Now here is a movie that I did not expect to be remade nor genderswapped: Splash, that bubbly romantic comedy from 1984 in which New Yorker Tom Hanks falls in love with a mermaid named Madison (after the avenue, of course), played by Daryl Hannah. Except that in this version, Channing Tatum (22 Jump Street, Gambit) will be the merman, who catches the eye of human Jillian Bell (Workaholics, Idiotsitter).
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney is moving forward on the remake, to be written by Marja-Lewis Ryan (who also adapted Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In for the big screen) and directed by Ron Howard, who helmed the original. It makes sense, since Splash isn’t unlike The Little Mermaid: Mermaid saves man; mermaid gains legs and steps onto dry land; mermaid can’t speak at first, so man must figure out what she is trying to communicate while also not catching on to her true identity. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the movie, which I watched as a child, aside from Daryl Hannah smiling dumbly and doing ridiculous things like munching on a lobster (shell and all) at a fancy Manhattan restaurant and trying to dry her tail off with a hair dryer so that it would turn back into legs before Tom Hanks burst in on her in the bathroom. What a laugh riot, right?
And yet, my immediate response (which mirrors the other outlets I’ve seen report on this) to the news is that this is just delightful, though I can’t entirely put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because, in refreshing my memory on this movie, I realized how much of it is about an unlucky-in-love guy who gets saved—both literally and figuratively—by this exotic, otherworldly woman. With Tatum in the role of hunky merman (with, I assume, the same gratuitous nudity and rad hair as Hannah), you swap the emotional journey: He’ll learn to speak English and bring Bell’s character out of her cynical shell in service to her arc. Or at the very least, he’ll be like the new Ghostbusters’ Kevin—pretty comic relief, in scales.
Here’s the original trailer if, like me, you need a refresher:
And sure, why not: