The Little Mermaid (2023)


Street Date 9/19/23;
Box Office $298.17 million;
$29.99 DVD, $36.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD (Exclusive to Best Buy, Walmart and Disney Movie Club);
Rated ‘PG’ for action/peril and some scary images.
Stars Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Noma Dumezweni, Art Malik, Jessica Alexander, Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina.

Disney’s bland live-action remake of The Little Mermaid might not supplant the original animated classic in the hearts of fans, but it does make for a nice companion piece. At the very least, like most of Disney’s live-action remakes, it should keep entertained the new generation of viewers unfamiliar with the source material.

The story, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, doesn’t stray much from Disney’s 1989 animated version, other than to fill in a few details. The mermaid Ariel (Halle Bailey) becomes fascinated by human culture and dreams of exploring the surface world, though is warned against doing so by her father, King Triton (Javier Bardem). Witnessing a shipwreck during a violent storm, Ariel saves Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), prince of an unnamed island kingdom, and becomes enamored with him. After being admonished by her father, Ariel is approached by the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) who offers her a deal — three days with legs instead of a tail, and a chance to win the heart of the prince. Earning true love’s kiss will make her permanently human, but if she fails, she reverts to her mermaid form and will be enslaved by Ursula (who simply wants to use Ariel as a bargaining chip to extort the throne from Triton). And she will have to do it without her famous singing voice, as Ursula has seized it as the price for her spell.

As an added twist, in this version Ursula’s spell makes Ariel forget the terms of their deal, leaving it up to Ariel’s undersea pals Sebastian the crab, Flounder the fish, and Scuttle the bird, to arrange for the kiss.

The film also adds more dimension to Eric’s character, who is fascinated by stories of sea creatures and their culture, and he even gets his own “I want” song, “Wild Unchartered Waters,” to really hammer home that he’s the human male version of Ariel.

Most of the original songs carry over, though the ditty from the chef trying to make a meal of Sebastian has been omitted. The few new songs from original composer Alan Menken, joined by new lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, don’t mesh very well stylistically with the legacy material, particularly the ill-advised “Scuttlebutt” semi-rap number.

As to the primary motivation for this remake to exist, the “live-action” of it all, the visual effects aren’t very convincing in that regard. The underwater sequences look like a cross between Finding Nemo and Aquaman — bright, vivid environments with greenscreened humans superimposed onto them — which just speaks to why it was animated in the first place. It doesn’t help that Ariel’s animal pals also have to speak, which lends to an uncanny valley effect involving them, particularly Sebastian.

Thankfully, the live-action version doesn’t restore the fairy tale’s original ending, in which the mermaid utterly fails in her quest for love and dissolves into sea foam, ultimately becoming an ethereal spirit.

The home video editions of The Little Mermaid include both the theatrical cut and a sing-along version with on-screen lyrics. To that end, there’s also a “Song Selection” option that lets viewers watch just the musical scenes.

The 22-minute “Song Breakdowns” featurettes delves into the making of the film’s four key musical sequences. The general making of the film is covered in the 26-minute “Hotter Under the Water” featurette, while the seven-minute “The Scuttlebutt on Sidekicks” focuses on the portrayal of the side characters. The four-minute “Passing the Dinglehopper” deals with the cameo of Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the original movie.

Rounding out the extras is a two-minute blooper reel.

Note that as far as physical media is concerned, only the Blu-ray and DVD will be made widely available at retail. The 4K editions are exclusive to Best Buy (which offers a Steelbook combo pack), Walmart (which includes an enamel pin), and the Disney Movie Club (which offers standard packaging). For review the Steelbook edition was provided.




$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for rude humor, language, some thematic elements and brief violence.
Voices of Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Marco Barricelli, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan, Sacha Baron Cohen.

With Luca, Pixar delivers a wonderfully realized rumination about growing up, exploring the joys of the world and finding friends who also might be just a little bit different.

The film follows the tradition of earlier Disney tales such as Splash and The Little Mermaid, but with a distinctly Italian flair. Luca (Jacob Tremblay) is a young sea monster who yearns to learn about the wider world, but is limited to a life shepherding goatfish under the sea. One day, while looking through a number of human objects that fell from a boat, he encounters Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), an orphaned sea monster who teaches Luca that when they go onto land and dry out, their bodies become human.

They have fun with their misadventures on the lonely island where Alberto lives, dreaming of one day obtaining a Vespa so they can travel the world. But when Luca’s parents take notice of his time on land, they threaten to send him to live with his uncle in the ocean deep. So, Alberto convinces Luca to run away to the sleepy Italian fishing village nearby to hide out. There, they meet Giulia (Emma Berman), who recruits them to form a team for an upcoming race, hoping to defeat the bully Ercole.

But they also learn there is a bounty for killing sea monsters, which they are revealed to be whenever they get wet. In addition, Luca’s parents come ashore themselves to search him out, leading to a funny bit in which they assume every boy they encounter could be Luca because they don’t know what he looks like as a human.

Director Enrico Casarosa based much of the film on his boyhood in Genoa, Italy, using the concept of the sea monster as a metaphor for not quite fitting in.

The film is beautifully animated in typical Pixar fashion, and so evocative of its oceanside environment that viewers can virtually feel the sun on their face and the water at their feet.

The Blu-ray includes a compilations of storyboards for about 30 minutes of deleted sequences, included a couple of alternate openings. There are also three making-of featurettes running about 35 minutes total.

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Good Boys


Street Date 11/12/19;
Box Office $83.08 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong crude sexual content, drug and alcohol material, and language throughout — all involving tweens.
Stars Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori Francis, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Josh Caras, Will Forte, Sam Richardson, Stephen Merchant.

As Master Yoda once said, “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” But what happens when you make them wonder about sex, drugs and random debauchery?

And that’s where Good Boys comes in, and the fact that it comes from Seth Rogen’s production team pretty much explains exactly what to expect from the film.

It’s Stand by Me meets American Pie, a satire of the simplistic perspective kids tend to have of things. As such, it mines the intersection of the innocence of children and the seediness of the adult world for great laughs.

The question of whether how appropriate it is for such a young cast to form the basis of a film like this is not lost on the filmmakers and comes up several times in the bonus materials. Before the film had come out they had already hit upon the audacious marketing hook that the film was too raunchy for its young stars to even see it. Nowhere is this concept more prominent than on the film’s own Blu-ray box art, which comes emblazoned with an oversized graphic of the MPAA ‘R’ rating and the three main characters glancing upward at a line proclaiming “You Must Be This Tall to See This Movie.”

The film stars up-and-comer Jacob Tremblay as 12-year-old Max, who gets invited to a kissing party and freaks out because he doesn’t want his inexperience to scare off the girl that he likes. So he enlists his best friends, Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) to help him research how to kiss. Eventually, the group, who call themselves the Bean Bag Boys, decide to use an expensive drone that is the prized possession of Max’s father (Will Forte) to spy on some local teenagers making out.

But when the drone gets destroyed, the Bean Bag Boys must scheme to come up with the funds to replace it, skip school and embark on a trek to the local mall (a distant journey of at least four miles) to replace it before Max’s dad gets home and grounds him so that he can’t go to the party. Along the way, they must deal with the teenagers they were spying on hunting them down for drugs they accidentally stole, not to mention cops, frat boys, sex toys and the peer pressure of drinking more than three sips of beer.

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The Blu-ray includes a fun, laid-back commentary from the film’s co-writers — director Gene Stupnitsky and producer Lee Eisenberg — that covers many of the inspirations for the film and the specific jokes involved.

There’s a two-minute alternate ending and more than 10 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, many of which are alluded to in the commentary.

Also included is a two-minute gag reel and six featurettes that provide about 14 minutes of behind-the-scenes material. These offer the usual tidbits about the cast and filmmaking process, including the interesting nugget that the school used in the film was Tremblay’s actual school in Vancouver.

But it all comes back to the filthy language used by the young stars, and some hilarious discussions about how they have no idea what the dialogue they’ve been given to say actually means.

The mind of a child, indeed.

Universal Releasing ‘Good Boys’ Digitally Oct. 29, on Disc Nov. 12

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release the ‘R’-rated comedy Good Boys through digital retailers Oct. 29, and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 12.

The story involves 12-year-old Max (Jacob Tremblay) being invited to a kissing party and asking his best friends Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams) for pointers on how to kiss. After they accidentally destroy the precious drone of Max’s dad (Will Forte), they skip school and embark on an epic misadventure to replace it, avoiding the cops while encountering accidentally stolen drugs, frat-house paintball and two terrifying teenage girls (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis).

The film earned $73.3 million at the domestic box office.

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Home video extras include feature commentary with director/co-writer Gene Stupnitsky and producer/co-writer Lee Eisenberg; an unrated alternate ending; unrated deleted and extended scenes; a gag reel; the featurette “Boys for Real,” a look into the casting process and real-life friendships that evolved on-set; “Welcome to Vancouver,” in which Tremblay shows off some of his favorite things about his hometown; “A Fine Line,” in which the filmmakers and cast discuss the raunchy dialogue; “Ask Your Parents,” in which the cast and filmmakers talk about how they were able to navigate adult questions from curious child actors; “Bad Girls,” a discussion with Molly Gordon and Midori Francis; and the featurette “Guest Stars,” about some of the cameos in the film.