Starring Ryan Reynolds as Clint Briggs, the mean-spirited and wayward soul in need of intervention, and Will Ferrell as the Ghost of Christmas Present (or, simply, Present), Spirited is yet another story and adaptation based on the classic Dickens tale A Christmas Carol.
Present has spent many years intervening in the lives of mankind as they navigate a world that is difficult, harsh, and easy to get lost in. He has been eligible for retirement for quite some time, but has been unable to leave his work and return to a life for himself. This is when he meets Clint Briggs, who quickly catches Present’s attention. Briggs is a media consultant who has a had a career in controversy and slipper tactics to stir up attention for his clients. As Present and Briggs get to know each other more, and Briggs goes through his past, present, and future, events and new information arise that require Briggs to reconsider his life, interactions with others, and the relationships he has built up. Sounds a lot like A Christmas Carol, right?
Throughout this movie, the character of Present reveals his own story to Clint Briggs in an effort to convince him of what he is trying to do, which presents an interesting twist on the classic tale. Briggs’ response to this is an especially remarkable sight as he begins to understand what is happening.
Spirited is, in so many ways, a story that we have already watched. The transporting of Briggs through his life and the decisions he has made, reconciling with himself and others, and evaluating the impact that his actions have had on others all come straight out of A Christmas Carol, but with a modern retelling that is set in the present day. This naturally begs the question: do we really need another Christmas Carol? The simply answer is no. Even with a new polish, this adaptation feels unnecessary and does not necessarily offer anything new to the genre of Christmas movies.
To their credit, Ryan Reynolds’ and Will Ferrell’s onscreen chemistry works. As two leading men, their personalities shine through as they go back and forth with each other, challenge each other, and ultimately push each other to be their better selves. One fun thing that Spirited provides is that this film is also a musical. With plenty of singing, dancing, and choreography, Reynolds and Ferrell bounce off of each other as they present a medley of performances in their search for purpose and a happy life. This breaks up the usual formula we, as viewers, have seen with these types of movies and makes the story so much better.
Spirited is fun viewing for the family as they come together for the holidays, and it is a great movie to put on in the background while meals are being cooked and loved ones are catching up, or just to entertain the kids. But if you are looking for a better adaptation of The Christmas Carol, there are plenty of other options this holiday season.