I’m torn on the latest musical, SPIRITED. It checks all the boxes to become a Christmas classic, yet somehow it lacks that magical… spirit.
In the “spirit” of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, you’ll be visited by three ghosts while reading this review. The ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. From there, you can decide if SPIRITED is “Redeemable.”
Let’s start by visiting the past and the decisions that went into making this movie.
Casting – Will Ferrell is one of the funniest actors working and visually fits his character. Yet, what doesn’t work is his singing voice. And that should be the number one requirement for his role since he has most of the songs in SPIRITED. I imagined John C. “Mr. Cellophane” Reilly or even Hugh “Greatest Showman” Jackman instead. As is, this causes a “ripple effect” during some of the most emotional songs throughout the film.
Editing – This is a LONG movie. Sean Anders should have cut something in this two-plus Christmas buffet. And, he could have. If the film were about fifteen minutes shorter, it would easily be one of the best of the year. As is, it continues to try to “Bring Back Christmas” for far too long.
Next up is the present, whereupon release, the film should’ve been released…
Theatrically – SPIRITED is the type of feel-good movie that needs to be seen on the big screen with an audience. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN got panned on Rotten Tomatoes but continued to surprise at the box office because of the communal experience. Unfortunately, without the audience’s energy, the experience isn’t as strong as it could’ve been.
The Twist – Holy “Good Afternoon” the twist in this film is epic. It’s what separates it from other CHRISTMAS CAROL adaptations. It’s a “present” worth unwrapping.
Music – By now, readers know I’m obsessed with Pasek and Paul’s work (THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, DEAR EVAN HANSON, and LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE, to name a few). In SPIRITED, they have three songs that could be performed at your office Christmas party.
- “Do a Little Good” is safe and fun to sing with the entire family.
- “Good Afternoon” is the perfect f*ck you holiday song, and that CHOCOLAT reference is 😆
- “That Christmas Mornin’ Feeling” punctuates the movie to close on a high note.
On to the not-so-scary future, where I could easily see SPIRITED playing on…
Broadway – After rewatching parts of SPIRITED, I’m convinced “the view from here” on the screen should’ve been a Broadway musical. It would have audience participation, and the musical numbers could’ve soared. I predict I’ll attend a doubleheader of this movie adapted to the stage along with THE GREATEST SHOWMAN in my not-so-distant future.
Despite an “Unredeemable” past, the present “Brings Back Christmas” just enough to make it worth the audience’s time in the future.
It’s available on Apple TV+.