While there’s no such thing as too many Christmas Carol adaptations, Apple TV’s Spirited falls a bit short in its emotional heart as it focuses more closely on the music and the comedic beats. Still, it’s a thrilling time, no less, especially for those of us who are complete and utter Christmas saps.
The film stars Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, Octavia Spencer, Sunita Mani, Marlow Barkley, Aimee Carrero, Joe Tippett, Patrick Page, and a few other known faces whose cameos viewers should go into unspoiled. In the same way that Apple TV’s Schmigadoon! brings a whole lot of laughs, Spirited does the same, as it allows Ferrell and Reynolds to have an absolute blast through and through.
At times, watching the film feels like a massive trip down some bizarre Dickens wonderland where you’re not sure what’s going to burst through the next corner. However, once it finds its footing and kicks the redemption storyline into motion, it brings to our screens refreshing meta twists. There’s not a dull moment in the film, even when it feels like we’re entering a bit of a lull where the story doesn’t quite know where it’s going.
The cast does all the heavy lifting when the screenplay fails to accomplish what it’s trying to do, but it mainly works because of comedic legends like Ferrell and Reynolds, who do their best work when they lean all into the doozy plot points. There’s a moment in the film where it’s unclear whether the story will deliver the Christmas Carol ending we’re all used to, which allows the actual ending to work much better as it surprises the audiences with the campiest twist a holiday film has featured this year.
Octavia Spencer’s Kimberly is an absolute delight, as she once again brings a comforting, resilient presence to our screens. There’s never a role where Spencer won’t steal the show, and that’s certainly the case here as she provides an exciting connection between the two worlds, leading to an ending similar to this year’s Hallmark favorite, Ghosts of Christmas Always.
The appeal of Apple TV’s Spirited comes entirely from the meta-storytelling, the music, and the show-stopping cast. If you’re a fan of musicals, then you’ll likely have a blast while adding a song, or two, or all to your never-ending holiday playlists. The choreography and the catchy tunes work wondrously to bring an element of heart to the film, even when it grows grim and distressing.
More on Apple TV+: Schmigadoon!: The Deliriously Delicious Spectacle
The story of redemption and whether or not one night can genuinely achieve it plays a massive role in the character arcs, making the classic tale feel a bit more believable as it tries to sell the authentic changes taking place. Can people truly be redeemed after one night full of past, present, and future hauntings? Or are human beings more complex than that? The film tries to target the profundity of mortality, but it sadly loses itself at times. However, this detail doesn’t change the fact that the film still features quality entertainment as the audience ponders these questions after the final note.
Spirited is now streaming exclusively on Apple TV+.