Weekend film reviews: ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘You Hurt My Feelings’

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Sarah Sweeney

Halle Bailey plays Ariel and Melissa McCarthy plays Ursula in the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Credit: YouTube.

The latest film releases include “The Little Mermaid,” “You Hurt My Feelings,” “About My Father,” and “The Wrath of Becky.” KCRW gets reviews from William Bibbiani, film critic and co-host of the podcasts Canceled Too Soon and Critically Acclaimed; and Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast Unspooled and film reviewer for the New York Times.

“The Little Mermaid” 

This live-action remake of the classic Disney film stars Halle Bailey as Ariel and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula. 

Nicholson: “They tweak the script so that Ariel doesn't really want the man. She just wants to go to land. She wants to lose her voice so that she can go to land and see what everything is like up there. This movie is a lot longer than the original. … They've added this new developed relationship between the prince and Ariel that actually I think is pretty strong. 

But honestly, the problem is just that making this realistic animation underwater is mostly a miss. The hair looks great, but there's so much debris in the sea that the beauty gets lost. The action scenes are muddled. The musical numbers are pretty bad.”

Bibbiani: “The biggest miracle in this movie is that they didn't completely screw it up. I think the cast is actually really solid. I think Halle Bailey is quite fantastic, actually very charismatic, she can really sing. And a lot of the supporting characters are doing a great job.

… They want to keep all of the key scenes from the original, but they also want to add new stuff. And the new stuff makes the stuff from the original not work anymore.”

“You Hurt My Feelings” 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus portrays a writer who spirals after she finds out what her husband really thinks about her latest book.

Bibbiani: “It is a movie about interpersonal conflicts in relationships that last a really long time. And so many movies are focused only on the beginning of romance — that these kinds of films about how communication and relationships evolve over years, if not decades, sometimes don't even get made. So it's always a treat when one is done intelligently. And it's so nicely well acted at the same time. 

This is a movie about a bunch of extremely wealthy people in New York City, whose biggest problem is: ‘Oh, no, my husband was trying to spare my feelings because he didn't like my second book as much as the first.’ … There are bigger problems.  … That being said, the idea of that level of communication is important to a long-term relationship. … The movie is basically one long, very involved therapy session.”

Nicholson: “I found it extremely relatable. And I enjoyed what it is saying at this moment in time because it really is about: What is the cost of a white lie? … I saw myself in so many scenes of this movie that I called my boyfriend afterwards, and I was like, ‘We've lived a third of this film.’ … It's starting a conversation I'd like us to have as a larger culture.”

“About My Father”

This comedy stars Robert De Niro and Sebastian Maniscalco as father and son. Maniscalco’s character is encouraged by his fiancee to bring his immigrant father on a trip with her wealthy family.

Nicholson: “This story is just very, very wonky because part of what's happening here is yes, if this weekend goes well, Sebastian will propose to his girlfriend, who is played by Leslie Bibb, who I always enjoy even though here she's just playing this character who is so upbeat and inane. She's like Mary Tyler Moore on a very heavy dose of molly. … But you just keep getting thrown off by the fact that maybe this script and this casting would have worked 10 or 15 years ago. But these actors are in their late 40s. And there's something very often ‘Failure to Launch’-y about a movie with actors this old who are still just very fixated on parental approval and have not yet been to therapy. … Nothing in this movie seems plausible in the slightest.”

Bibbiani: “I think it's not particularly well made. But I think that there's something kind of sweet about it. And I think this is the kind of movie that a certain … generation perhaps might be comfortable seeing on Father's Day.” 

“The Wrath of Becky”

This is a sequel to the 2020 film “Becky” starring Lulu Wilson. In this, a 16-year-old girl played by Wilson tries to rebuild her life after surviving a violent attack.

Nicholson: “This movie is just her killing more Nazis again, with added shades of ‘John Wick’ because now the Nazis have also stolen her dog. This is a movie that I think is actually directed with some sort of style and humor, and it is not afraid to get gory. But the script is so thin that you are just sitting around in the middle stretch, waiting for her just to start killing everybody.” 

Bibbiani: “The first movie was about her trying to protect her family against the home invasion. And then this one, the table's turned, and now she is single-handedly performing a violent home invasion against white supremacists with sinister plans. I really am enjoying what Becky is sort of unexpectedly turning into — this kind of minor, but very satisfying … low- budget franchise. … I look forward to seeing if it can grow because these movies are very, very fun.”