’Spirited’ Review – Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell Charm Apple’s New Christmas Musical
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol gets a modernized retelling in Apple TV Plus’ Spirited, from director Sean Anders and starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell.
The story is now told from the perspective of Will Ferrell’s The Ghost of Christmas Present, as he embarks on the impossible journey of redeeming Ryan Reynolds’ Clint Briggs, the soulless head of a multimillion-dollar company. When Present tries to show him the real value of life, family, and Christmas, Briggs turns the table on his head and the film becomes an exploration of Present’s past that will inevitably result in Briggs reexamining himself. And they both sing. And dance. La La Land‘s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are behind the movie’s songs, which are by far the most attractive part of the movie yet fail to be memorable. (A nomination in the Best Original Song is still possible, as the songs are actually quite good, just not Audition-level good.)
Spirited is a combination of factors that should work but do not transcend the two hours of entertainment that it provides. It uses the novelty of exploring A Christmas Carol from a new perspective and brings new ideas to the table, but at the end of the day, the story is not groundbreaking and it ends up being a “been there, done that” sort of tune. Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell bring as much charisma as one would expect from seeing the poster. However, they both end up being caricatures of the characters they play in any other movie. It doesn’t bring huge dramatic swings for either one, and the biggest challenge for them was probably pulling off the song-and-dance numbers, which they do. Reynolds proves once again here that he’s just one of the best entertainers on the planet. If he wanted, with the right management behind him he could definitely get an Oscar nomination for the right role. But he’s clearly not very invested in that (though I realized while watching the film that he’d make the perfect Oscar host).
Spirited will not go down as the next Elf in many households, but as families start to prepare their Christmas film queue in the next few weeks, I would definitely recommend it. It brings some emotion and holiday spirit to the table, even if most of it is due to the magic of seeing Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds together on screen. Octavia Spencer also has a role in the movie, though her character is a tragic afterthought and an easy distraction when the script needed a moment to lay down and the editor needed a pause in between songs. There is also an interesting message about the repercussions of online harassment, but that is also left out for a good chunk of the movie to focus on Ferrell’s past and seeing Ryan Reynolds sing. (The final musical number was particularly great.) It felt like a missed opportunity in the sense that the movie touched upon some interesting themes and story ideas but failed to explore them any further, becoming quite basic and surface-level on many fronts.
If you are looking for a new Christmas movie this holiday, you may check out Spirited. If you are looking for your next favorite Christmas movie, you might as well look somewhere else. The film releases on Apple TV Plus on November 18.
Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as authors like Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.