Spirited (2022)

Apple TV + has had some solid films on its service over the last few years, but they still seem to lag behind the big boys. Once again, there is a great film debuting on Apple TV + this weekend that takes a well known and mined story and gives it a fresh take.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an all-time class story of redemption. Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by three spirits on a Christmas Eve has been adapted with various successes from Bill Murray’s Scrooged and The Muppet Christmas Carol.

This time it takes the story and flips it around in a clever and creative way. There are a few twists that were unexpected and a whole bunch of songs. That’s right, it is a musical.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Farrell) has had a long career of excellence as the film reveals that they choose a hate-filled person every Christmas to put through the program. Every year, Present thinks about retiring, and every year he chooses to stay. Becoming even more uncertain about how much good he actual has done, Present discovered a special perp considered irredeemable. This was the case that sparked something in Present and he was determined to make the perp change.

The perp, Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), was not looking for a change in lifestyle and the ghosts found him more than they anticipated. When Present has to take over for the Ghost of Christmas Past (Sunita Muni), he starts reflecting on his own life as a ghost.

I have never been a fan of Will Farrell. Honestly, there are way more Will Farrell movies that I dislike or hate than that I liked. However, Farrell is just excellent here as Present is given a surprising origin and a surprising depth of character. Everything that he does makes perfect sense, especially when you discover the truth behind him. His performance is understated, which is just opposite of his normal role. This time he felt like he was playing a character and not just a version of himself.

Farrell and Ryan Reynolds have great chemistry and feel like a perfect duo. Octavia Spencer plays Briggs’ assistant and she is always good. I would have liked a little more from her.

The music was fun and the dance routines were well done although many of them seemed to blend together, not standing out from the others. I do think that there were a couple too many songs in this musical, but I enjoyed most of them. The standout song was a duet between Farrell and Reynolds called “Good Afternoon.”

I really liked the ending of the film. Of course, I will not spoil it, but it was a nice finish and brought characters full circle.

Spirited had appeared in limited run in theaters last week and now can be found on Apple TV +. It is a little long at over two hours, but it is a lot of holiday fun and takes a well-worn story and breathes new life into it.

4.2 stars

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