Mermaid Remake: “Joy, Fun, Mystery, Risk, Flavor, Kink — They’re Missing”

(p. C1) The new, live-action “The Little Mermaid” is everything nobody should want in a movie: dutiful and defensive, yet desperate for approval. It reeks of obligation and noble intentions. Joy, fun, mystery, risk, flavor, kink — they’re missing. The movie is saying, “We tried!” Tried not to offend, appall, challenge, imagine. A crab croons, a gull raps, a sea witch swells to Stay Puft proportions: This is not supposed to be a serious event. But it feels made in anticipation of being taken too seriously. Now, you can’t even laugh at it.

. . .

(p. C8) . . ., the movie’s worried — worried about what we’ll say, about whether they got it right. That allergy to creative risk produces hazards anyway. I mean, with all these Black women running around in a period that seems like the 19th century, the talk of ships and empire, Brazil and Cartagena just makes me wonder about the cargo on these boats.

For the full movie review, see:

Wesley Morris. “Remake Finds Its Feet but Loses Its Bubbles.” The New York Times (Friday, May 26, 2023): C1 & C8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the movie review was updated May 26, 2023, and has the title “‘The Little Mermaid’ Review: The Renovations Are Only Skin Deep.”)

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