This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- The craziest movie twist of the year.
- A surprise entry for the year’s funniest show.
- Will never stop fawning over Phoebe Waller-Bridge
- The one thing from Little Mermaid Live! we still can’t shake.
I must say I never expected Last Christmas to take the song it was inspired by so literally.
This part of the newsletter, I must warn you, contains a major spoiler for the new holiday film, starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, and the late George Michael’s music catalog. It’s also not really a spoiler, not if you watched the trailer for the movie, which was written by Emma Thompson and directed by Paul Feig, and especially, it turns out, not if you have ever listened to the inescapably irritating Wham! holiday hit, “Last Christmas.”
But it is a spoiler nonetheless, so I must warn you one last time. OK, here we go.
Sing the first line of the song.
That’s what happens.
I watched it happen myself. I sat in a screening room several weeks ago—it was not yet even Halloween—with my jaw bouncing off the floor, yet I still can’t believe it’s real.
“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart…” is how the song starts. Remember that as I give you a brief plot description.
A flailing young woman named Kate (Clarke) is an immigrant to London, and nothing, it seems, is going right in her life. She’s an aspiring singer, but can’t get any work. She’s avoiding her mother (Thompson), who is hounding her to attend to medical issues she’s ignoring. She works as an elf in a Christmas shop, where she meets Tom (Golding). They have a magical first date, and, like a guardian angel she didn’t know is watching over her, he helps her address all the problems in her life. There’s something weird, though Kate is too smitten to notice: No one seems to know of or notice Tom besides her.
We’ve all seen enough Christmas movies to have guessed based on the trailer alone that Tom is dead. But that’s not even the twist I’m referring to.
Sing that first line again. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart…”
TOM DIED AND WAS AN ORGAN DONOR AND KATE WAS HIS HEART TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT. I AM TYPING IN ALL-CAPS BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO RELAY THAT INFORMATION.
Here’s the thing about Last Christmas: It’s an otherwise enjoyable holiday movie, as my colleague Jordan Julian wrote in her review. Clarke is delightful as a rom-com lead. Golding is great. Emma Thompson steals every scene she’s in, of course, and the overall narrative arc is crafted to the perfect, emotionally manipulative holiday-movie effect you crave. And Feig, too, has admirably made this a film about dealing with depression as much as it is about Christmas and love. (Oh, it’s also about Brexit. But the less said about that, the better.)
But that twist! Still reeling. Someone sang to themselves the first line of the Wham! Christmas song and was like, well, if I’m going to do a movie about this I guess the guy’s gonna have to give the girl his heart. No metaphor here. The actual heart. Happy holidays, everyone.
In this job, I watch a lot of TV. Not every show, but a lot of them. So many of them. Help.
Anyway, that’s to say that it’s not lightly that I tell you that I laughed harder at Forky Asks a Question than I did at maybe any other comedy I’ve watched this year.
The series launches Tuesday with Disney+ (click here to read more about whether subscribing is worth it). It’s a string of three-minute short episodes centered around the breakout new character of Toy Story 4. Forky is his education on what it means to be a sentient being, thus wondering aloud some existential questions about life and living. “What is a friend?” “What is money?” Each episode sets out to answer the questions.
It sounds heady, but it’s far from it. The high concept the gives the episodes a continuing structure, but stakes low enough to deliver in three-minute episodes. Three minutes!!! Short bursts of heartwarming, hilarious delight.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is this month’s Vogue cover girl. There are two things of note in the ensuing feature. One, she recounts the time Hillary Clinton saw the off-Broadway production of Fleabag, in which a disturbing fate befalls a hamster named Hilary, and I may never stop thinking about it. Two, she is photographed in this dress, quite possibly the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen.
I have already written at length about The Little Mermaid Live!, yet I am cursed to be still thinking about it, days later. Chiefly this: at one point in rehearsals, Shaggy’s Sebastian had claws. When the production went live, everyone in the audience was wearing claws, yet Shaggy, despite doing what was clearly meant to be claw choreography with his hands, wasn’t. WHO NIXED THE CLAWS, AND WHY?
What to watch this week:
Back to Life: A small, quietly wonderful series.
Forky Asks a Question: The best Disney+ show, really.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: I actually enjoyed it: the show: that I watched.
Last Christmas: He gave you his heart, now give him your money!
What to skip this week:
Playing With Fire: Never a good idea.
Lady & the Tramp: Waste of perfectly good spaghetti.
Primal: Nicolas Cage stars. I believe I’ve made my point.