(Editor’s note: The following interview contains some spoilers for “The Little Mermaid”.)
While Rob Marshall’s live-action take on Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid” firmly retains many of the elements that made Ron Clements and John Musker’s 1989 animated gem so successful, there are still plenty of material tweaks to hand. . And while Marshall and screenwriter David Magee have mostly added new material to the existing story (or offered clever changes to things like, ohhthe species of a certain croaking bird friend), there were a few things they cut out of their feature.
This includes one of the best – and, yes, silliest – musical sequences from the children’s original by Clements and Musker, ditty from the second act “Pisces”, sung by none other than René Auberjonois as a truly demented chef.
It’s arguably the wackiest sequence in the film, as it follows Sebastian the crab (voiced in the animated film by Samuel E. Wright; Daveed Diggs takes over for Marshall’s version and is an ace) as he makes his way through the nightmarish kitchen of the royal family. As chef Louis chops and shreds his way through a dizzying array of food items (read: many of Sebastian’s relatives), the wily crab attempts to hide, injecting serious physical comedy and wacky diversions into the film.
So what would it have been like in Marshall’s live-action world? Instead of tackling the sequence, Marshall and his team decided to cut it.
“Well, that was the question: (how) would it be? This is really an animation concept,” Marshall said during a recent interview with IndieWire. “It felt like a Saturday morning cartoon. That kind of thing, you really can do in animation, but in a different genre, it just wouldn’t work. That would be so silly.
It also didn’t fit Marshall’s overall vision for the story, not just in terms of how it looks, but also how it works in the moment in question.
“Plus, it takes a complete vacation from the story,” the director said. “So, you’re like, well, why is he there? I think if we filmed it, it would have been impossible to make it work, but it would also have been (cut) out, because it has nothing to do with (the story at the time). It’s a lovely song, but it doesn’t belong in a live-action movie. That was the real reason.”
Disney releases “The Little Mermaid” in theaters on Friday, May 26.