Ferrell & Reynolds Can’t Sing But They Will Make You Laugh
Jan 26, 2023
Home Movie Reviews Spirited Review: Ferrell & Reynolds Can’t Sing But They Will Make You Laugh
Delivering a crap-talking Christmas musical with a heart of gold is no small feat & even though Spirited isn’t a great movie, it is still a good time.
Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds’ take on A Christmas Carol is surprisingly moving when all the pieces are in place. Spirited’s open distaste for musicals is never overplayed and the songs themselves won’t blow anyone away, but there aren’t any duds either. Director Sean Anders (That’s My Boy), who co-wrote the script with John Morris, is going for a down-the-line Christmas movie with a touch of raunchy humor and he and the entire production team are successful in that. No one will mistake Reynolds and Ferrell for Hall and Oates, but they are rarely asked to stretch their voices. Christmas movies, good or bad, have many ways of being effective. Anders mixed quite a few subgenres to make a solid film. Delivering a crap-talking Christmas musical with a heart of gold is no small feat and, even though Spirited isn’t a great movie, it is still a good time.
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In a world where the ghosts of Christmas Present, Past, and Yet-To-Come all work for a well-run conglomerate, one case catches the eye of Present (Ferrell). Clint Briggs (Reynolds) is a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge who stoops so low as to encourage his young niece to run a smear campaign in her student election. Present steps in and tries to take Clint on a journey alongside Past (Sunita Mani) and Yet-To-Come (Tracy Morgan), but at every turn Clint’s abrasive personality derails them. Present gives in a little and forms a bond with Clint. Clint is even able to glean some private information that makes him realize they have more in common than he initially thought. Their friendship gets Clint back on board, and he eventually sees the error of his ways.
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Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in Spirited
The music in Spirited is very talky and not very melodic. Musicals where the cast talks through each musical number often use that to move the story forward. In this case, it is more likely to cover up the leads’ vocal limitations. In any case, it is one of the few letdowns of the movie. Ferrell and Reynolds are not moving the plot forward in a song; rather, they’re repeating the film’s clichés. Present’s boss, in particular, voices their lament whenever a song is about to start in Spirited, and it’s a joke that never gets old. The joke is taken one step further as the employees at this fictional company comment on the fact that musicals seemingly take place out of nowhere in their place of work.
The dirty jokes and cursing in Spirited are tuned to just the right frequency. This is not Bad Santa, nor is it Home Alone. And though there is some sexual innuendo, it’s based on Ryan Reynolds being attractive. That said, Spirited finds room to be a family film with family-friendly themes without sacrificing any of its humor. The fine line this PG-13 comedy walks is a tightrope, but Anders and his team pull it off.
Ryan Reynolds in Spirited
Where Spirited falls short is in its runtime. At a little over two hours, the film is practically begging for a shorter cut, and it’s truly a shame since It’s not really any one scene or plot that holds the film back. Sure, Octavia Spencer and Will Ferrell’s characters have a love story that is tacked on at times, but it winds up being one of the more wholesome and meaningful parts of their storylines. Simply put, Spirited’s musical numbers needed to be shorter. The film ends on a reprise and the final shot pans to the cast and crew. That image is extraordinary for so many reasons. One can feel the love on set, and it might even bring one to tears. After cutting to black, Ferrell asks if the audience wants to hear another song. It’s a reminder that musicals can be fun, but they can also be long.
Spirited is a welcome entry to the slate of Christmas movies. The leads are great in their roles and acceptable as singers. The cast is hilarious and more impressively, almost every joke lands. Apple TV+ hasn’t had much luck outside of Coda in terms of making a splash with their films and Spirited will not change that. But damn it if it isn’t a good old-fashioned and fun Christmas flick.
Next: Slumberland Review: Jason Momoa Shines In Dull Family-Friendly Fantasy Adventure
Spirited is now streaming on Apple TV+. The film is 127 minutes long and rated PG-13 for language, some suggestive material, and thematic elements.
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