Not surprisingly, “The Little Mermaid” has made quite a splash.
No wonder. It’s been told and retold for generations, and remains much beloved. This is just the most recent version from Disney, after the animated hit from Disney in the 1980s.
Part live-action and part CGI, the film is carried along beautifully by the talented Halle Bailey as Ariel, the mermaid in the title.
Director Rob Marshall and screenwriter David Magee, who brought us “Mary Poppins Returns,” bring the newest version to the screen. Lin- Manuel Miranda is co-producer and songwriter along with Alan Menken, whose compositions helped make the earlier version such a hit.
The movie begins with Ariel exploring a shipwreck, and a her father, King Triton (a wonderful Javier Bardem) trying to lay down the law with his daughter who has a mind of her own. She’s fascinated by everything above the water, and has created a sort of museum by collecting odds and ends she has found.
Ariel witnesses a shipwreck during a storm, and saves Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King, “A Dog’s Way Home,”) who through his recovery cannot let go of the memory of a mysterious girl who stayed by his side. Melissa McCarthy is wonderfully wicked as Ursula, Triton’s banished sister who masterfully manipulates Ariel.
An enjoyable Daveed Diggs provides the vocal cords for Sebastian, the crab, while Awkwafina adds comedy to every line as the voice of the seabird Scuttle.
My favorite sequence was the beloved song “Under the Sea,” delivered against a gorgeous, colorful background.
The movie has its flaws. It’s overly long, especially with new songs that don’t’ necessarily add to its charms. But it’s still a rollicking good time with themes about friendship, love and betrayal that are as timeless as this tale.
Rated: PG for scary sequences.
Running time: Two hours and 15 minutes.
At Cinemark, Davenport; Regal, Moline; and Palms 10, Muscatine.
Watch the trailer here.