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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: Spirited

Each Christmas Eve, the ghost of Christmas Present selects one dark soul to be reformed by a visit from three spirits. But this season, he picked the wrong Scrooge. Clint Briggs turns the tables on his ghostly host until Present finds himself examining his own past present and future. For the first time, A Christmas Carol is told from the perspective of the ghosts in this hilarious musical twist on the classic Dickens tale.

Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell & Octavia Spencer.

Spirited is one for the family, while brimming with life and energy, Sean Anders warped adaptation of the Christmas Carol story is far from perfect. 

As a big fan of Ryan Reynolds, I don’t believe he was fully utilised as an actor. While very impressive during musical sequences, particularly with his body language and expressiveness to him, his character work is left much to be desired. In the film, words speak louder than actions, which is clear from the beginning when Ryan’s character Clint is stating boldly how bad of a person he is. However, Ryan’s nice demeanour to him never sells this idea, clearly being too witty and exaggerated that I couldn’t buy that he was a bad person, nor did he particularly change his physical attitude by the end. I would have liked Sean to push Ryan a little further with his acting ability, as we’ve seen through ‘Deadpool 2’ & ‘The Adam Project’, that he’s clearly capable of more dramatic moments. 

To those who love Will Ferrell as Buddy in ‘Elf’ will certainly love him here too, channelling a lot of that character into certain moments. His character took an exciting turn in the 2nd act that I didn’t see coming, but welcomed it with open arms that pulled me back into the film after certain story threads appeared to go nowhere. There are moments that I found particularly funny, but for the most part, a lot of the comedy didn’t work for me involving him and his character. 

For a 100 million budget Christmas film, I thought it was utilised quite poorly. A lot of the sets felt too staged, rather than an actual film yet. Begging the “should it have been a theatrical musical adaptation rather than a film?”, a question I raised many instances due to the budget and the strange contrast it had with scenes that didn’t feel staged. While I enjoyed the new take on the story of The Christmas Carol, I thought it could have gone more original in certain places. The film introduces a certain decision that could have gone another way early in the film & I’m disappointed it didn’t, as I felt as though it would have brought more humanity to the story which was very fantasised & exaggerated, as well as taking the story in a more unique route. 

Although the flaws are there, it’s certain that many will have a great time with this, especially with family or a significant other. Ryan, Will & Octavia clearly have great chemistry and dynamic between one another that I had a joy watching. Musical sequences between the three are great to look at, seen through the wonderful choreography & art direction that is difficult to look away from. The comedy is there and it mostly comes from Ryan, as his witty comedy is more suited with my own taste rather than Will’s less subtle delivery of jokes that kids would find more amusing. 

Overall, while I don’t think it doesn’t anything major with the modern retelling of the book, it was a film I had a great time with and look forward to seeing if Ryan Reynolds weaves into a few more musicals, as he was personally the standout here. With a runtime that could be shaven down a little bit, the pacing here is enough to keep everyone at home engaged. 

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