell us all about the new remake as well as a new series and A24 film.
The Little Mermaid
Where to Watch: Theaters
David Magee, Hans Christian Andersen, Ron Clements
Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina
Adventure, Family, Fantasy
All media courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
Disney Live-Action Remakes have run their course, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still give you something special that the original may not have been able to. That’s why I continue to hold out hope that the next inevitable rehash of Disney IP has more than just extra songs, a few big-name stars, and less of the magic we had from the first. The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s most cherished films, and while this new film makes further strides that others have in giving me something to enjoy- I want more.
First, what I love, Halle Bailey is a tidal wave of an actress, and her performance holds the entire film up. I loved her voice- I got the same chills from the original because of how haunting yet angelic it sounded. She has charisma and leads the film with poise and grace. Melissa McCarthy plays the evil tentacle-laden Ursula to perfection. She proves why she was the right choice and my fears about her over-saturating the character with her iconic sense of humor were immediately gone from her first scene.
Most if not all of the sea animal voice work worked for me- aside from a specific song towards the end led by Awkwafina’s Scuttle. Daveed Diggs was perfect for Sebastian, and his songs rocked. But sadly this is where I can’t really commend the film more than just the songs and our main performers. There are a lot of problems in this film- namely the effects. Coming from Avatar: The Way of Water to The Little Mermaids effects may not seem fair- but it’s the uncanny valley of the effects that make me wonder how much was given to the effects team to really clean it up. It’s not seamless, you can almost see the wirework. As well, I felt the relationship between Arielle and her father played by Javier Bardem was so underdeveloped that when their entire relationship arc feels forced and unearned.
Overall, children are going to easily overlook the issues I’m bringing up but at the same time, I know these remakes are just gonna keep coming. I need them to improve, I need to start seeing Disney + trust in their writers and creators to bring in new dynamics or, dare I even say, NEW content unrelated to previous films. At the end of the day, representation matters, and I say this is still a See It because I know and have a family that needs representation on the big screen. Is it the best Disney could do? No, but this is definitely not the worst either.
See It or Skip It: See It.
You Hurt My Feelings
Where to Watch: Theaters
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tobias Menzies, Michaela Watkins
All media courtesy of A24
A beautiful look at relationships’ common vulnerabilities. What happens when your spouse catches you in a white lie? What if it’s the opposite? How much can a white lie affect the relationship? Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies are both magnetic to watch but also a mirror to how most of our healthy relationships could be. The directing and writing are real, raw, and done with humanity and kindness.
I had the chance to see this during the 2023 Sundance film festival, and while it wasn’t the big star, it quietly sat with me throughout the festival and even now. This is a slice-of-life film that explores real feelings- even if the stakes are smaller. Definitely see it.
See It or Skip It: See It
American Born Chinese
Where to Watch: Disney +
Michelle Yeoh, Ke-Huy Quan, Josh Duvendeck, Celeste Den, Gloria Laino
All media courtesy of 20th Television
Based on the best-selling graphic novel in 2006, this new Disney+ series reminds me of everything I loved from the book. Taking three separate storylines and directing what it means to be an Asian-American. I’ve so far watched the first few episodes and I’m excited for more. I lived in a small town in Wyoming whose school had one Asian student. Just one. I can’t imagine how they felt, and I love how well American Born Chinese places you squarely in the shoes of a character really struggling with these questions.
I would also strongly recommend the graphic novel, but the series is proving to do a good job with the material. This is a see-it!