Disney Remakes – The Little Mermaid

By: Mallory Timbrook

I am a Disney child and am not afraid to admit it. Except for most Pixar movies, Disney has never released anything that I didn’t like. At least they hadn’t until 2016. When Disney announced they were making a live-action of The Little Mermaid, I was salty (pun intended). The Little Mermaid (1989) was my favorite movie as a child. I saw myself in Ariel. I was a pale redhead who was stubborn and didn’t want to listen to my parents. She was my idol. I would watch the movie every day, all day. The second the film ended, I would run to the VHS player, hit STOP, and then hit REWIND to watch it again. My older brother definitely hated me. I would sing “Part of Your World” by Jodi Benson like it was my job. When my family visited Disney World, we waited for what felt like forever in line so Ariel could sign my mermaid autograph book. In the summer, I would beg my brother to play mermaids with me in the pool even though I knew he would say no. According to my mother, when I was four years old, I told her I was going to be a mermaid when I grew up. Unfortunately, my tail never appeared. 

I wasn’t angry when Disney announced live-action remakes of classics like The Lion King, Aladdin, or The Beauty and the Beast, but the minute I heard about The Little Mermaid, I was angry. I didn’t understand why Disney had to take what I perceived as a perfect film and redo it. My negative attitude towards the remake had nothing to do with any casting decisions or lyric changes; it was the project as a whole. I refused to watch any trailers, listen to interviews, or sing along to the new songs when they appeared on Spotify. It was childish, but I didn’t care. When the film finally came to theaters, I refused to go. It wasn’t until the remake appeared on Disney+ that I finally decided to watch it. 

Before the movie started, I told my youngest brother, “If the movie sucks, we’re turning it off. If it doesn’t suck, then we’re going to watch it, and I’m going to complain the whole time.” The poor boy must have been so confused. Surprisingly, I didn’t instantly turn the film off or complain when the characters appeared. I was actually enjoying it. However, the moment of truth hadn’t arrived yet: Halle Bailey’s version of “Part of Your World.” As soon as Halle was cast as Ariel, I Googled her and listened to her music. I knew she could hold a tune and had a beautiful voice, but I was still skeptical. Jodi Benson’s version was my childhood, and nothing was going to change that, but when I heard Halle start singing during the “Part of Your World” scene, all my worries and anger disappeared. Halle was amazing. She captured my attention, and regardless of the fact a new actress was playing my Ariel, I didn’t care. I was just as amazed listening to Halle sing “Part of Your World” for the first time as I was listening to Jodi sing it twenty years earlier. Halle’s version will never beat Jodi’s in my brain, but I loved it nonetheless. The movie continued, and I was enthralled. When the ending scene with King Triton, Ariel, and the other merpeople happened, I unashamedly shed a few tears. I clicked out of the movie, hit restart on the Disney+ screen, and watched it again. I was so stuck in the past that I had told my brain I would hate the remake for years. I had to rewatch The Little Mermaid (2023) twice to appreciate and enjoy the film without prejudice. I am back in my mermaid phase and don’t care. I’m twenty years older than I was the first time, but I’m not counting. If you see me on campus with my mermaid backpack from 2003, mind your own business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *