This movie has been released over a month ago on AppleTV+ but my hubby and I decided to save it for around Christmas. Well, it turns out to be a fun Christmas musical that captures the, well, Christmas spirit. I’ve seen Charles Dickens‘s A Christmas Carol play for the past few years at our local theater The Guthrie, but I’ve actually never seen a musical version of the classic story on screen.
Well, this one is more of a reimagining of the familiar story of a mean, selfish man who finds redemption after going on a fantastical adventure with the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. I’m actually glad this isn’t a conventional adaptation of an oft-told story as we’ve seen SO many versions of that. Directed by Sean Anders based on a script he co-wrote with John Morris, the tone is definitely comedic right from the start.
It’s also quite inventive in the way they set up the story, introducing us to the ‘headquarter’ where the ghosts of Christmas (or GCs as Will Ferrell’s character Present calls them) are working at. Led by Marley (Patrick Page), for the past two centuries, their mission is to find and redeem a new human soul (which they call Perp) every Christmas. Marley of course is the long-deceased former business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge!
I love the hilarious dynamic between Present and his two co-workers: a randy Past (Sunita Mani) and the comical-and-not-at-all-scary Yet-To-Come (voiced by Tracy Morgan and Loren G. Woods). They too aren’t exempt from the distractions that plague living-breathing humans, as they’re shown constantly checking their mobile phones while on duty!
Ryan Reynolds plays Clint Briggs, an unscrupulous and ruthless media mogul who ends up being the GCs’ next ‘perp’ at Present’s insistence, even though his file is marked as ‘unredeemable.’ Briggs ends up being a tough case to crack and the movie manages to throw some surprises I didn’t expect. Both Reynolds and Ferrell can carry a tune, which is always a relief as there are certain actors cast in musicals who should never be allowed to sing on camera… *cough* Pierce Brosnan *cough*.
They’re also committed to doing all the dance sequences. Choreographed wonderfully by Chloé Arnold, all the dance sequences feature an all-inclusive cast. Ferrell and Reynolds have a fun rapport as they trade jabs at each other in words and songs. I love Octavia Spencer as Brigg’s loyal assistant Kimberly who also experiences her own life-altering epiphany upon meeting Present. If only she had a bit more screen time.
With a large budget of $75 million, the movie is filled with wonderful and imaginative set pieces, costumes, and lavish special effects. I especially love the set of the mid-1800s when Present takes Briggs to his own past, breaking protocol during his mission. Briggs’ ghastly British accent notwithstanding, it’s a wildly entertaining sequence that reveals Present’s true identity (which is predictable but still clever).
Being a musical, the songs are the highlights, thanks to the work of composer Dominic Lewis and songwriter duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who are responsible for La La Land and The Greatest Showman, among others. Whether a ballad or a high-energy musical number, the songs are delightful and easy to get stuck in one’s head.
Here are three of my favorite songs from the movie:
Now, the movie isn’t perfect and it could’ve been trimmed down by at least a half hour. Some of the jokes don’t land and at times it’s too just too hyper for its own good. The jab against social media’s cancel culture and the peril of online bullying are timely though a bit on the nose.
Overall though, Spirited is a lively and upbeat Christmas musical. Beneath all its goofiness, it actually delivers an uplifting message of finding goodwill and kindness despite all the darkness in the world. Is it gonna be a Christmas classic? Probably not, but it’s enjoyable enough I wouldn’t mind rewatching it again down the road.
9 thoughts on “Christmas Special: SPIRITED (2022) Review + Music Break”
I don’t know. I’m kind of tired of both Reynolds and Ferrell at the moment as I don’t have interest in this.
I hear ya, I totally understand as I have a hard time seeing Reynolds too. Ferrell is funny in ELF so I figure he’d be amusing in another Christmas movie.
I just about cancelled Apple TV when it went up to 6.99 from 4.99/month but then I discovered Spirited a few weeks ago and LOVED IT! I give it 4 stars and would watch it again. Didn’t know it was a musical and was delighted as it went on and discovered is was. Great review, Flixy and a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and Ivan too 😉
Hey Becky! Glad you enjoyed this one, the music is just delightful isn’t it?
Btw, $6.99 is still way cheaper than Netflix, I’m actually gonna cancel that later in January but keep AppleTV 🙂
I saw some random ads about this movie, I thought it’s some sort of a new series, didn’t know it’s a feature film. Not something I’d watch even though I like both Reynolds and Ferrell.
If you’re not into musicals then this is likely isn’t for you, Ted.
I’ve been waiting for season 3 of Ted Lasso to come back before I renew my Apple TV subscription but I will definitely be watching this when I do.
Ah yeah, I can’t wait for Ted Lasso S3! I’m like that with Netflix where I’ll just subscribe for half of the year and catch up on what I miss during that time 🙂
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