The Little Mermaid, 2023 – ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers.

I feel so conflicted.

The Little Mermaid (1989) is probably my most-watched movie ever. I was 4 when it was released and I think I saw it at the cinema, then we got it on VHS and I watched it over and over until the thing wore out.

So I know it off by heart. Every word to every song, every word in between the songs.

I knew going into this that there would be changes. There’s the extra 52 minutes to fill. And I am totally on board with the casting - more diversity is great and Halle Bailey is incredible.

What kills me are all the smaller, unnecessary changes. Adding 2 songs is great to try and expand Eric’s backstory and show that he is in the same boat as Arial, which helps to explain why they are good for each other, but why remove 2 songs? I just mentioned we have 52 minutes to play with here.

Right from the off, removing the “Daughters of Triton” song (Disney really said “This song could have been a meeting”) made me worried for the film.

Other small unnecessary changes - Ursula’s pets Flotsam and Jetsam no longer speak but instead function as an underwater Zoom call (seriously, what is it with Disney and meetings?). 

Ursula’s enemies no longer turn into little pathetic slug things. There are hands with eyes on though, like something from Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

They don’t sign a contract, one of my favourite parts of that song, but instead she signs it with blood. Apparently this is to cover up the plot hole that Arial understands English and could have written to Eric. Ok, so make the contract in merspeak or something! Don’t get rid of it and so ruin the part at the end where Triton signs it instead. Let’s just kill him and bring him back to life….!!??

I could go on. So many changes are done to try and stop anthropomorphising the fish, but what about Flounder and Sebastian? That ship has sailed, run with it!


I love the songs. I love the meaning behind the story (I grew up thinking it was an allegory for forbidden love - being gay, I latched onto that). I love the diversity. I just think I’d have been happier if it were more faithful to the original. 

Oh, well. You nearly did it Disney.

Oh and the rap with the bird and the crab… no. Just, no.