It’s December once again and, like last year, we’re dedicating the entire month to just reviewing Christmas themed movies and media. It only makes sense as this is when they try to engorge the viewing public with holiday themed stuff. So, why not go review a few of them, right? Heck, this time around, they started pumping out Christmas shows and specials an entire month early! We’ll try to get to some of them but, this week, we’re going to look at the Apple TV+ movie Spirited.
A lot of people are saying that Spirited is a modern retelling of the classic story, A Christmas Carol. I beg to differ. While Spirited does borrow a lot from A Christmas Carol, this is more like a very long sequel in the making. This is because Spirited has the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come doing what they’ve been doing all these years but to different people. This time around, against the objections of their leader, Jacob Marley, the Ghost of Christmas Present decides to target Clint Briggs, a highly successful media consultant who made his fortune by stirring up controversy and pitting people against each other. Present does eventually get his way but it seems like he’s bitten off more than he can chew as his new target may just be as “unredeemable” as his file suggests.
One thing the trailer doesn’t really tell you outright is that Spirited is actually a musical. I mean, a full-fledged musical, complete with elaborate dance numbers, transforming sets and everything that entails. There were times when the sets actually look like a Broadway musical stage, which does enhance the musical numbers. But it also does kind of destroy the illusion of it being a movie as the transitions can come off as really weird. The two just don’t gel well enough to make it seem like one seamless thing.
Thankfully, Spirited does have whatever a good musical needs. And that would be outstanding song numbers. A lot of the songs are incredibly catchy and also integrate well into the story. It’s not just inserting a musical number because it’s a musical. The music numbers are there to tell what’s happening and illustrate the feelings of the characters. I will say the musical numbers are, overall, really good. I particularly liked the rhyming schemes and patterns to the songs. The rhyming isn’t particularly unique but the rhythm as to when the words are to rhyme which really got me. I’m not a music guy so I can’t really elaborate but the flow just felt really creative.
I also have to say I was blown away by the performances here because, well, Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer did to the majority of the singing here. Okay, Ryan Reynolds singing voice does come off as a little subdued as he never seemed to deliver any power into them. But I was really impressed with Will Ferrell and Octavia Spencer belting out some of the numbers. Okay, they might have had a little help post-production but I don’t think I would’ve loved the song numbers as much as I did if it sounded all artificial.
It does also help that the acting overall is really good. Will Ferrell comes off as really endearing as the good-natured Ghost of Christmas Present. While not exactly naive, he just is more frustrated with his current lot in life as he’s been doing his job for so long. Ryan Reynolds is, well, Ryan Reynolds. That’s not a bad thing but, if you were expecting him to do something different, you’re dead wrong. It does fit his role as the smarmy, wise-cracking guy who only looks at the bottom line and doesn’t care about who he hurts to get what he wants. Octavia Spencer, sadly, doesn’t really get to do much. However, she does do a good job of depicting a character who craves success but hates that she has to do bad things to achieve her goals.
I also do like the general chemistry between all of them. I don’t think Spirited would be as entertaining as it is without Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds riffing against each other. There’s a snappiness to the way they communicate with each other. However, as good as they are together on screen, their relationship did come off as antagonistic and not friendly. Even when they were supposed to be bonding, I didn’t really feel that. It does hurt the overall flow of the story for me.
Unfortunately, that’s not the film’s biggest weakness. That would be Spirited’s overall story. It does try to do a little too much within its 127-minute runtime. There are just too many plot threads all over the place and, because of this, the film has to bounce around from one point to another. It also really hurts the pacing and flow of the story as they would tear you away from a scene, go to another scene and then return you back to the previous one.
Even though the story is a little too convoluted for its own good, I will say Spirited is a fun watch. Not exactly a must watch for the holiday season nor would I say it’ll be come a Christmas classic like A Christmas Carol is. However, Spirited is something that I definitely wouldn’t mind watching again. Heck, I would watch it for some of the song numbers alone because they are that good. If you are the least bit interested to see a holiday movie with Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell together, Spirited will leave you more than entertained.
Have you seen Spirited? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!