Apple TV Plus’ Spirited lives up to its name as a musical, and it’s a holiday movie which delivers a finale that I didn’t expect! The central idea behind this work is to believe anyone can change for the better. And as a film adds to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol mythos, I loved the world that’s presented which expands upon why people of a certain nature gets haunted.
Even though I think it’s too early to have these types of films out, I was curious, and delayed posting after the American Thanksgiving weekend. That way, I can at least say this movie is worth watching to get into the coming Holiday spirit. The fact there haven’t been many adaptations of Dickens’ tale to the musical format, this was one movie I had to watch.
Here, we’re introduced to Jacob Marley (Patrick Page) who is having quite the afterlife. He leads an unidentified department that works on redeeming human souls. The irony is that Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) isn’t all that happy. He has a story too, and instead of retiring, he stays where he is at work because he feels there’s always someone worth saving. The worse the person is whom they affect, the better the ripple effect it has on the world at large. It’s a lofty idea I’m all for, because if the individual is a politician, perhaps certain attitudes can be altered and global peace achieved.
When his team finds Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), a savvy and cold-hearted social media consultant, is their next “client,” things don’t go as planned.
There are rules this supernatural organisation must follow. One of them includes not getting too attached, and another is to not allow themselves to be seen. On a larger scale, I have to wonder how many misanthropes exist around the world, the Ghosts visit hoping to turn. To locate the worst of the bunch is tough, and it looks like the group spends a lot of time to find who is worth saving rather than to help them all. In Spirited, they’re focussing on Briggs and will have to spend a year to build his case file.
Reynolds is wonderful in the somewhat classic role of Ebenezer, plus he can sing! Octavia Spencer, who plays Kimberly, his aide, is even better and when this film gets meta, that’s when the best laughs are made. It makes me think they know they’re in a musical, in the same way Buffy the Vampire Slayer recognised it in “Once More With Feeling.”
I’m more familiar with Farell’s comic chops, which he delivers in droves, but it’s Reynold’s offbeat humour, which I cherish more. Even though half the motion picture is very derivative, it earns its wings when the expectations go in a direction I did not expect. For one thing, Biggs flirts with the Ghost of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani), and the result requires Present to take on more work to win the mortal over. Soon, this tale becomes more of an Odd Couple film than anything else, and that’s when the humour gets even crazier. It’s comparable to another holiday classic I adore, Scrooged. I suspect the tune “Put A Little Love in Your Heart” from that take is reimagined to “Do A Little Good.”
What’s different between the two is with how director Sean Anders handles the song and dance. They’re very stylized and everything I expect from a Broadway stage production. To say its Spirited is a bad pun but I have to say it. The cinematic version gives each ensemble their closeups, but I’m wanting more. It may come, but this work needs to be more widely available than streaming in one service, so everyone can enjoy it.
4½ Stars out of 5