- 2 hr 7 min
Spirited is a modern retelling of Charles Dickens' classic holiday story, "A Christmas Carol," imbued with a contemporary twist that brings new life to the timeworn tale. Directed by Sean Anders, who co-wrote the screenplay with John Morris, the movie stars comedic titans Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, alongside the immensely talented Octavia Spencer. This 2022 musical comedy breathes vibrant energy into the well-trod narrative through its clever script, catchy songs, and updated setting.
As the title suggests, the film retains the supernatural element at the core of the original story, but reinvents the ghosts as characters with agency and personal journeys. Will Ferrell plays the role of the Ghost of Christmas Present with an infectious charm and brightness that's to be expected from the seasoned comedian. Far from being just an omniscient being, Ferrell's character is presented as a likable spirit with his own set of dilemmas and goals, making him a protagonist in his own right rather than just a catalyst for another’s transformation.
Ryan Reynolds, known for his quick wit and ability to turn any situation comedic, steps into the shoes of the updated version of the Ebenezer Scrooge character, but with a twist. As a media-savvy, sharply dressed man of the current era, he represents a Scrooge suitable for the social media age, complete with a modern-day cynicism and selfishness that reflect contemporary society's woes. Despite his character's initially repellent nature, Reynolds' charm ensures that the audience remains invested in his potential redemption.
Octavia Spencer rounds out the main cast as a kind-hearted, committed everywoman who serves as the emotional anchor within the whirlwind of Christmas past, present, and future. Her performance grounds the story, reminding viewers that at the heart of all the fantastical elements is a very human story of communal bonds and the redemptive power of kindness.
The plot of Spirited follows the tried-and-true format of "A Christmas Carol" with the ghosts of past, present, and future visiting a chosen miserly individual to encourage them to change their ways. However, the film injects fresh vitality into the narrative through musical numbers and updated context. Each spectral visitation is not only a lesson for Reynolds' character but also serves as an introspective journey for the ghosts themselves, revealing that growth and learning are possible for all, living or not.
The film’s music adds another layer of entertainment, with the songs propelling the story forward in a celebration of the musical genre. The original soundtrack weaves seamlessly with the plot, allowing the characters to express their internal struggles and revelations through dynamic and catchy melodies. The music is a crucial element of the movie's dialogue, making Spirited as much a contemporary musical as it is a Christmas film.
With its fast-paced humor, Spirited doesn't shy away from lampooning the absurdities of modern life, making sharp observations about everything from corporate culture to the nature of social interactions in the digital era. Although the jokes fly fast and frequently, the movie remains a heartwarming tale that honors the spirit of the holidays. It does this by focusing on themes that have made "A Christmas Carol" a perennial favorite: generosity, empathy, and the possibility of second chances.
This isn't the bleak Victorian London of Dickens' original work; Spirited is firmly set in the present day, wrapped in the trappings of our time. This setting allows the film to navigate through an exploration of what it means to live a life well-lived in today's high-pressure, heavily monetized world. It's a world where the emphasis on simplicity and human connection seems like an increasingly revolutionary act.
As far as Christmas comedies go, Spirited aims to balance slapstick and satire with a genuine warmth that seeks to thaw even the chilliest of modern-day cynicisms. Watching Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds play off each other both musically and comedically is a gift in itself, offering viewers a double dose of star power and performance charisma. With Octavia Spencer providing a grounding counterpart, the ensemble cast operates a yuletide-heavy machinery that aims to leave audiences both laughing and potentially a little wiser.
Spirited is a festive and enthusiastically modern film that takes a well-known holiday blueprint and runs with it in gleeful directions, finding new life in the familiar through vibrant performances, a timely sense of humor, and a bustling holiday heart. It ultimately strives to deliver a message that feels as necessary today as it ever did: In a world that can often seem cold and unfeeling, it's our connections to one another and our capacity for change that keep the true spirit of the season alive.
Spirited is a 2022 comedy with a runtime of 2 hours and 7 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6 and a MetaScore of 55.