Much has been said about Halle Bailey as Ariel, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, and Javier Bardem as King Triton in the upcoming The Little Mermaid (2023) film. But regardless of how the film does at the box office, it’s worth discussing the many animal sidekicks who often get side-lined.
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Ariel’s best friend is actually NOT a flounder. He is a tropical yellow fish with a cowardly demeanor. An original character for the first The Little Mermaid (1989) film, he also appeared in every episode of The Little Mermaid television series and returned in The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea (2000). Easter eggs featuring Flounder can be seen in the final battle of Ant-Man (2015) and among the tapa cloth fishes during the song “You’re Welcome” in Moana (2016).
The upcoming movie’s modern version of Flounder has been criticized for looking too skinny, depressed, and life-like.
Meanwhile, Jacob Tremblay, who voices the fish in the movie, defends the new appearance. “I think that they were geniuses and they knew exactly what they were doing,” Tremblay said.
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Second only to Flounder as the most recognizable animated animal in The Little Mermaid (1989) is Sebastian. Everyone’s favorite crab serves as King Triton’s advisor and court composer. Tasked with having to watch after Ariel, he follows along with her throughout most of her journey in the original film. Like Flounder, he appears in every episode of the animated series and The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea (2000).
Again, similar to Flounder, his appearance in the upcoming film has been criticized. Disney had recently released footage of Sebastian (voiced by Daveed Diggs) singing “Under the Sea.”
The original film’s goofy seagull was voiced by late comedian Buddy Hackett. Living on the coast of Prince Eric’s Kingdom, Scuttle is a self-proclaimed expert on all things human, introducing Ariel famously to the dinglehopper and snarfblatt. He becomes a crucial ally in exposing Ursula in the animated classic’s final act. Originally a male character, in the new live-action, Scuttle is a female bird voiced by Akwafina.
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Although it will be interesting to see how all these animal sidekicks will be received once The Little Mermaid (2023) is officially released in theaters on May 26, they will remain classic Disney characters nonetheless. And of course they can all be seen at Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks between rides, shows, and parades.