“Spirited” songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul would love for their Oscar-shortlisted song “Good Afternoon” to be nominated for best original song, just so that Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell can perform it at the 95th Academy Awards.
“I need them on stage,” Paul tells Variety. But what about Reynolds?
“I’m not thinking about that,” Reynolds says. “Look, if this song is nominated for an Academy Award, I would say that the least I can do is show up on that stage and embarrass myself.”
The tune is a musical-theater-esque number vying for consideration against power ballads from Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Rihanna. Pasek and Paul enlisted a group of songwriters including Khiyon Hursey, Sukari Jones and Mark Sonnenblick to help pen the tongue-in-cheek lyrics and deliver festive cheer.
“Spirited” is a modern-day twist on the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.” It sees Ferrell’s Ghost of Christmas Present feeling disillusioned with his ghostly job. Alongside him are the Ghost of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani) and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Loren Woods, voiced by Tracy Morgan). Reynolds takes on Scrooge (aka Clint Briggs), who spends his time on social media spinning lies.
Reynolds can be credited for the musical number after being inspired by the original Dickens novel. “Scrooge would say ‘good afternoon,’ and we investigated it and this idea that it was an insult,” Reynolds says. “It was the only time I ever asked Benj and Justin to do anything for this movie. I said, ‘Can you please have one song that is about ‘good afternoon’ where we just get to go off and drop in a heavily camouflaged f-bomb all over the place?’”
The brainstorming of the lyrics ended up being a 55-page Google document. Says Pasek, “It was everybody’s different ideas, everybody working on different parts of it and putting it together.”
Reynolds, whose Cockney accent is a nod to Dick Van Dyke, explains “Good Afternoon” has resonated with listeners and hopefully voters because it’s “just good old-fashioned mischief, to a certain degree.” He continues, “It’s this idea that people can get away with something or have the agency to say ‘Go fuck yourself,’ but wrapped up in a much different package out in the open.”
“If the song is lucky enough to be considered by folks, I would love nothing more than to watch those guys perform on stage at the Oscars,” Pasek says. “I think it would be just the funniest thing in the world to watch them give a ‘good afternoon’ to all of Hollywood.”
Watch the number below.