The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s most beloved films. Because of this, you may have expected that a live version of the movie put on by a corporation with more money than god would have some good-looking fish in it. You, as becomes very clear when looking upon the trash heap version of Flounder that starred in last night’s The Little Mermaid Live! production, would be wrong.
Despite pulling together a cast that included Queen Latifah, John Stamos, and beloved thespian Shaggy, corners appear to have been cut when it came to designing fish costumes and puppets for a primarily underwater-set musical about singing, dancing, talking fish people. Nowhere is this clearer than in the character of Flounder, who’s represented by a collection of plastic and fabric that looks like it was collected from the sewage pipes of a local kindergarten.
It’s not just this version of Flounder, who looks like wadded-up toilet paper affixed to melted plastic, that’s weirdly half-assed, though. Check out this version of “Under The Sea,” now with a bored Shaggy in a Sebastian costume that can best be described as “lobster-themed fetish gear.”
His big number also sees groups of dancers in velour bodysuits and bicycle helmets swimming past schools of people wrapped in giant foam wedges and demented, dead-eyed puppets. These landfill fish—chief among them the reprehensible Flounder creature—may initially seem like a sign of weakness from the seemingly unstoppable House Of Mouse. That the company couldn’t help make the aquatic live show come across any better than a Santa Claus parade float comes across like a mistake on Disney’s part. But, think on this production longer and it starts to seem like a strategic move to make the upcoming live action-ish version of The Little Mermaid seem impressive-looking, even if its visual style is as crummy as other recent Disney outings. After all, when compared to this trash Flounder, even a movie version that overdubs a voice actor atop footage of a dead salmon bobbing in a fetid river might look downright magical.
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