Netflix’s Most Popular Movie Is A Brutal Parody Of Disney

By Danny Gallagher | Published

  • Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is the #1 movie on Netflix.
  • Overlooked in theaters, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken was a flop for DreamWorks.
  • Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken came out weeks after Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid.
  • The timing of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken’s release could have been better, but its villain will look familiar.

You’re not alone if you’ve never heard of the animated kids movie Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken. DreamWorks’ bizarre, dark tale about an awkward teenage girl who learns she’s the royal heir to an army of sea creatures started with a theatrical release in 2023 and bombed at the box office. That’s because it dared to compete with a cinematic juggernaut last year: Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

A Box Office Bomb

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken starred the voices of Lana Condor, Annie Murphy, Jane Fonda, and Will Forte, costing $70 million. However, it only made $5.5 million on its opening weekend in June last year. It’s not hard to find the reason it bombed. The film had a non-existent marketing scheme in addition to the competition it faced with The Little Mermaid remake released the previous Memorial Day weekend that built its marketing scheme with all the online chatter it created.

Those That Saw It, Loved It

Critically, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken fared much better. The movie holds a 65 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 98 film reviews and even higher with audiences with an 81 percent audience rating. Critic Marah Eakin from the Chicago Reader says the movie “runs along fairly well-trod kid or teen movie storylines” but eventually “turns into something bigger and better than your average kids’ pic.”

Bright Colors, Dark Tone

Considering its competition’s subject matter, it’s also a bold choice for DreamWorks. Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken plays like a darker-than-average Disney film, especially when you put it next to the high caliber of both of Disney’s Little Mermaid movies. Ruby is a shy kid who finds out she’s the royal ruler of an army of legendary sea creatures. The imagery and atmosphere may look bright and colorful, like the wall of a pre-K classroom, but the story takes some dark and bold chances for a kids’ flick.

Attempt At An Anti-Disney Kid’s Movie

Writer Pam Brady probably helped shape the script in those darker and trickier directions. She’s best known for her work on Comedy Central’s South Park and films like Team America: World Police, Hamlet 2, and Hot Rod. Brady isn’t afraid to take risks with her comedies. Even though Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken isn’t meant to be an edgy comedy for grownups, it’s also not afraid to be an anti-Disney-esque movie in a similar genre.

The Most Popular Movie On Netflix

It almost feels like the makers of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken were purposely trying to compete with The Little Mermaid remake that every armchair critic knew would become a big box office and critical success. Perhaps the marketing team thought they could ride the coat-tails of Disney’s marketing machine, generated by its latest live-action remake, and pick up an audience in search of something new but similar since there was almost no marketing for the movie.

If you missed Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken in the theaters (and the chances of that are pretty much a guarantee), you can check it out on Netflix for your next family movie night.