There have been a number of films over the years adapting the 1894 Charles Dickens novella, A Christmas Carol, but for better or for worse 2022’s Spirited takes it to another level.
Each Christmas Eve, 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. This modern retelling is a sweet and spicy holiday treat.
Spirited was directed by Sean Anders (Daddy’s Home, Instant Family), written by Anders and John Morris, with original songs by Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land) and production numbers choreographed by Chloe Arnold (The Late Late Show with James Corden).
Headlining the cast is Will Ferrell as Ghost of Christmas Present, Ryan Reynolds as Clint Briggs, and Octavia Spencer as Kimberly. Sunita Mani, Patrick Page, Marlow Barkley, and Tracy Morgan also star.
Musicals can be hit or miss and they are definitely not for everyone. However, we Ferrell and Reynolds team-up for a Christmas comedy musical just in-time for the holiday season it seemed like a combination that could not miss. Not so much, well it wasn’t awful.
The jokes, timing and co-star’s chemistry were the best part, but in the end the movie left me wondering why it had to be a musical. A unique take on a classic Christmas story would have been enough and likely would have this viewer watching Spirited on an annual basis as part of his regular holiday movie schedule. The addition of random songs, dance and extravaganza made the film unappealing as a re-watchable classic.
This is not to say the movie was bad. It honestly was excellent. A well-made Christmas musical, but would’ve been so much better as a basic Christmas comedy putting Ferrell into the ultimate category of having two of people’s favorite holiday flicks along with Elf. The story was unique enough and well executed enough it didn’t need the musical aspect to make it different. Simply put, tone down the musical numbers and it would be a much better film.
It is a huge positive to see well-made holiday movies being made to add to the list of classics. Spirited will fall into some people’s annual list, but just not those who are not fans of musicals.
Spirited had a limited theatrical release on November 11, 2022 with the film hitting Apple TV+ on November 18.