Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid release date, controversies, plot, and more

By Olivia Richman


May 19, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

The Little Mermaid is the latest live-action remake from Disney and it’s been causing a lot of controversy since it was announced. From the main actress playing Ariel to the unpopular animal designs to the seemingly fabricated early reviews, there’s been a lot of social media discourse.

Now, The Little Mermaid is almost here, so Disney fans and haters alike will be able to experience the movie for themselves and make their own judgement.

When is The Little Mermaid coming out?

The official release date for The Little Mermaid is May 26, 2023.

Unlike some other recent Disney remakes and releases, it won’t be on Disney Plus. It will exclusively be in theaters when it comes out initially.

What is the plot of The Little Mermaid?

The Little Mermaid is going to tell the story of Ariel, a “spirited, young mermaid” that longs for adventure. She is King Triton’s youngest and most defiant daughter, often secretly visiting the surface. She ends up falling for Prince Eric, a human that lives on the land above. She makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula to experience the land for herself, but her decision puts her father’s crown and kingdom in jeopardy.

This is the same story since The Little Mermaid’s animated counterpart was released in 1989. It will even include a lot of the same songs, confirmed by teasers from Disney.

Who is starring in The Little Mermaid?

As a live-action remake, The Little Mermaid will include both actors and voice actors for the CGI versions of animals. The titular role of Ariel was given to Halle Bailey after an “extensive search” for someone with enough “spirit and substance” to play the iconic part.

Prince Eric will be played by actor Jonah Hauer-King. Harry Styles and Jack Whitehall were considered beforehand, but Styles turned down the part. Comedian and writer Melissa McCarthy will play Ursula and Javier Bardem will be King Triton.

“You’re flying around singing and spinning in these crazy contraptions and up on wires. What’s not to love?” she added,” said McCarthy about playing the “delicious” villain Ursula.

When it comes to the CGI characters, Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs will voice Sebastian the crab and Jacob Tremblay will voice the fish named Flounder.

What are The Little Mermaid controversies?

Sebastian the crab

The discourse surrounding The Little Mermaid is often negative. The first issue is that it exists in the first place. A lot of people are sick of Disney making “live action remakes” of classic movies, wanting the company to stop recycling existing stories and make something new. Many critics have called the live action films soulless, saying they don’t really change the story enough to justify existing, especially The Lion King.

Many people also don’t like the quality of the film from what they’ve seen in trailers. The movie looks very dark instead of the vibrant and colorful world of the original Little Mermaid from the late 80s. The murky water and one-dimensional environment has left many disappointed, but only time will tell.

Other movie fans feel as though Disney is pandering to certain groups by casting Bailey as Ariel. Race and gender swapping has become pretty commonplace in Disney and Marvel movies and shows. While these groups need more representation in the media, some feel that Disney is going about it in the wrong way. Of course, some people have problematic opinions rooted in racism. But others feel Disney is simply ingenuine.

Then there’s Sebastian. He was turned into a very realistic crab without any personality. But even worse, crab fans across social media have noted that the live action version of Sebastian is inspired by a crab that lives on land, the ghost crab. He would drown if underwater, making it all the more confusing that Disney made Sebastian look this way without any research.


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