“Spirited” - Film Review

Story posted November 28, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Rachel Newnam.

An incredibly clever and creative take on the classic “Christmas Carol” stories, based on the Charles Dickens novel, “Spirited” has something for all audiences. From captivating musical numbers to witty one-liners and a number of well-known cast members, this film certainly carries the potential to be a timeless Christmas classic.

“Spirited” revolves around the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come, and their attempt to redeem Clint Briggs, played by Ryan Reynolds, in the same fashion that Ebeneezer Scrooge was once redeemed on Christmas Eve. The ghosts work for Jacob Marley at a spiritual corporation dedicated to the redemption of ill-mannered humans.

Throughout the film, the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Will Ferrell, brings Briggs, who is considered “unredeemable” by the ghosts, through different scenarios and tries to coerce him into a change of heart. Although Briggs repeatedly makes it clear that he has no interest in changing his ways, Present is incredibly dedicated to proving that even an unredeemable person can become someone of good character.

Throughout the film, Briggs and Present engage in clever banter that often rolls into a song that contains a lesson about the importance of being good. The music in “Spirited” is shockingly good, containing a variety of upbeat snappy songs about how wonderful Christmas and goodness are, as well as some downtempo ballads that tug on the heartstrings of viewers.

Kimberly, played by Octavia Spencer, sings one sentimental song about her desire to be more than Briggs’ “yes-man” corporate assistant. In “The View From Here” Kimberly wishes for a life in which, instead of constantly agreeing to do Briggs’ dirty work and dig up information on opponents, she has the courage to go against the status quo and do some good for the world. Although she is objectively successful, she feels as though she has wasted her career and has lost sight of what is right.

In contrast, Briggs and Present sing a rhythmic dancing tune titled “Good Afternoon.” The tongue-in-cheek ditty pokes fun at Ebeneezer Scrooge and his lesser-known catchphrase that was considered, in the words of Present, “a sick burn” in his day and age. The pair sing and dance around the streets of England in the 1890s as Briggs, acting as unredeemable as ever, convinces Present to wish many passersby a good afternoon. The quality of each musical number leaves viewers wondering if this production could be performed as a Broadway musical.

It becomes increasingly evident throughout the film that Present has a strong desire to return to his life on earth as a human, and Briggs encourages him to pursue this dream rather than continue his work redeeming humans. While Present sees Briggs’ encouragement as proof that he cares about his new friend’s happiness and therefore is not unredeemable, Briggs continues to argue that he is not a good guy and that he is only trying to get rid of the ghosts so he can return to his normal life.

Overall, “Spirited” was incredibly fun to watch. While some of the dialogue was corny and the film’s run-time was certainly too lengthy for its own good, there are very few flaws within this movie, and the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the cast makes it very difficult not to enjoy. The good parts of this movie are fantastic and certainly overshadow the few hiccups in the length and plot of the movie.

Rating: 4/5

Rachel Newnam is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email ren5102@psu.edu.

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