By Sophia Porter
“The Little Mermaid” starring Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King is absolutely beautiful, and I am tired of everyone ignoring this fact.
Every time I have watched this movie, I mention how I could write an essay on how perfect this film is. Here’s my chance.
First off, I am in love with Jonah Hauer-King and his Mr. Darcy-esque approach to Prince Eric. His elevated personality and overall depth as a character that was developed in this live-action adaptation blew me away. I loved the insight we got into his world and the people within, especially Grimsby, the loveliest old man ever. Grimsby saw Eric’s feelings towards Ariel, ones he had yet come to terms with, and helped him along to realize how Eric truly feels about Ariel.
The most important fact of the entire film is that Halle Bailey is simply Ariel. When we are introduced to her she exudes mermaid energy: her long, colorful locs; sweet demeanor and restless adventurous spirit. She has become the perfect mermaid princess for new generations. Don’t even get me started on the vocal choice she made to opt up in “Part of Your World,” or her new song, “For the First Time.” To achieve being a real mermaid, one must have their own siren song, and Bailey did just that.
Pure genius was sprinkled in one moment that created a ripple effect for the rest of the film. Having Ursula, played by the magnificent Melissa McCarthy, and adding to the spell on Ariel that she will not remember that she needs to kiss Eric. In the original, Ariel was constantly looking to get close to Eric and seduce him, whereas in the 2023 version, Ariel is still attracted to Eric, but does not act on it. Instead she is authentically herself, as is Eric, which ultimately draws him to her.
Hauer-King’s Eric is developed in a way that helps audiences understand why Ariel falls for him in the first place. He is gorgeous, but love is more than what’s on the surface. When she discovers that Eric’s library is filled with knick-knacks of the sea, she is reminded of her grotto, which is filled with trinkets from the human world. They both share the same passion to escape and go explore the world. Even the music that plays behind the scenes sounds like sister tracks. These two were literally ‘written in the stars’ through the director and composer’s choice of paralleling the two in all their actions.
“Kiss the Girl” has raised my expectations of dating to an astronomical degree. The scene is already cute enough with Scuttle, Sebastian and Flounder making appearances, but Eric amplifies the sweetness of the scene through his gentleness towards Ariel, who is still oblivious of his feelings. Then, as the music breaks for a moment, Eric begins teaching Ariel where the constellations are. She then teaches him how to say her name through the stars he showed her. Are you joking? I, too, am teaching myself where constellations are so I can woo a man by teaching him how to say my name through the stars.
If you have yet to see this movie, do not walk—run to your laptop, Roku or whatever you use to watch Disney+, and watch these two sea rovers fall in love.