+
upworthy
Pop Culture

Don't listen to the critics—Disney's new 'Little Mermaid' brings its own kind of magic

Finally, a live-action remake that breaks out of its shell in a cool way. The haters are just Poor, Unfortunate Souls.

little mermaid 2023, little mermaid tickets, halle bailey

You'll want to be part of this world.

Look, like many, I have utterly loathed Disney’s live-action remakes. In my opinion, they have either been a lazy, frame-by-frame rehashing of what we already know (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Lion King”) or the original essence is lost in trying to be cutting edge or topical (“Mulan”). Either way, audiences young and old are robbed of that special feeling promised by the Disney brand. Instead, we’re left wondering if we’ll ever have that feeling again.

This is, sadly, exactly what I expected for Disney’s live-action remake of 1989’s “The Little Mermaid.” To be more specific, I expected to get a wondrous performance by Halle Bailey as Ariel, which would ultimately be drowned out by mediocre storytelling.

And honestly, why shouldn’t I? Even before the movie premiered, there have been some questionable choices, such as changes to the song lyrics (not inherently bad, IMO, but would lead me to wonder if the songs themselves were dulled in some way), and having the animal characters like Sebastion and Flounder look like they belong in National Geographic…which I guess is still technically Disney nowadays but just ain’t right, ya know?

Headlines that have rolled in since the premiere, cleverly calling the film a “shallow,” “not bad…but not good,” and “poor unfortunate remake” certainly didn’t lessen my skepticism. All that to say, I went in thinking I’d come out completely unchanged, unmoved and unimpressed.

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

(Avast! Mild spoilers ahead, though I was purposely cryptic throughout.)


First off—the design is gorgeous. The mermaid kingdom is colorful and mesmerizing. The land kingdom is given a really cool Caribbean, Barbados-y flavor that adds a whole new dimension. The beginning scene on the ship brilliantly captures the mysterious beauty and dangerous majesty of the sea that once filled the hearts of sailors and brought us mermaid lore in the first place. 10/10. No notes.

Scene from "The Little Mermaid."

64.media.tumblr.com


Next, the musical numbers were on point. The classics hit in all the right places but were given a light, fresh touch by the incomparable Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also added in a fun new rap song called “Scuttlebutt,” which as you can imagine, incorporates Miranda’s next-level wordsmith skills.

Also, the supporting characters definitely held their own, not least of which being Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of the sassy, brassy, kinda scary sea witch Ursula.

via GIPHY

I know that I am probably the only one on the planet who wasn’t entirely excited when it was announced that McCarthy would be playing the role. (She’s talented and lovely, don’t get me wrong…I just don’t normally resonate with her usual shtick.) But, as the kids say, McCarthy ATE AND LEFT NO CRUMBS. The way she honored Ursula’s vocal mannerisms alone had me sold. And that belt at the end of “Poor Unfortunate Souls”…fuggedaboutit.

We even got a much more fleshed out Eric, who sings his own song of yearning from the “Little Mermaid” Broadway show. In the movie, we see that Eric and Ariel really are two kindred spirits with a ton of innocent, heartfelt chemistry. The moment in the “Kiss The Girl” boat scene where Eric learns Ariel’s name using the stars in the sky is romantic and sweet in all the right ways.

via GIPHY

And yes, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Sebastian and Flounder designs actually make sense. Looking back, if they had made them closer to the cartoony style we’re familiar with, it would have felt very wonky and out of place. There, I said it.

I haven’t mentioned much about Ariel herself, because what is there to say really other than Bailey is phenomenal. She brings the necessary purity and dreaminess, but adds her own sense of courage and determination. This Ariel steers her own course…quite literally.

via GIPHY

Overall, I think there are plenty of treasures untold to be gleaned from this delightfully creative retelling. It’s a movie that, despite the alluring siren song of criticism, can infuse a healing dose of magic into kids’ hearts—and even the heart of our own inner child, if we let it.

True

Music’s biggest night took place Sunday, February 4 with the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Now, fans have the opportunity to take home a piece of the famed event.

Longtime GRAMMY Awards partner Mastercard is using this year’s campaign to shine a light on the environment and the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), a forest restoration program with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. Music fans are 1.5 times more likely to take action to help the environment, making the GRAMMY Awards the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“Through our GRAMMY Awards campaign, we’ve created an opportunity for our brand, our partners and consumers to come together over shared values, to participate during a moment when we can celebrate our passion for music and our commitment to make meaningful investments to preserve the environment,” says Rustom Dastoor, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, North America at Mastercard.

The campaign kicked off with an inspired self-guided multi-sensory tour at the GRAMMY House presented by Mastercard, where people journeyed through their passion of music and educational experience about Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to tree restoration. Then, this year’s most-nominated GRAMMY artist and a passionate voice for the environment, SZA, led the charge with the debut performance of her new song, Saturn.

Mastercard’s partners are also joining the mission by encouraging people all over the country to participate; Lyft and Sirius XM are both offering ways for consumers to get involved in the Priceless Planet Coalition. To learn more about how you can support these efforts, visit mastercard.com/forceofnature.

While fashion is always a highlight of any GRAMMY Awards event, SZA’s outfit worn during her performance of Saturn was designed to make a statement; made of tree seeds to help spread awareness. Fans can even comment ‘🌱’ and tag a friend on Mastercard’s designated post of SZA’s GRAMMY House performance for a chance to win a tree seed from the performance outfit*.

“SZA has a personal passion for sustainability – not just in forest restoration but in the clothes she wears and the platforms and partners she aligns herself with. It was important to us to partner with someone who is not only showing up big at the GRAMMY Awards – as the most GRAMMY-nominated artist this year – but also showing up big for the environment,” says Dastoor.

Keep ReadingShow less

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Tracy Chapman makes rare appearance to sing 'Fast Car' with Luke Combs at the Grammys

The late 80s hit is finding new life as a country song—and topping the charts.

Hans Hillewaeart, WIkipedia, David Bergman/Wikipedia

Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs performed an epic duet of "Fast Car" at the 2024 Grammys.

It had been rumored that Tracy Chapman might be making an appearance at the Grammys this year, after Luke Combs’ country version of her iconic song “Fast Car” earned a grammy nomination.

Combs' rendition of the late 80s classic, which won him Song of the Year at 2023 Country Music Awards, has been met with both great praise and great criticism.

Many applauded Combs for giving the tune a major resurgence and even bringing it to a whole new audience. At the same time, some took umbrage with the fact that Combs’ version had placed higher on the Billboard Hot 100 charts than Chapman’s original and argued that it was a symptom of long-endured racism within the country music genre.

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

Megan Montgomery and Jason McIntosh on their wedding day

If you were to look at Megan Montgomery's Instagram account, you'd see a beautiful, smiling woman in the prime of her life, her youth and fitness the envy of women the world over. You'd even see some photos of her with her husband (#datenight), with comments saying things like "Aww, gorgeous couple!"

But beneath her picture-perfect feed was the story of a woman in an abusive relationship with her husband—one that would start with his arrest shortly after they got married, and end 10 months later with him shooting her to death in a parking lot.

In a Facebook post, one of the people who was out with Megan the night of her murder detailed how her estranged husband had come to their table, put his hand on her neck and shoulder, and escorted her out of the building.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Unearthed BBC interview features two Victorian-era women discussing being teens in the 1800s

Frances 'Effy' Jones, one of the first women to be trained to use a typewriter and to take up cycling as a hobby, recalls life as a young working woman in London.

Two Victorian women discuss being teens in the 1800s.

There remains some mystery around what life was like in the 1800s, especially for teens. Most people alive today were not around in the Victorian era when the technologies now deemed old-fashioned were a novelty. In this rediscovered 1970s clip from the BBC, two elderly women reminisce about what it was like being teenagers during a time when the horse and buggy was still the fastest way to get around.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

4-year-old's emotional intelligence is off the charts and people are giving kudos to his mom

The bedtime conversation between Aldie and his mom is incredible to witness.

Aldie knows how to articulate his emotions better than most adults.

Sometimes they even stand out from grownups. Take young Aldie, for example, whose ability to articulate his feelings exceeds many adults. When you find out he's barely 4 years old, hearing him calmly talk about his emotions and good choices is all the more remarkable.

Aldie's mom, Jonisa Padernos, tells Upworthy that she's felt he was "really special" since he started talking in full sentences at 20 months. "Believe it or not, he had no major tantrums in his toddler years because he was always able to express [himself] with his words," she says.

Keep ReadingShow less