Spirited - Apple Films attempts to retell Charles Dickens's 1843 A Christmas Carol. One may be predisposed to yawn at the aforementioned statement, but let us assure you, this fast passed, edgy, and the charmingly clunky film is a must-watch.
Apart from the hilariously placed music interludes, Spirited is a wholesome, funny, and charming holiday hit. The film follows the one and only Ebenezer Scrooge, played by the legend Will Ferrell as Scrooge, head of an entire spiritual industry, tries their best each year to redeem the grinches of the world. The ring leader of this organization, Jacob Marley played by Patrick Page, believes that with each miser redeemed creates a ripple effect that will, over time, better humanity.
Fast forward, the team of Christmas spirit do-gooders and believes they have their next "perp" in way of a hotel manager that yells at his staff. In those moments, the ghost of Christmas presents literally stumbles through a speaker at the hotel - Clint Briggs played by Ryan Reynolds. Briggs is the CEO and mastermind of a media agency that wants to see the world burn. Utilizing controversy and conflict to sell products and services. There are some underlying tones of how detrimental social media can be to society here, but it's a small anecdote to an overall greater plot. Briggs is more formally introduced via a musical score - yep this movie is a musical. A musical number that goes into detail on how to get the audience of real Christmas tree sellers to overcome the ever-growing fake tree buyers and enemy number 1: Amazon. Briggs is a cut-throat do anything necessary to get his clients o win even if that means flirting with the moral lines and watching their enemies burn; this may give you an insight as to why hes been chosen as the perp this year.
Farrell's character sees himself in Briggs's labeled "unredeemable" soul, and he makes it his mission to Redeem him. In doing so, the story then produces this duality where we follow the ups and downs of both Scrooge and Briggs as the navigate their unique situations and confront their morals and what's important to them. The flick is equally a story about redeeming Clint as it is navigating the complex emotions Ferrell's character is experiencing as Scrooge wants to leave his redeeming life behind and assimilate back into the real world, which is an option these ghosts get as a retirement package.
The Reynolds and Ferrell Holiday Film Shines Bright
You can not look past the cast of this film. Even while navigating ridiculous circumstances, Ferrell brings charming and relatable humor to the film. It's true Ferrell is not a professional dancer though there are moments during the film that will impress even the toughest dance critics. Ferrell also brings along the singing pipes he has displayed in other movies like ELF and Step Brothers.
Reynolds is clearly expanding his filmography here with Spirited as we get the always-on-point Reynolds wit and humor and a rarely seen dancing and singing Ryan Reynolds. Again don't expect Adele-caliber vocals, but we're impressed nonetheless.
Also having their moments to shine is Kimberley, Clint's assistant, played by Octavia Spencer. Spencer's character struggles with the moral quandary that is working for Briggs, and this conflict leads to a few emotion-filled ballads.
Jacob Marley, the head facilitator of the redeeming efforts played by Patrick Page, can also be seen with a couple of musical numbers as well as some quite funny moments.
To round off the talent and the film, we get to see the humorous side of Sunita Mani, who plays Past, and Tracy Morgan, who voices Yet To Come.
Apple spared no expense when it came to the sets and special effects for this film. A brilliant compilation of dynamic moving set pieces and well-crafted special effects. It would be no surprise if this flick becomes a broadway show, and the structure of the film lends itself well to such an adaptation. No cheesy cabin in the story woods here; everything from otherworldly cathedral-like redemption chambers to penthouse suites, this Christmas movie has no shortage of visuals and aesthetics.
Hands down, one of the film's strongest points is the music. When first starting the movie without watching any trailers, you would have never expected them to burst into song. The songs were created and composed by songwriting duo Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, and all of them are great. With song comes dancing, and there's a lot of dancing. From jazz to tap dancing, this film has it all. The mastermind behind the choreography was the one and only Chloé Arnold.
The energetic dance numbers were all broadway inspired, as each of them takes place in beautiful venues, and some are intentionally overproduced in the best ways (how do we get ahold of those flashlight body suites?).
Some may label this film as hyper-energetic, and it's infused with comedy, dance, and spectacle pieces. They turn up the dial when you think it's about to slow down.
We think the energetic style lends well to a primarily wholesome Christmas flick.
In Spirited, Apple Films Star-Studded Christmas Film delivers on its comedy promise. With clever cameos and off-the-cuff comments, this film will leave you in stitches.
In their flick, music numbers are introduced in a sarcastic or spontaneous manner, and it just works. If you're looking for belly-laughing comedy with an adult angle this season, you've come to the right place.
After all, we didn't expect the movie's various twists and turns. So if you are lucky, you will be pleasantly surprised. These moments add a dimension to the film we don't find in many Christmas movies.
The multiple storylines in this movie, as it follows several characters, is set up well for interweaving other story layers in it, which has the added effect of surprising the viewers with the outcomes of some events.
Where The Film Falls Short
The Plot holes
With the focus on comedy and musical numbers, the film suffers from a variety of plot holes and leaps in storytelling despite its over 2-hour run time. There were a couple of of moments in the film that we would categorize as "head-scratchers" where it didn't add up.
An example of this is when Briggs's assistant is able to see the Ghost of Christmas Present out of nowhere for no reason when these ghosts could only be seen by the people they haunt and try and redeem. This element leads to Ferrell's character following in love with Spencer's character. There was no explanation for this, and left us wondering "how."
These plot holes overall didn't detract to much from the overall story but was distracting enough to mention.
Abrupt character developments
Some characters felt rushed and forced when key developmental scenes were happening. There were some surface-level explanations for some characters to help push the narrative along that we felt devalued the overall story. There were also some aspects of the main character's story that could have been elaborated on more to provide us, the audience, with more context and more reason to care. Overall, Apple Films' newest Christmas movie Spirited starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds is a must-watch. The chemistry between the two actors is undeniable and the story will leave you feeling warm and inspired. If you're looking for a festive and heartwarming way to celebrate the holidays this year, Spirited is the perfect choice. From the classic holiday setting to the funny moments that will have you laughing out loud, this movie is sure to become a staple of your annual holiday viewing tradition.
Apple Films Spirited is a fresh and different take on a timeless classic. The high production value, cheeky musical interludes, and star-studded cast are all reasons this will climb near the top of most people's favorite Christmas movie list. The flick suffers from some avoidable plot holes and lacks some character development, but most can be overlooked as Ferrell and Ryneolds take us adventure after adventure, singing and dancing along the way. Spirited receives a festive fist bump from us.
Sources: Photos provided by Apple's spirted press kit.