This film immediately made it into my “watch every year” list.
Spirited is a musical comedy, starring Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, Octavia Spencer and more. Ferrell plays the Ghost of Christmas Present, on the verge of retirement, becomes determined to redeem Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), an apparently ‘unredeemable’ man. But Present still hasn’t come to terms with his own past, and as he and Briggs spend more time together, it’s not only Briggs who learns more about Christmas and what it truly means to be a good person.
This is a different kind of Christmas Carol, with a “Scrooge” who feels different than the bitter, angry old man who doesn’t care even a little for anyone he considers “beneath him”. Briggs is a very modern kind of man, in that his whole outlook is jaded, and his business is quite literally spreading misery. He thrives off division on social media, even creating the next big Christmas season debate – real vs fake Christmas trees. Yet beneath that, even at the beginning we can see he does care for his family, though he struggles in doing anything right, seeing everything as a battle to be fought.
Like the original Scrooge, Clint is also deeply affected by his sister’s death. Though other similarities are missing, one of the interesting elements is how Present tries to make the two more similar, drawing out the idea of lost love, or trying to encourage Clint to really pay attention to his employees, without Present fully realising these aren’t part of Clint’s story – his flaws, personality, and life are different from the OG Scrooge, but that still doesn’t mean Clint is unredeemable.
Let’s talk about the musical aspect, because it’s absolutely great to see all the actors involved in this stretching their singing and dancing muscles. Reynolds has apparently he stated he wouldn’t do a musical again, due to the level of physicalness required with the dancing (more than his action roles!), but I truly, really hope he reconsiders. He is great in this! Both him and Ferrell sing and dance, and show they fully have the talent to do more. Reynolds especially has a Gene Kelly-like way of dancing (though of course not at that legend’s level quite yet), it would be an absolute shame if he didn’t put that on screen again. The most memorable number – for content, chorography, and the sheer joy they seem to have doing it – is Good Afternoon, where Reynolds does an absolutely brilliant Dick Van Dyke-style faux cockney accent that matches the song so brilliantly.
Like most Christmas movies, this has a message behind it, and the message comes over really well, avoiding feeling forceful and preachy, but definitely suitable for the times we’re living in. Ferrell and Reynolds make a great comedy pairing, bouncing off each other really well, and are surrounded by an excellent cast.
I could honestly ramble about how much I love this film all day. The main cast are great, the ensemble is amazing, and the music is just not-Christmassy enough the soundtrack can be listened to all year through. Overall, it’s a wonderful Christmas film, a great Christmas Carol adaption, and a fantastic musical.