Spirited fails to be an instant holiday classic, but is immensely entertaining nevertheless

by Gordon Shelly

When you hear that Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds will be side-by-side in a musical Christmas movie, expectations are high! This is a big movie in every way imaginable. Big stars. Big sets. Big musical numbers. Big story. Big, big, and bigger.

In short, this is an updated take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, playing with the notion that Dickens’ story was based on a real person and there is a Christmas afterlife where ghosts haunt a single soul each and every year in the hopes of helping that person redeem themselves.

Ferrell plays the Ghost of Christmas Present and Reynolds is the unredeemable, Clint Briggs, who is a media consultant who specializes in stirring up controversy.

The story of Spirited turns the tables and breaks tradition somewhat. While Briggs must analyze his own life, the Ghost of Christmas Present, must analyze his current place as well.

There are a lot of funny and heartwarming moments and this seems like one of those movies where everyone probably had a lot of fun making it.

But it does have faults. It is a musical and there are many, many musical numbers. In the beginning the characters suggest that the afterlife itself is a musical, which would have been an interesting take, but the songs immediately bleed into the real world too.

While the musical portion is fun and (once again) big, the songs are very forgettable. There wasn’t a single song that I found myself humming along with or thinking about the next day. And, the movie itself, is too long. It clocks in at two hours and seven minutes.

The only reason for the extended runtime is to cram in a few more mediocre musical numbers. They could have easily pulled four songs from the movie, cut the runtime, told the same story and had the pacing tell a much better story.

The cast is strong and just when the movie starts to slow down (mostly do to the musical numbers), the actors pick up the pace and keep you interested.

Is it an instant Christmas or holiday classic? Probably not. I have no intention of watching it purposely again, but, nevertheless, it is a fun movie.

Gordon’s Grade: B