review by Bobby Blakey
Director Sean Anders has been bringing the laughs with some heart for some time with films like Daddy’s Home and Instant Family. Now he is reteaming with his Daddy’s Home 1 and 2 star Will Ferrell and bringing Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer along for the ride with Spirited. Can this new take on a Christmas classic bring the laughs and holiday cheer or will it fail to hit the right note for the Christmas season?
Spirited follows each Christmas Eve where the Ghost of Christmas Present selects one dark soul to be reformed by a visit from three spirits. But this season, he picked the wrong Scrooge. Clint Briggs turns the tables on his ghostly host until Present finds himself reexamining his own past, present and future. For the first time, “A Christmas Carol” is told from the perspective of the ghosts in this hilarious musical twist on the classic Dickens tale.
If you have seen the trailers then you know this is a musical so I have to be upfront here and admit that I am not typically a fan of the genre. That being said I had a great time with this film that is a mash up of sorts of films like ELF, The Santa Claus, Scrooged and a Christmas Carol all rolled up into a perfect little gift for the holidays. It might seem like it is just another take on the Charles Dickens classic, but that is the furthest from the truth.
In this story we are seeing it all from the perspective of the various ghosts that do the haunting with Christmas Present being front and center. Reynolds is not Scrooge so go in knowing that this is something different. Seeing everything from the ghost’s side allows us to step into their world and the inner workings of it all that has established itself as an ongoing job and where the Christmas Carol story did actually happen at some point.
Believe it or not both Farrell and Reynolds offer up some great song and dance numbers that are mixed bag of heart, laughs and all around fun. They have great chemistry in their dysfunctional team up that follows all the tropes of the famed story while still being very much its own thing. Octavia Spencer has numerous moments of her own to shine and plays the perfect middle woman to both of these guys and all their insanity. The three of them went all in to bring this fun musical to life that has the makings of being a new holiday classic.
The laughs come from all sides, but it’s the heart, depth and even sadness that really help to make this movie more than it might have been otherwise. The songs are catchy and will get you tapping your feet right up to the very end. Stay through the credits as it offers up more full on musical sequences and an after credit scene.
Get into the holiday spirit and check out Spirited in select theaters now and streaming November 18th on Apple TV+.