On Christmas Eve, the ghosts of the Past, Present and Future choose a lost soul in need of moral and emotional salvation from a sinful existence. This year, this soul is a successful businessman Clint (Ryan Reynolds), a man who has lost his fear and conscience. However, instead of learning the lesson, Clint awakens an identity crisis in the very ghost of the Present (Will Ferrell), who is clearly tired of his moralizing image.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the most famous (and moralizing!) works in pop culture, which has hundreds of references in modern cinema, from episodes of Beavis and Butt-head to full-fledged adaptations directed by Richard Donner (A New Christmas fairy tale”), Mark S. Waters (“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”) and Robert Zemeckis (“A Christmas Carol”). The roles of Scrooge at various times were performed by Bill Murray, Jim Carrey and Matthew McConaughey.
In the new version of the fairy tale, the classic plot has not changed much: all the same three ghosts of the Past, Present and Future travel through the life of the protagonist, breaking into the most personal memories, trying to conduct a painful psychotherapy session and, finally, lead Clint to the true path. With only one amendment: now the ghosts of the Past, Present and Future are not just magical spirits, but employees of some international corporation that has been correcting human souls for thousands of years. Like all ordinary mortals, they dream of retirement, start office romances and are afraid of evil bosses. They might even get paid. Here, a special group of specialists in special effects is responsible for restoring personal moments from the client’s life, and the work itself is carried out according to a special scenario agreed in advance with the director. Why, they even have their own personal eychar.
A parody of corporate culture is probably the only truly “fresh” idea in the film by Sean Anders (“Hello, Dad New Year!”), Because in everything else, Spirited repeats the original source almost line by line, supplementing it with postmodern gags and unpretentious songs on the background of a decorated Christmas tree. It all feels like some kind of sketch show in places, an extended Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live, where the plot works as a setting for jokes, and not vice versa.
The genre of the musical, like everything in this film, is rather arbitrary: there is no dizzying choreography of Singing in the Rain, the dramatic scope of Les Misérables, or the melancholic sincerity of La La Land. Singing Ryan Reynolds, of course, is a rare guest in our area, but not as important and necessary as it might seem at first glance. Will Ferrell here completely departed from the role of a comedian, reincarnated as an eternally tired ghost who secretly dreams of returning to simple earthly joys, to remove the third part of the Anchorman in the end.
In the Spirited feels like a quintessential streaming product, designed solely to take a place in Apple TV+’s holiday movie library and be used for background viewing with friends at best. One thing is reassuring: filming all this was, of course, a lot of fun.