Chubby Hmm

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Refers to a tendency, particularly with biopics or prequels, to clumsily foreshadow plot developments that we, the viewer, are expecting to occur.

The phrase is based upon journalist Jon Ronson's misremembering of a scene in the TV movie The Karen Carpenter Story (1989). In the film, the camera dramatically closes in on actress Cynthia Gibb's face (as Karen Carpenter) as she reads an article in Billboard magazine containing the phrase "chubby sister," signposting her decline into anorexia nervosa.

In Ronson's unreliable recollection, it is Richard Carpenter reading a review to Karen. She asks "is there anything about me in there?" and he replies, "the chubby drummer kept time." Karen then replies, "Chubby? Hmm..."

Examples of "Chubby? Hmm" in cinema have included:

  • Kyle MacLachlan's attempts to come up with the keyboard intro to Light My Fire in The Doors (1991)
  • Mark Wahlberg says "Central Park? That's kinda odd..." in The Happening (2008)
  • In The Buddy Holly Story (1978), when the band realise that "If you knew Cindy Lou..." doesn't sound right