Rachel McAdams Is Phenomenal in ‘Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret’ newsusface

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by editor Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

Are You There God? It’s Me, Kevin.

For the last 30 minutes, I cried. I didn’t know I was crying. I didn’t feel upset or extremely moved. But there was a vibe that Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret projected that was just emotional. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to figure out what it was, and I think it’s just that, in ways that few movies do, it captured what it means to be human.

Margaret feels a lot. Some of it is ludicrous. Some of it is very important. But all of it is huge. What struck me, though, was the way that it all bounced off her mother, played by Rachel McAdams. The more I sit with this movie, the more I realize how brilliant McAdams is in it. And, too, how clever her casting was.

This film, and the classic book Judy Blume wrote, is about a young girl coming of age. But I was struck in the film by how much of the story is Margaret’s mother’s arc, too. McAdams plays Margaret’s mom, Barbara, an artist who moves her family to the New Jersey suburbs because she thinks it will allow them to live a Norman Rockwell life. Over the course of the film, you see her realize how delusional that is—the very reason her family works so well is because they allow themselves to be the antithesis of convention.

McAdams was cast in this role because she’s an amazing actress—in the “big scene” when Margaret gets what she’s been praying for, McAdams is so alive and kinetic, cycling through 400 reactions and emotions in the span of seconds, like a mother would. But, from a celebrity standpoint, there’s something profound that underlies her performing that role.

This is the person we saw as the Alpha Female in Mean Girls, the love interest we all wished we could be in The Notebook, and the reporter who is so good at her job—at listening—that McAdams got an Oscar nomination for playing her in Spotlight. These roles represent different fragments of womanhood. In Are You There God?, she’s playing a parent shepherding a daughter through her journey, but also learning that her own role can’t be checked by a box or described by a character type.

She’s so good in this movie, which is also phenomenal. I hope you all see it.

Is Flounder OK?

The character posters for The Little Mermaid came out this week. Never have I felt more dubious about a movie. Why take a perfect animated film, one that generations consider the cornerstone of their childhoods, and turn it into a CGI mess? Money, I suppose, is the answer. But if the reactions to these posters is any indication, I wonder if that will even be worth it. (Which is to say we all, obviously, will see this movie, and it will make a bajillion dollars. But at what cost?!)

None of these posters are good. But the Flounder one, especially, is not good. Does our little fish bud need to go to rehab? Is he OK?

Patti LuPone Is Always Winning

Can we figure out a way to have Patti LuPone always be on a press tour?

The thing about celebrities when they do press is that they’re not supposed to tell the truth. How are they really feeling? They’ll never tell! It’s all a carefully choreographed dance to make you intrigued by them, and thus their project.

Then there’s Patti LuPone. She is so candid that I think Andy Cohen just has her on retainer anytime he needs someone to spill some good gossip. (The title of the YouTube video of her most recent appearance on his talk show: “Patti LuPone Isn’t Happy About Kim Kardashian’s New Acting Gig.”) Her press tour for Beau Is Afraid, whatever you think of the film, is the epitome of *chef’s kiss.* Here’s some of my favorite quotes.

What If We Just Don’t See The Flash?

The upcoming DC movie The Flash has been marred by controversy. After WB held a preview screening of it for the tweet-happy folks at CinemaCon this week, most of them did their dutiful, fawning PR for the studio. Then there was this tweet, flagged to me by my colleague Allegra Frank. It is perfect. Let’s skip this movie.

What to watch this week:

Frog and Toad: They’re gay! (Now on Apple TV+)

White House Plumbers: A Watergate series for people who’d like Justin Theroux to come address their pipes. (Mon. on HBO)

A Small Light: Sometimes a TV show is well-made and important. This is such a case. (Mon. on National Geographic)

What to skip this week:

Citadel: Someone at Amazon enjoys lighting money on fire. (Now on Prime Video)

Peter Pan & Wendy: Spoiler alert: He doesn’t grow up. (Now on Disney+)

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