CNN  — 

As the movie that began Disney’s animation renaissance in 1989, a live-action “The Little Mermaid” comes with big fins to fill. Thanks largely to star Halle Bailey, the lavish musical holds up nicely under the weight of those expectations, preserving the original’s essence while updating undernourished aspects of it and riding a warm, hard-to-resist wave of nostalgia.

Older kids might be jaded about the prospect of heading under the sea again, but parents and younger ones should find a lot to like in the studio’s latest exercise in leaving no intellectual property unexploited. While that has produced a mixed bag of live-action adaptations, “The Little Mermaid” happily falls more toward the “Beauty and the Beast” end of the gene pool than, say, “Dumbo” or the recent Disney+ misfire “Pinocchio.”