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Little Mermaid’s original director provides criticism of the live action adaptation of the movie

The venerable Disney director John Musker, 70, has worked on many movies that people of all ages have loved and supported. Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog, Treasure Planet, Hercules, and The Little Mermaid are just a few of the Disney movies under his name. That said, Musker did not fail to give his constructive criticisms on the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid.

Musker thought that the adaptation of The Little Mermaid fell short of showing the father-daughter relationship between King Triton and Ariel, which was a crucial part of the movie. They share a strong bond that even the antagonist, the sea witch Ursula, could not break.

In an interview with Spanish outlet El País, he stated:

“They didn’t play up the father-daughter story, and that was the heart of the movie, in a way.”

The director also had a take on the animal characters. Flounder, Sebastian, Scuttle, and other animals present in the movie seemed to lack emotions.

“The crab — you could look at live animals in a zoo and they have more expression, like with The Lion King,”

Photo Credit: Disney
Photo Credit: Disney

“That’s one of the basic things about Disney, is the appeal. That’s what animation does best,” he added.

Musker also talked about how animation companies are always playing in the safe zone to minimize the risk.

“’They like this, right? We’ll just do it again and sell it to them in a different form.’ Or they think, ‘Well, we could make it better,’” Musker retorted.

He also shared his thoughts about having films that have deep and meaningful stories behind them. Especially when Princess and the Frog was out, and Tiana was the first Black princess. Audiences thought that Disney was trying to be “woke.”

In Musker’s defense, he said, “We weren’t trying to be woke, although I understand the criticism.”

He also suggested that Disney conceptualize the story first before adding in the message, saying, “The classic Disney films didn’t start out trying to have a message. They wanted you to get involved in the characters and the story and the world, and I think that’s still the heart of it. You don’t have to exclude agendas, but you have to first create characters who you sympathize with and who are compelling,”

The live-action adaptation of Little Mermaid earned $569.6 million and premiered at the Dolby Theatre in L.A. on May 8, 2023. The cast was filled with amazing actors including Haile Bailey who played Ariel, Javier Bardem as King Triton, and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula.


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