Entertainment

The Year of Jennifer Coolidge Continues With Netflix's 'Single All The Way'

Specifically a scene in which she recites a prayer Madonna once said before a concert.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Netflix has spent the past few years challenging Hallmark and Lifetime for holiday-movie supremacy, but Single All the Way is the first of its cheesy Yuletide confections to feature a gay romance. Is it a good film? Not unless you relish the heavily sweatered meet-cutes and small-town melodrama about meddlesome relatives that tend to populate this particular made-for-TV genre. In Single All the Way, perpetual Los Angeles bachelor Peter (Michael Urie) asks his roommate Nick (Philemon Chambers) to pose as his boyfriend during a trip home, only to discover that his busybody mother (Kathy Najimy) has set him up on a blind date with a sexy spin instructor (Luke Macfarlane). But wait. Did Peter actually love Nick the whole time??? Tune in to find out.

Amid this chemistry-strained Christmas courtship, there’s at least one thing worth celebrating: Jennifer Coolidge, specifically a scene where she recites a prayer Madonna once said for her dancers and backup singers before a concert.

Why does Jennifer Coolidge do this, aside from the fact that it feels like a very Jennifer Coolidge thing to do? Because she plays the director of a local nativity pageant who takes her job quite seriously. Coolidge is Sandy, Peter’s flamboyant aunt. When we first meet Sandy, she is scatting “Joy to the World” (Whitney Houston’s version, of course) and apologizing for arriving late to a family dinner. Later in the movie, after Peter and Nick (who loves handyman projects) have helped construct sets far too lavish for New Hampshire kids’ theater, Sandy prepares for the big show with a backstage invocation.

Gathering the literal children she has routinely scolded for not knowing their lines or emoting the way professionals might, Sandy launches into a prayer. “I just want us all to go out there and take the people in the audience to another place and inspire them to be better versions of the people that they are already,” she says, reading from a sheet of paper. “I thank you all, each and every one of you, for being part of this experience with me. I feel so grateful. I feel so excited. I feel so honoured. Let’s go out there and have the best time ever tonight. Be safe, and let’s shine like the brightest lights. Amen.”

During these last few sentences, Peter opens his eyes and shows a sign of recognition. He turns to Nick, who is standing beside him in the circle, and says, “Word for word Madonna’s pre-show prayer from Truth or Dare.” And then the scene moves on, with Sandy’s production going off without a hitch.

Here, we must pause for a quick fact-check. With all due respect to Single All the Way, which was written by Chad Hodge (Good Behaviour) and directed by Michael Mayer (A Home at the End of the World), that is not a quote from Truth or Dare, the seminal 1991 documentary chronicling Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour. Madonna does lead multiple prayers before various concerts in Truth or Dare, including one in which she excoriates the “fascist state of Toronto” for threatening to arrest her for simulating masturbation during “Like a Virgin.” But this particular prayer actually comes from I’m Going to Tell You a Secret, the less-famous MTV documentary she made during the 2004 tour supporting her album American Life. (Shout-out to fellow Madonna scholar Sydney Urbanek for helping me get to the bottom of this.)

There’s no official explanation for the false attribution, but one can assume it’s because Truth or Dare carries the sort of name recognition that I’m Going to Tell You a Secret lacks. Regardless, the script’s mix-up does not negate the joy of knowing that Jennifer Coolidge is passionately performing a prayer originated by the world’s most accomplished living pop star. Sandy doesn’t acknowledge that the words are not hers; she would pilfer some random spiel she saw in a celebrity documentary, deeming it one more step in her quest for theatrical renown. When Sandy enters a room, you immediately know she wants to be a star-perfect fodder for Coolidge’s brand of offbeat whimsy.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that 2021 has been the year of Coolidge. It began with Promising Young Woman‘s many Oscar nominations, continued with the Udo Kier indie Swan Song, reached new heights with HBO’s summer smash The White Lotus (a career milestone sure to put her in next year’s Emmy race), and continued with the animated series The Fungies and Ten Year Old Tom. Now Single All the Way rounds out her slate, letting Coolidge steal the entire movie with a deep-throated over-the-topness that is basically the exact opposite of White Lotus‘ insecure Tanya McQuoid.

Madonna is currently developing a biopic based on her own life, which she will also direct. Maybe there’s a role for Coolidge? She could just stand on the sidelines and mouth along as the actress portraying Madonna prays for her dancers. Whatever. We’d watch her do anything and eat it up. You could even say Coolidge’s career renaissance is like a prayer.

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Matthew Jacobs is an entertainment editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @tarantallegra.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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