Opinion: Spirited towards mediocrity(?)

A review about Apple’s latest movie Spirited

Kaleb Smith, Cub News Writer

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of the most ubiquitous pieces of media ever. It is almost entirely associated with Christmas, but still has an influence that few other writings can ever hope to achieve, even if it is largely irrelevant outside of the holiday season. Did you know: there is a Muppet Christmas Carol movie? It faithfully takes the story of Dickens’ classic and inserts Muppet characters into it. I’ve yet to see it, but supposedly it is quite enjoyable, not as an adaptation, but as a standalone product. Minor tangent aside, Apple TV’s newly released Spirited is certainly one of the films of the last 20 years. A musical effort at a continuation of the original, it stars Will Ferrell as the Ghost of Christmas Present, working alongside other ghosts in an effort to redeem one person each year around the Christmas season. He has been eligible for retirement for some time, yet refuses to accept out of a desire to repent for mistakes made in life. It’s a rather simple character played well by Ferrell, surrounded by an extremely obvious twist most people will catch from the basic presentation. This year, he decides to target Clint Briggs, marked as unredeemable for his job as a social media consultant who uses controversy as a business. Briggs, played by Ryan Reynolds, isn’t far removed from a typical Scrooge-Esque character; he is an entertaining character in an aggressively mean-spirited way that is necessary for A Christmas Carol. From here, it roughly follows the typical Dickens blueprint, with the caveats that it is contemporary to us, and Briggs is far less willing to lie down and accept the lecturing of those haunting him than Scrooge ever was. 


I am not a person particularly experienced with musicals, but I can say with confidence that this isn’t a stellar example. The set design and performances of all cast members are all up to par. It’s pretty typical Broadway stuff in regard to the backgrounds, lots of lighting, and a heavy interaction between characters and the environment. The songs, on the other hand, are plainly tepid. Well performed- but poorly written and choreographed. I have to clarify that anything I say about the art of musicals is in no way grounded in any knowledge, more bits and pieces of criticism and commentary I’ve heard over the years. Even if the musical numbers were enjoyable, you’d think the movie was trying to hide something. It has an unfortunate habit of cutting them off early or otherwise interrupting them with unnecessary dialogue or quips, which ruins what little value they have. Debatably, this is all fine, since I highly doubt this movie is trying to be much more than an entertaining movie for Christmas, but at 2 hours of length, it gets somewhat stifling. It’s not a film to rewatch unless you’re looking to completely dissect Dickens, since it does arguably contribute something to conversations about Scrooge’s exploits simply by existing, but not entirely worth much otherwise.