When committing to a live-action “re-imagining” of a beloved animated classic, Disney might have dove just a bit too far in the deep end when it came to “The Little Mermaid.”
While the regal real-life lions seen in 2019’s live-action “Lion King” were easy to take, the underwater cartoon creatures from 1989’s “The Little Mermaid” – most notably Ariel’s sidekick friends Flounder and Sebastian – look strange at best as irl animals in this spring’s re-do.
The pair were briefly seen on screen at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Wednesday morning, after Melissa McCarthy – who plays the villainous sea witch Ursula in the new movie – came onstage to present the never-before-seen “Poor Unfortunate Souls” musical sequence.
Flounder, who in the original animated film is a vivid yellow and blue fish with expressive eyes, was most probably modeled after an “angelfish or some other similar vibrantly colored reef fish,” according to oceanconservancy.org.
In Wednesday’s clip, the character was seen briefly at the top of the sequence alongside Sebastian the crab, and the immediate reaction to them speaking to warn Ariel (Halle Bailey) about Ursula’s craftiness – Flounder is voiced in the new movie by Jacob Tremblay, while Sebastian is brought to life by Daveed Diggs – was a strange disconnect between their expressive voices and small, hard-to-pinpoint eyes.
That feeling was only compounded by the movie’s character poster reveals, released on Disney’s Instagram account also on Wednesday.
In the time since, social media reception has been in kind, with one Twitter user suggesting Flounder had been put “on Ozempic.” The account for the Southlake, Texas Department of Public Safety called the visual “a crime,” and specified, “we’re just trying to find out which one.”
Certainly, there is an implicit leap that Disney is asking viewers to make when watching a live-action version of a beloved animated classic, but the end result when it comes to these aquatic animals and crustaceans may be, for some, too realistic to take in.
“The Little Mermaid” swims into theaters on May 26.