Review by Adam Donato
Regal has been doing a fun little promotion as of late where they show a movie that has not been released yet for only $5. The screening is on a Monday night and is advertised with a large question mark. What a beautiful opportunity to trick audiences into seeing something they normally wouldn’t have seen under the guise of unlimited possibilities. The first of these screenings was hotly anticipated and turned out to be The Greatest Beer Run Ever from Apple TV+, a silly movie where Zac Efron goes to Vietnam to show support for his brothers in arms directed by the always astute Peter Farrelly. The second of these screenings still had audiences scratching their chin as to what it could possibly be. The popular lazy guess was Apple TV+’s new Christmas Carol reimagination Spirited because it’s from the same studio. Lo and behold, Apple TV+ strikes again.
About the movie itself and not its release, Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell join forces for a comedy musical centered around the most classic Christmas tale known to man. A Christmas Carol has been done so many times, even The Muppets have done it. How can a story like this be fresh? The twist this story takes on the concept is not unlike Arthur Christmas, where the operation is run like a regular business. The haunting of the three ghosts is a routine affair being conducted by higher beings. This self aware approach acknowledges how run of the mill this story is and makes light of it. What’s better than the comedic benefit is what this change does for the theme of the movie. By the end, it’s still the same old story, but somehow they managed to squeeze out just enough juice for a glass.
Reynolds and Ferrell is an odd pairing, to say the least. As Ferrell seems to be a shell of the comedic powerhouse he used to be, Reynolds is reaching new heights with the Deadpool franchise and whatever science fiction comedy Shawn Levy has next. While most would agree that Ferrell has the better comedic acting chops, the question Spirited asks — which nobody has ever asked before — is which one of these guys can sing better. That’s right, baby. This is a full blown musical. It’s such a musical that there’s a character whose main bit is to complain every time a new number is about to start. All of the songs in the movie are generally fun and work in the context of the story and tone. The only problem is there’s nothing particularly memorable to add to your Spotify playlist (Spotify is to Apple Music as Netflix is to Apple TV+). That being said, having this be a musical lets this adaptation of the classic story stand out amongst the field that much more.
Somebody’s mom is going to love this movie so much. It’s generally fun and full of heart. It’s overly long, running at just over two hours, but there’s enough going on to keep audiences engaged. It will be interesting to see if Spirited makes an impact this Christmas season as streaming movies very easily slip into obscurity, especially since this is on one of the less popular streaming services. In keeping with the theme of this review, Spirited has just enough personality and unique aspects to be worth a watch. Check it out with the family this holiday season. If there’s another Mystery Movie Night screening in a month from now, it will surely be Will Smith’s Emancipation.
Spirited hits theaters on November 11 and Apple TV+ on November 18.