The Little Mermaid @ Theaters Across Seattle

Continuing the legacy 34 years later 🌟

Published May 22, 2023

A screencap from The Little Mermaid
Opens May
Too Late — You Missed It!

Opens May 26

The original Musker/Clements animated movie changed the course of American film history when it premiered in late 1989. Can the director of Pirates of the Caribbean 4 replicate that success 34 years later?

I josh. Slightly. Rob Marshall is hit or miss as a director, but I’ll always give him the benefit of the doubt.

🐠 He’s one of the few people consistently working in movie musicals, my favorite genre.
🐠 (B) He and Sam Mendes co-directed the landmark ’90s stage revival of Cabaret.
🐠 (C) 2002’s Best Picture winner Chicago is a game-changer that improves upon the source material (Bill Condon’s rebuilt-from-scratch screenplay is a marvel of adaptation) and helped revitalize the genre.
🐠And heck: (D) I like Mary Poppins Returns, especially the throwback Shaiman/Wittman score.

Enter Disney, who has spent the past 10-plus years remaking some of their biggest hits, and they were bound to come around to the film that launched what we now call the Disney Renaissance. The good news is that The Little Mermaid was no fluke, with a strong enough narrative skeleton and emotional core that are pretty hard to mess up unless one’s trying really, really hard. The cast points to “No, let’s do this one right,” with Daveed Diggs (Sebastien), Jacob Tremblay (Flounder), and Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (Ursula the sea witch) supporting what’s going to be a megastar-making performance from 23-year-old Halle Bailey as Ariel.

And holy moly, those Alan Menken and Howard Ashman songs. All bangers. “Part of Your World”? More like part of my world since I was seven. And what’s a remake without a few new ditties? Lyricist Ashman sadly passed away in 1991, so Pulitzer/Tony/Emmy winner and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Lin-Manuel Miranda has been tagged in from beyond to help with some bonus tuners.

Go under the sea and, I dunno, hang out with some fish. Could be fun!

📸: Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

Headshot for Marcus Gorman

Marcus Gorman is a Seattle-based playwright and film programmer. He once raised money for a synagogue by marathoning 15 Adam Sandler movies in one weekend. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @marcus_gorman.

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