Christmas movies have become such a huge part of our yuletide traditions of late. But finding a really good new one to add to the list of all-time classics has been a bit tricky. We all love ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone’, ‘Love Actually’, ‘Die Hard’ (cough) and the like, but it’s no secret that although we have had a huge number of festive flicks come our way in recent years – thanks largely to Christmas channels and the Hallmark network – a really great new theatrical Christmas movie still eludes us. Now ‘Spirited’ isn’t quite in the all-time classics list, however it’s been a very long time since a Christmas movie has tried to deliver something so rapturous and delightful on such a big scale. And for that reason, ‘Spirited’ is one of the best Christmas movies we’ve seen in decades.
Apple TV+ have spared no expense in making this a lavish and beautiful blockbuster, full of star power, amazing musical numbers and a story that gleefully tugs at your heartstrings. Using Charles Dickens timeless classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ as its basis, ‘Spirited’ gives us this updated take on the story from the perspective of the Ghosts. It’s a novel approach and one that yields high rewards, especially with this talented ensemble.
Every Christmas Eve, the ghosts of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani), Present (Will Ferrell) and Yet-To-Come (Loren G. Woods and Tracy Morgan), along with the head of their department Jacob (Patrick Page) decide on a lost soul to save by next Christmas. Having been in the job for quite some time, the Ghost of Christmas Present decides to take on a new challenge – namely Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds). Although he’s listed as ‘unredeemable’, Present believes he can change him, and goes about planning his elaborate intervention. However even he can’t predict how this will end up going, as Clint proves to be a far trickier client than expected.
The ensemble makes this such a joy to watch, with Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds bouncing off one-another’s performances. They are a great double-act, with Ferrell bringing his usual sweet yuletide charm to the table. Reynolds delivers one of his best performances as Clint, giving the character a bit of depth and emotional baggage that we can all relate to. The rest of the supporting cast are all solid too with Sunita Mani very funny as Christmas Past, who has a crush on Clint and acts on it. The double act of Loren G. Woods and Tracy Morgan give Christmas Yet-To-Come a hilarious turn, but with just the right amount of scariness to make it all work. Patrick Page is engaging as Jacob, the boss of the whole enterprise, who also helps you piece together some of the secrets that this film has under its sleeve. Octavia Spencer is sensational in this and gives the film some real heart.
‘Spirited’ works most effectively as a really expressive, toe-tapping musical, with songs and set-pieces that are straight out of a hit Broadway show. They are all genuinely great musical numbers, that both entertain and further the story on in a brilliant way. Again, Apple TV+ have spared no expense in this department either, producing a very well-made performance that hits all of its high notes. Octavia Spencer in particular shines in the musical moments.
‘Spirited’ really is a wonderful festive treat that the whole family are sure to enjoy. When you have talent like Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer (who all bring their A-game to the table), then you are assured a giant hit. ‘Spirited’ evokes the bygone days of a great Christmas movie with a heartfelt and relevant message at its core. I thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish, and it’s guaranteed to leave a big smile on your face, as you hum the numerous, catchy songs for hours after watching it. And keep your eyes peeled for a few big surprise cameos too.
Cast: Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, Octavia Spencer, Sunita Mani, Loren G. Woods, Tracy Morgan, Patrick Page, Andrea Anders, Marlow Barkley, Joe Tippett Director: Sean Anders Writer: Sean Anders, John Morris Certificate: 12A Duration: 127 mins Released by: Apple TV+ Release date: 19th November 2022