While the film still has a few weeks until the May 26 theatrical release, Variety reported that director Rob Marshall already held a private screening. Invitees included A-list celebrities Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Matt Damon, and Ben Platt, to name a few.
Critic Courtney Howard said the new “Little Mermaid” had both good and bad moments.
#TheLittleMermaid: Charming, but incredibly spotty. Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy & Javier Bardem put their heart & souls into a film that can’t escape its animated legacy. Best when it leans into campy bonkers, yet limits its fantasy elements for no reason. pic.twitter.com/c7Bt2BO5rq
— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) May 9, 2023
“Charming, but incredibly spotty,” she tweeted. “Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy & Javier Bardem put their heart & souls into a film that can’t escape its animated legacy. Best when it leans into campy bonkers, yet limits its fantasy elements for no reason.”
Variety contributor Simon Thompson had a similar take. “Endearing but uneven, [“The Little Mermaid”] doesn’t deliver the magic of the animated classic, but there are plenty of creative touches from Rob Marshall to float the audience’s boats. Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy are great. Daveed Diggs and Awkwafina provide solid comic relief.”
Kirsten Acuna from Insider said this remake fell victim to the same fate as so many other live-action adaptations in that it couldn’t hold a candle to the original.
She said the movie was “filled with a few great performances from Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy, but it’s a mostly paint-by-numbers remake that isn’t as good as the animated masterpiece.”
Gizmodo contributor Germain Lussier told moviegoers that whatever you’re expecting to see is what you’ll get.
“It’s real simple,” Lussier tweeted. “Are you excited for #TheLittleMermaid? You’ll like it. It’s exactly what you think it is. Are you skeptical and worried about it? That’s valid too. It looks weird and disjointed. Bailey is great, McCarthy rules, the songs work but it just feels so unnecessary.”
“The Little Mermaid” has a musical soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken, who also did the music for the 1989 animated version. Actress Halle Bailey plays Ariel and Melissa McCarthy is Ursula the Sea Witch. Other cast members include Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina, Jacob Tremblay voicing Flounder, Daveed Diggs voicing Sebastian, and Awkwafina voicing Scuttle.
While many critics seemed unimpressed, others raved about the movie, calling it “one of the better live action adaptations” and “magical.” Most reviewers so far have had positive things to say about Bailey’s performance as Ariel.
(Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids’ entertainment content.)