There's Something Fishy About 'The Little Mermaid' Audience Ratings — Update — Critics Must Be Crazy (2023)

Updated 5/29/23 with a review below. Turns out I really liked this movie! Second update 5/31/23.

Something crazy is happeningThe little MermaidRotten Tomato user reviews. I fully expected this film to do better with critics than audiences, given how the culture wars usually work.

Instead, the reviewer rating is just 67% as of this writing, while audiences give it a whopping 95%—significantly higher thanThe jungle book86%. This movie scored 94% from critics.


This is actually quite similar toThe movie Super Mario Bros.which scored just 59% with critics while 96% of fans commented positively on the filmon Rotten Tomatoes. But this is reflected almost exactly on Metacritic, whereThe movie Super Mario Brosit scored just a 46 with critics, but scored an 86 with audiences.

Meanwhile, Metacritic'sThe little MermaidThe page reflects almost the exact opposite of Rotten Tomatoes:


This is much more in line with what I expected to happen with the audience reviews, as this film has been so embroiled in culture war discussions around race-swapping, "wokeness" and so on, as well as Disney fatigue. Many people who aren't at all invested in the culture wars, however, are sick of live-action remakes.

I totally get itOutrageousthat this film would be rated much higher with the public than with the critics. Critics, while not entirely politically aligned, are far more likely as a group to be sympathetic to social justice politics and less reactive to changes made to beloved classics than the average moviegoer. I would expect this film to have a fairly wide spread of negative and positive reviews, and a score within striking distance of the critics' score (a little higher or a little lower, but not nearly 30 points higher!)

Indeed, its live-action remakeThe little Mermaidhe scores nowveryhigher with public thanthe 1989 cartoon classic, which sits at 88% with audiences and 92% with critics. We have to believe that moviegoers love the remakeeven morefrom the original? This was definitely not the caseBeauty and the Beast,which did better with critics and audiences as a cartoon by a wide margin.


(Video) The Little Mermaid Audience Score LOCKED at 95%? Something Smells FISHY!

Do I think Metacritic's 2.1 accurately reflects the quality of this film? Definitely no. CinemaScore actually has audience members giving it an 'A' grade, so it's definitely warmly received.Beauty and the Beast’sThe live-action remake also earned an "A" CinemaScore, but reached an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.

I know that Rotten Tomatoes takes user review moderation seriously and tries to prevent reviewers from being bombarded, but these scores seem inflated beyond what is realistically possible for a film that is receiving such a lukewarm reception from critics.Peter Pan & Wendy,Disney's latest live-action remake,scored slightly lower thanThe little Mermaidwith critics(62%) but completely bombed with audiences at just 11%.

Even simplycasual forum observationand social media, you see a pretty wide range of reactions, from wild praise to "meh, it was okay" to "that was hot garbage." There is no way that 95% on Rotten Tomatoes or 2.1 on Metacritic is an accurate reflection of what people are saying about this movie in the real world. Make of it what you will.


Finally, I should point out that what Rotten Tomatoes shows on its front page are the "Verified Audience" ratings, but you can click on "All Audience" and suddenly it's a very different picture:

This seems like a more realistic reflection of what has become a very controversial film. Controversy leads to negative reviews. (Note: The indisputableSuper Mario Bros. Moviegets 95% with "All Audience" and 96% with "Verified Audience".)

Likewise, if you click on Top Reviewers instead of All Reviewers, you'll see the rating drop to just 47%. This aligns even more closely with all audiences. Weirder and weirder.

I haven't seen it yet. This is not a criticism, obviously. I think it looks fine. My biggest concern with all of these live-action remakes is that they almost always lose at least some of the magic that the original animated versions had. Even the ones I've enjoyed, likeBeauty and the Beast,I then think, "Well, I'd rather just see the original!"


And honestly:Wouldn't you?

UPDATE #1: Movie review

The Little Mermaid Review: A Delightful Surprise

There is a fun scene in the new oneLittle Mermaidlive-action film where Ariel grabbed a hat from Prince Eric, playfully knocking him on the head after grabbing it from the peddler's head. Later, Scuttle steals the hat to have the pair follow the bird to the lagoon so they can serenade the would-be lovers with a slightly altered version of himKiss the girl.

(Video) Little Mermaid CALLED OUT For "FAKE" Audience Ratings - Disney PANICS!


Well, speaking of hats, time to eat mine. I was deeply skeptical of this latest Disney remake. I've been sold on the whole project for some time now and thought this was going to be another soulless cash grab by the House of Mouse. I was wrong. The critics must be crazy, because this is an absolutely delightful picture and is quite possibly my favorite of all the live-action remakes of the princess.

Much of this is due to the powerful performance—and the songs—of lead Halle Bailey as Ariel. She's gorgeous throughout, perfectly capturing everything we loved about the original Ariel, but adding a bit more depth and adventure to the character. She and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric have great chemistry, which definitely helps. Indeed, the entire cast is great and the covers of old songs are a lot of fun.

Is it a perfect movie? No way. There are a few new songs and the only one I liked is the Scuttle rap, performed by Awkwafina with some harmonizing by Sebastian. Daveed Diggs is great as the grumpy major-domo of the crabs.


But the new song about Prince Eric is forgotten, as is Ariel's new number. It pales in comparisonUnder the seaandPart of your worldboth are wonderfully adapted here. Bailey's singing voice really elevatesPart of your worldto a whole new level. It's brilliant. But I miss the cartoon versionUnder the sea,with all the fish on their musical instruments. And I wish they had given Ariel and Eric a duet. Alas, the new songs we get only highlight how much better the old songs remain, adding nothing but runtime we definitely don't need.

My biggest complaint is the fish. I don't like the effort to make Sebastian and Flounder (Jacob Tremblay) seem "realistic". You lose a lot of the fun expressiveness of these characters going that route. I'm excited that the movie was so bright and colorful after the trailers made it seem so much less, but I honestly dislike the art direction for the aquatic creatures. It makes no sense and really diminishes these characters in the process.

Rounding out the cast is Javier Bardem as King Triton, where he does a great job as the strict then yielding father. His emotional farewell to Ariel hit all the right notes. (The multiracial brood of his daughters makes you think he really went under the sea too). I don't think I'd cast Bardem in this role, personally, but maybe that's partly because I can't really shake his performance inNo country for old people.


I was leery of Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, but she also does a great job capturing everything about the original villain perfectly. Her comedic timing and charm really pay off here.

Overall, this ended up being a really pleasant surprise for me and my kids. We all went in a bit tired and skeptical and we all left with smiles on our faces, although my daughter and I cried like babies at the end. I'm really a shouter when it comes to father/daughter or father/son stuff and this tugged at the heartstrings just right. Probably the best of Disney's live-action movies, which I'm shocked—but happy—to report. It definitely dragged on a bit (cut those new songs!) which is an unfortunate trend with movies these days, but I still enjoyed it all the way through.

(Video) The Little Mermaid - Absolute Bilge

I guess you can lump me in with the audience on this one, although if I had to pick a rating I'd probably say 7.5/10. I amyetIt's surprising that it's getting such a high audience critical score, but it's really worth seeing on the big screen. I'm glad I was wrong!


Here is my video review:

Update #2: IMDB gives opportunities for user ratings

This movie has really got people talking - and arguing - about a lot of things. While I think the scores on Rotten Tomatoes seem inflated, even though it's a much better film than I expected, it's clear that there's a lot of review-bombing going on elsewhere, and a lot of it is being bot-fed.


I am not reflexively anti-criticism-bomb. There are times when a product is so bad or so broken or has ridiculous revenue practices (in the case of some video games, for example, with loot boxes or ridiculously priced microtransactions) that review-bombing can be seen as another tool in the consumer's toolbox. Outside of voting with one's wallet or posting on social media, consumers have very little power. Criticism-bombing works somewhat like a boycott.

In some cases, it has its place. In others, it simply obscures any nuance we hope to achieve. There are many interesting questions aroundThe little Mermaidremake, and I don't think it boils down easily to "racists vs. anti-racists," though obviously racism is a factor.

At IMDB, the site has taken steps to undo the impact of the critical bombardment and paint a hopefully more accurate portrait of moviegoers' true opinions of the film.Gizmodo reports:


TheDisney live action remakewas widely released on May 26 and has since received over 32,000 reviews on IMDb, where it currently stands at 7 out of 10. Of these, more than 13,000 have given the film 1 star. A small notice at the top of the ratings page reads: “Our rating engine has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To maintain the credibility of the rating system, an alternative weighting calculation was implemented.'

AccordingIMDb FAQ, the site publishes "weighted vote averages" and warns that "When unusual voting activity is detected, an alternative weighting calculation may be applied in order to maintain the reliability of our system." The site doesn't say what kind of mechanism it uses to rate movies.


(Video) There's Something Strange About Little Mermaid Reviews | Box Office | Walt Disney Studios

This doesn't just apply to unusually low reviews:

IMDb has issued this notice in the past for online movie vote stuffing like with Bollywood movieThe Kasmir Fileswhich was released in March. At that time, the movie was getting a lot of positive reviews and the average user rating was lower. Directed by Vivek Agnihotrihe complainedThe site's review manipulation was "unusual and unethical."

In all honesty, removing all 1 and 10 star reviews and removing the rest would probably result in more accurate ratings. Having seen the movie, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it deserves more than 1 star, but a perfect 10 it is not.

Meanwhile, Gizmodo reports that in Europe things are even worse. German website Moviepilot has audience ratings of 0.7/10, which is clearly the work of trolls and political activists.


This is all an example of the very culture war I wrote about at the top of this post. If the absurdly high Rotten Tomatoes score of 95% is fine, so are the absurdly low scores we see elsewhere. 13,000 1-star votes on IMDB is certainly fishy, ​​but so is a site that moderates user and audience reviews without transparency.

There are no easy answers here, clearly, and we're stuck arguing and arguing about a children's movie. Art imitates life and our entertainment reflects the real world behind us. Movies and TV shows, music and video games are becoming bloody battlegrounds in these strange latter-day culture wars about race and gender and all the rest.

But also remember that the most vocal people involved in these wars are perennially online and do not represent the majority on either side. I remain convinced that we all have more in common than what separates us. But then again, hope springs eternal.


Tell me your thoughts onTwittertheFacebook.

As always, I'd love it if you didfollow me here on this blogandsubscribe to my YouTube channelandmy substackso you can stay up-to-date on all my TV, movie and video game reviews and coverage. Thanks!


(Video) The Little Mermaid - Movie Review


Why is The Little Mermaid getting bad reviews? ›

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has made changes to its rating system for Disney's live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” after the new release became the latest target for “review bombing” — a practice in which a production is flooded with negative reviews by users who wield multiple accounts or employ bots to ...

Why is The Little Mermaid Rated PG? ›

"The Little Mermaid" is rated PG for action/peril and some scary images. Its running time is 135 minutes.

How well is The Little Mermaid doing? ›

Box Office Revenue of The Little Mermaid 2023

The film made a significant impact during its opening weekend, grossing an estimated $163.5 million, which includes a three-day opening of $95.5 million domestically and an international box office collection of $68.3 million.

What is the Little Mermaid 2023 rated? ›

What is the mental illness in The Little Mermaid? ›

In the movie The Little Mermaid (Clements & Musker, 1989), Ariel displays symptoms of disposophobia, which is defined as the fear of getting rid of things.

Who is the bad character in mermaid cartoon? ›

Ursula is a fictional character who appears as the main antagonist in Walt Disney Pictures' 28th animated feature film The Little Mermaid (1989).

What is the sad ending of Little mermaid? ›

The prince and princess celebrate their new marriage aboard a wedding ship, and the Little Mermaid's heart breaks. She thinks of all that she has sacrificed and of all the pain she has endured for the prince.

What age is Little mermaid for? ›

Common Sense Media recommends The Little Mermaid for children ages 5 and up, due to some scary moments (e.g., when King Triton angrily destroys Ariel's collection of human objects, or when Ursula the Sea Witch becomes gigantic) and the French chef's bloodthirsty attempts to kill Sebastian the crab; but their review ...

When did The Little Mermaid lose her head? ›

The headless mermaid

Twice she has lost her head, once the arm was sawn off, and several times she has had paint poured on her.

Why is the mermaid rated R? ›

Content: -3 Excessive sex, violence, immorality, and/or worldview problems. (Sometimes excessive content such as violence is in otherwise redemptive movies.)

Is Ariel 16 in The Little Mermaid? ›

Ariel is famously 16 years old in the animated version of The Little Mermaid, a year older than the titular mermaid in Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, the literary fairytale on which both Disney versions are based.

Who is Ariel's dad in The Little Mermaid 2023? ›

Javier Bardem as King Triton, Ariel's strict and overprotective father and the ruler of Atlantica who is prejudiced against humans due to the death of his wife at hands of one of them.

Is Oceans 8 appropriate? ›

It isn't recommended for children under 13 years because of its coarse language, sexual references and scenes, and drug use. These are the main messages from Ocean's Eight: Crime can pay very well. You won't get caught if you're clever and plan your crime well.

Why is Oceans 8 rated MA? ›

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Flirting/kissing. In one scene, a woman in lingerie seduces her partner and handcuffs him to his bed (he's shirtless). Several works of art featuring nudity are on display.

Why is SpongeBob 2004 Rated PG? ›

One of the most noted citizens of this microcosm is a four-sided little character named SpongeBob SquarePants (voice of Tom Kenny). Why is The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie rated PG? The MPAA rated The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie PG for some mild crude humor.

What mental illness does Dora have? ›

Dora is far from simply a case of hysterical neurosis, but her pathology not only reflects the dynamics of the paranoid process, but also falls within the range of the borderline spectrum of personality disorders that have been described previously (Meissner 1982b.).

What mental disorder does Snow White have? ›

Snow White can be classified as having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Princess meets all eight of the criteria listed in the DSM-V to diagnose PTSD (See Appendix A). First, she directly experiences a traumatic event relating to a near death experience (Criterion A1).

Which Disney Princess has schizophrenia? ›

Pocahontas - Pocahontas

The sad truth is poor Pochaontas is a schizophrenic. Wandering off from her tribe, she spends her days playing out her delusions in the wilderness of rural Virginia and the shock announcement that she is to be married to one of her father's warriors only increased the intensity of them.

Does mermaid have gender? ›

Although traditions about and sightings of mermen are less common than those of mermaids, they are generally assumed to co-exist with their female counterparts. The male and the female collectively are sometimes referred to as merfolk or merpeople.

Who is the main villain in mermaid? ›

Ursula, also called The Sea Witch or Vanessa in her human form, is the main antagonist of Disney's The Little Mermaid franchise. She is Ariel and Triton's arch-nemesis and is loosely based upon the sea witch in the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name.

Is Little mermaid tragic? ›

After the prince and princess are married, the little mermaid is devastated as she thinks about all the sacrifices she has made for her man, she's also terrified that she'll die when it's dawn. But her sisters try rescuing her by giving her a knife they took from that damn witch by sacrificing their gorgeous hair.

Who was the mermaid girl that died? ›

Shiloh Pepin, a girl who was born with fused legs, a rare condition often called "mermaid syndrome," and gained a wide following on the Internet and national television, has died. She was 10.

What are the two versions on the ending of the story The Little Mermaid? ›

Despite these consistencies, the story has changed over time. For example, in some versions of the story, the little mermaid survives and lives happily ever after with the prince. In other versions, she dies at the end of the story. The changes in the story reflect the time periods in which they were written.

What happened to Ursula at the end of Little Mermaid? ›

Ariel manages to navigate the broken ship in a way to kill Ursula in the process. As soon as Ursula dies, King Triton is brought back to life. Ariel is still not allowed to see Prince Eric while the prince is kept from going back to the sea.

Is The New Little mermaid okay for kids? ›

Younger kids who are familiar with the cartoon may be able to handle the more intense aspects of this version, but the live-action element definitely heightens the peril of scenes like the shark chase, the storm at sea, the shipwreck, and the big, climactic fight scene between Ursula, Ariel, and Eric.

What is the message of The Little Mermaid? ›

There's No Dream Too Big or Too Small

The lesson here is that if we were to give up during challenges, we would never reach our dreams. But if you try your best, you can succeed.

How old were Ariel and Eric? ›

Ariel and Eric

Ariel was just 16 in The Little Mermaid when she made a deal with the sea witch Ursula so she could pursue Prince Eric, who was 18, on the land!

Who is the oldest mermaid? ›

One of the earliest mermaid legends appeared in Syria around 1000 BC when the goddess Atargatis dove into a lake to take the form of a fish. As the gods there would not allow her to give up her great beauty, only her bottom half became a fish, and she kept her top half in human form.

Who is the dark haired girl in The Little Mermaid? ›

Vanessa and Ariel wear their hair in the same style, have nearly identical facial structures, and comparable body types. Although they wear their hair styled in the same way, Vanessa's long hair is dark brown and wavy, reaching to the small of her back, in contrast to Ariel's straight fire-red long hair.

Is there a deaf mermaid in The Little Mermaid? ›

Gabriella is a recurring character in the animated series The Little Mermaid. She is a deaf mermaid who communicates in American Sign Language; her friend Ollie, an octopus, serves as her interpreter.

Is The Princess Rated R? ›

The Princess is rated R by the MPAA for strong/bloody violence and some language. Violence: A woman is seen with her wrists chained and lying in a bed. A woman headbutts a man. A woman strikes a man with a chain: blood spurts from his face.

Is Mako Mermaids appropriate? ›

The show is geared toward teens, but it's likely to draw in younger fans as well if they're granted access to Netflix. For the most part, the content is conducive to this wide span of ages, save for some tense moments when characters are in danger or fear their magical powers might be discovered.

How old is the girl in mermaids? ›

Set in small-town America in 1963, it tells the story of the nomadic Flax family: young single mother Rachel (Cher), nine-year-old water-baby Kate (Christina Ricci) and 15-year-old Charlotte (Winona Ryder), who is grappling with the things teenagers grapple with – identity, sexuality, shoes – as she searches for ...

What ethnicity is Ariel? ›

Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
FamilyKing Triton (father) Queen Athena (mother) Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista and Andrina (older sisters) Ursula (paternal aunt in some media)
SpousePrince Eric
13 more rows

Was Ariel 16 when she got married? ›

She also finally figured out that she was only sixteen when they got married, and you know, people change. She is currently 41 years old, and leading a caravan in Asia, with her lover, a handsome Indian explorer named Sayid.

Is Ariel Italian or Danish? ›

Ariel's story really begins in Ancient Greece. According to lore, she is a nereid, one of the dozens of daughters of the sea-god Triton.

Is Sebastian a lobster or a crab? ›

Sebastian (full name Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian) is a crab and one of the main protagonists in Disney's 1989 hit film The Little Mermaid, its prequel film, its TV series, and its sequel.

Is Poseidon Ariel's father? ›

Poseidon is the father of King Triton, and therefore the paternal grandfather of Ariel and her sisters.

Is King Triton white? ›

This is a bright and cheery blue paint color, well suited to an accent wall paint color or an overall nautical appeal.

How much has the Little Mermaid 2023 made? ›

Critics praised the performances of the cast and the musical sequences, but criticized its visual effects and character designs, and the film has grossed $209 million worldwide, becoming the tenth-highest-grossing film of 2023.

Will The Little Mermaid break even? ›

'The Little Mermaid' Review: Rob Marshall's Live Action Take On Disney Animated Classic Is A Winner Both Above And Under The Sea. At that level, per finance sources, off a reported $250M production cost and $140M global marketing spend, The Little Mermaid could very well break-even.

How did The Little Mermaid do in box office 2023? ›

The sequel to the long running vehicular franchise has struggled at the domestic box office, earning a dispiriting $113.6 million after two weeks. It has performed better overseas, where it has earned nearly $400 million to bring it global haul north of $500 million, making it the third highest-grossing movie of 2023.

Is The Little Mermaid popular? ›

In fact, the film ultimately became the fifth-highest Memorial Day weekend opening movie of all time in the domestic market. Globally, box office receipts came in at $185.8 million.

How much did Halle Bailey get paid for The Little Mermaid movie? ›

The national average salary in America is $60,575 as of 2023, according to SoFi. Halle Bailey was reportedly paid 25 times that amount for starring as the red-headed mermaid Ariel in The Little Mermaid. The actress was compensated a whopping $1.5 million, according to Showbiz Galore.

Can Ariel turn into a mermaid? ›

Ursula makes a deal with Ariel to transform her into a human for three days ("Poor, Unfortunate Souls"). Within these three days, Ariel must receive the 'kiss of true love' from Eric; otherwise, she will transform back into a mermaid on the third day and belong to Ursula.

Does the Little Mermaid lose her voice? ›

The animated movie depicted Ariel losing her voice once she sets foot on land. However, this doesn't eliminate the possibility of the live-action adaptation showing Ariel voiceless for some part of the story.

Does Melody turn into a mermaid? ›

Melody is intrigued but skeptical about Morgana's claim, as she doubts she can become a mermaid. However, Morgana surprises her yet again when she reveals a potion that can turn her into a mermaid. Excited, Melody accepts and is transformed into a mermaid by a drop of the potion.

Did The Little Mermaid turn into foam? ›

The prince is captivated by her appearance but fails to recognize her - he only remembers being saved by a girl with a magical voice. Eventually he marries someone else. Broken hearted, the Little Mermaid throws herself off a cliff and turns into sea foam.

Did The Little Mermaid make money? ›

Disney's “The Little Mermaid” hooked nearly $96 million over its first three days in North American theaters. That opening is on par with the $91 million “Aladdin” secured in 2019 on its way to more than $1 billion at the global box office.

Is John Stamos in Little Mermaid? ›

John Stamos Played Chef Louis In 'The Little Mermaid Live'

What is the main message in The Little Mermaid? ›

Aside from the mistakes and challenges she went through, she still achieved her goal and got to explore the human world. The lesson here is that if we were to give up during challenges, we would never reach our dreams. But if you try your best, you can succeed.

Is Ursula a feminist? ›

Ursula, from the feminist perspective represents a character that exposes the realities behind society's expectations of women and as well as a more truthful relationship between men and women. She serves as an ideology critique but her character is that of a greedy, insensitive and evil witch that tricks Ariel.


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