How Bad Could Live-Action Flounder Really Be – Oh God, oh Fuck

How bad could it be?

That’s the question I had to ask myself as I sat down in front of the final trailer for the live-action Little Mermaid remake, because all I’ve heard about it is this: those fucking fish are weird. The curse of any live-action Disney remake is to turn the fun animal sidekicks (or leading characters) into something that doesn’t resemble a child’s nightmare vision of a stuffed animal that’s been tormented with the curse of sentience – basically, avoid the Cats fiasco, and you should be fine.

I was a huge fan of The Little Mermaid growing up, and, more than anything, of the fish and other aquatic cartoon coterie that made up the cast; Under the Sea is still Disney’s greatest slice of original soundtrackery, and I will fight anyone on this.

Anyway, now I’ve taken a fifteen minute break to listen to Under the Sea nine times in a row, let’s talk about this trailer – and this Flounder.

Look, tonally, this is objectively hilarious. It looks like a dark, gritty reboot of The Little Mermaid, with the music cues to match; this soundtrack belongs in Oppenheimer, not in a live-action version of Kiss the Girl. Melissa McCarthy is a fun choice as Ursula, though, with drag bigger than it’s ever been in America and facing such opposition, it would have been great to see an actual drag queen fill out a character so inspired by one.

But Flounder – oh, no, buddy, what have they done to you? Look at how they massacred my boy! I would rather had seen him turned into dinner to spare him from this fate, but he looks dreadful. In this version of the movie, is Flounder also cursed by Ursula to live his life as a fish or something? It’s the only way this makes sense – there is something so lacking behind the eyes here as to make him look like a victim of something terrible, unthinkable. If this thing talked to me, I would stamp it to death with my heel at once, and I’ve been vegetarian for more than twenty years now. My gut reaction to this level of distinct wrongness feels similar to what people describe when they see a UFO or something – utterly against the schema of how I understand the world, and therefore I must destroy it to move on with my life.

Honestly, I think he was kind of doomed from the start – you can make a photorealistic fish or you can make a fish with some level of human expressiveness, but you are physically unable to do both. I’ve seen the Sebastian from this version of the movie, and he really doesn’t look anywhere as bad as this, mainly because he’s far more stylized and cartoony and expressive. Flounder, though? Flounder was doomed from the start. He just looks like an actual fish, and watching Ariel grab him by his fins and shake him around feels more like assault than it does playful joshing.

How bad could it be? That bad. Really, really that bad.

If you enjoyed this small slice of nonsense and want to see more stuff like it,  please consider supporting us on Ko-Fi. You can check out more of my silliness on my personal blog, The Cutprice Guignol!

By Lou MacGregor

(header image via CNN)

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