‘The Whale’ Might Be 2022’s Most Offensive Film, Despite Its Good Intentions

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/A24
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/A24
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There are roughly 47,000—oh, wait, a new Netflix Original just dropped; make that 47,001—TV shows and movies coming out each week. At Obsessed, we consider it our social duty to help you see the best and skip the rest.

We’ve already got a variety of in-depth, exclusive coverage on all of your streaming favorites and new releases, but sometimes what you’re looking for is a simple Do or Don’t. That’s why we created See/Skip, to tell you exactly what our writers think you should See and what you can Skip from the past week’s crowded entertainment landscape.

Skip: The Whale

The Whale is a mean-spirited, exploitative exploration of how society treats obesity, masquerading as a well-intentioned emotional epic. Really, this whale is just bait for a bigger fish: a nomination for Best Picture.

Here’s Coleman Spilde’s’ take:

“Several times throughout The Whale, star Brendan Fraser repeats the same credo. “People are amazing,” his character, Charlie, says in various iterations, sometimes through tears and sometimes with a remarkably cheerful disposition. We’re supposed to look on as audiences, wondering just how it is that Charlie—a man who is severely obese and confined to his apartment—is able to maintain this belief, when his own life has shown him the opposite time and time again.

'The Whale' Is a Cruel Exploitation of Obesity Saved by Brendan Fraser’s Performance

Darren Aronofsky is an auteur as acclaimed as he is controversial, and his latest is no different. For a decade, The Whale has been Aronofsky’s passion project. He was moved to adapt the story into a film from its theatrical origins, after he saw its celebrated off-Broadway run in 2012. But 10 years in the digital age is a lifetime in terms of cultural sensitivity. Social mores adapt and change. They’re not the same as when the last curtain fell on Samuel D. Hunter’s play. Even with the film’s screenplay adapted by Hunter, and a blisteringly tender performance by Fraser, The Whale drowns in its own deeply misguided quest for empathy.”

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<div class="inline-image__caption"><p><em>Connect</em>.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Studio Dragon</div>


Studio Dragon

See: Connect

Connect is an outrageous new series from Japan’s gonzo great, Takashi Miike, about a man with horrific visions after his eye is taken and put into the body of a serial killer. God, I just hate when that happens!

Here’s Nick Schager’s take:

“Best known internationally for his horror and crime output (specifically, Audition, Ichi the Killer, Dead or Alive, and One Missed Call), Miike is an intensely prolific Japanese cine-extremist who crosses boundaries of any and every sort, such that his oeuvre is marked by madness that can be alternately sweet (2001’s horror-musical-romance The Happiness of the Katakuris) and mind-bogglingly deranged (2001’s Visitor Q, a family drama that has to be seen to be believed). Even when he takes a relatively more conventional route, such as with 2017’s Blade of the Immortal or 2019’s First Love, the director invests his action with delirious flair and a demented sense of humor.

You Need to Watch the Most Bonkers Show of the Year

Connect is a lot of mix-and-match batshit nuttiness, and unsurprisingly, Miike directs it to the hilt. A freeze-frame of Dongsoo leaping naked out of an upper-story window, his body surrounded by glass shards and illuminated by the full moon’s light, is like some wondrously weirdo variation of a Batman comic-book panel, and the aforementioned body-part nightmare feels akin to an unhinged The Addams Family riff. Miike’s visuals are sleek, menacing and sharp, and there’s rarely a moment that doesn’t hum with coiled energy. Connect confirms that, at age 62, and with over 100 feature films under his belt, Miike has lost none of his aesthetic verve, his stewardship as enlivened and striking as ever.”

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<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Guillermo del Toro's <em>Pinocchio</em>.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Netflix</div>

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio.


See: Pinocchio

Pinocchio transforms a story told so many times before into a remarkably animated, surprisingly dark tale about family, fascism, and the fragility of wood carvings. Start the kids on some heady concepts this holiday with Guillermo del Toro’s latest!

Here’s Barry Levitt’s take:

“Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There’s a new Pinocchio movie. No, not Robert Zemeckis’ apocalyptically bad live-action adaptation of the 1940 Disney film. And no, not Pinocchio: A True Story, a film nobody in recorded history has seen, but whose star Pauly Shore’s legendarily camp line reading of “Father, when can I leave to be on my own?” brought great joy to the internet at the beginning of the year. I’m talking about Guillermo del Toro and co-director Mark Gustafson’s stop-motion film, a passion project that’s taken over a decade to get made.

Guillermo Del Toro Has Done the Impossible: Make a Good ‘Pinocchio’ Remake

As both a stop-motion marvel and an exciting, dark story, Pinocchio is a rousing success. It’s in tune with the original book, yet it still forges an entirely different path of its own. That’s a key moral in Pinocchio, by the way: Follow your own unique journey in life, and don’t let anyone get in the way of going after what you want. Its messages are clear, but not ham-fisted, and while this is a film for the whole family, it never talks down to children. This is a mature, sophisticated take that does exciting, unexpected things with a well-worn tale. It’s not Disney’s animated masterpiece, but it’s not trying to be—this is a movie too busy traveling its own thrilling adventure.”

Read more.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p><em>The Culpo Sisters.</em></p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">TLC</div>

The Culpo Sisters.


See: The Culpo Sisters

The Culpo Sisters may not have the sway of a name like “Kardashian” on their side, but their reality show is a deceptively charming mix of aspirational content and normie representation that’s as unintentionally hilarious as it is addictive.

Here’s Kyndall Cunningham’s take:

“You’d be forgiven for having no idea who these beautiful, high-cheek-boned women are. But that’s what makes their unceremonious arrival into the zeitgeist so fascinating and, dare I say, inspirational. You might have at least heard of the middle sister, Olivia, whose main claim to fame is winning both Miss USA and Miss Universe in 2012. She also dated Nick Jonas during his solo comeback era almost a decade ago. According to IMDB, she has a cameo in the 2014 Cameron Diaz joint The Other Woman. Currently, she’s committed to promoting anything from Ragu to Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue on her Instagram, where she has 5.2 million followers.

The Culpo Sisters Are the First Influencers to Make Good TV

All of the plotlines in The Culpo Sisters are extremely mundane. And yet I found myself glued to my laptop, psychoanalyzing the most ordinary situations impacting these women’s lives. I was surprised to discover that the sisters are all delightfully outspoken, feisty, and smart, which is why they can lead such an uneventful show. And their sororal dynamic is deeply relatable as someone with two sisters. (I’m the Olivia!) There’s also an awareness amongst the women that, while they live pretty comfortable lives, none of them have really made it. Part of their charm is that they don't try to convince us that they’re more famous or successful than they actually are. Ironically, this seems to be the key to successful influencing. So maybe they should!”

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