After its November 11 theatrical debut, Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds‘ Spirited is now streaming on Apple TV+. The Christmas movie musical features 12 brand new songs from the Oscar-winning music and lyrics duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, The Greatest Showman), and these tracks are bonafide ear worms that’ll have you bopping along all season long.
The music from Spirited sounds exactly how Christmas fanfare should — big, bright melodies with lyrics that teach a lesson, and of course — with its hilarious leading men — they’re loaded with humor. But Reynolds and Ferrell don’t make a joke out of the singing and dancing. They’re fully committed to the musical structure and look like they’re having a blast while doing it. And truly, Ferrell and Reynolds are a perfect on-screen pair we can’t believe we haven’t gotten before.
Spirited is a fun new spin on A Christmas Carol. In this tale, viewers go behind the scenes of the afterlife company charged with picking a “perp” to haunt on every Christmas Eve. Leading the large gaggle of ghosts is Jacob Marley himself, played by Broadway star Patrick Page (The Gilded Age). This Marley isn’t trapped in his chains forever like in the Charles Dickens classic, but rather dons them once a year to kick off the annual yuletide haunting. Ferrell plays the ghost of Christmas Present with Sunita Mani (Glow) as the ghost of Christmas Past who’s forever bound for an HR writeup and Tracy Morgan and Loren Woods as the ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come (Morgan voices the character, Woods takes on its physical form).
Reynolds plays the modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge, Clint Briggs, a media tycoon who orchestrates internet scandals and outrage in order to sell a product. His head of opposition research is Kimberly, played by the always wonderful Octavia Spencer. Kimberly has an existential crisis after years of causing chaos with Clint takes its emotional toll. And Ferrell’s Present takes a special interest in her, which in turn allows her to see him as he tries his best to spook Clint.
Unsurprisingly, Clint defies every journey the ghosts try to take him on. He wasn’t the ghostly org’s first choice — Marley gave him the dreaded “unredeemable” stamp, meaning there’s no hope he’ll change his ways. Present is determined to make Clint the second unredeemable perp to successfully make it through the program (the first seen in this movie is a suburban Karen, played by Rose Byrne — other delightful surprise cameos include Buddy the Elf and another movie star we won’t spoil for you).
Will trying to change Clint push Present to take his retirement package? Can people really change? Those are the dilemmas at play in Spirited, an entirely entertaining new Christmas tale that’s sure to be a yearly watch for movie musical lovers.
Spirited‘s soundtrack is some of Pasek and Paul’s best music yet. The songs maintain their signature sound while managing to feel entirely different from the rest of their catalogue. And choreographer Chloe Arnold delivers joyfully massive dance numbers that we’d love to see on stage. Here are our favorite musical numbers from Spirited, in order of appearance.
1.”That Christmas Morning Feelin'” (Opening Number & Curtain Call)
This high-energy dance number bookends the movie musical as the intro to the ghostly organization and the big finish. It’s exposition for their yearly mission and intros to all of the afterlife’s main players. At the end, it’s a heartwarming button wrapping up the new twist on the Dickens tale. And yes, it does sound like Christmas morning, bells and all.
2. “Bringin’ Back Christmas”
Reynolds’ big solo opening act establishes his Clint as the dastardly media mogul he is. In this number, he’s speaking before a Christmas tree farmers convention, inspiring them to sow hate online in order to sell more real trees instead of the plastic ones. As the number (and the whole movie) shows, Clint really can sell anything: even a horrible time for many for the benefit of the few.
3. “Good Afternoon”
When Ferrell’s Present takes Clint deeper into the past than he should, Clint learns the time period’s favorite profanity: Good afternoon. It equates to “f*** you,” and Clint urges Present to sing it loud for all to hear and bring out his bad side. Of course, it’s for Clint’s own benefit so he doesn’t have to change. The staging is massive and includes a tap duet between the leading men, and Reynolds naturally jokes about his mediocre dancing at the end of it
Ferrell belts his heart out in Present’s big “I want” song halfway through the film. “Redeemable” marks the pivotal turning point for Present as he decides what he wants for his afterlife.
5. “The View From Here” Reprise
Spencer’s Kimberly has one ballad that she repeats throughout the film in different variations. The first is an emotional solo, followed by a duet with Ferrell, and then she closes out with a powerful reprise that doesn’t last long enough. It’s the emotional impact of this final version that we love the most.
6. “Do a Little Good”
Like the Dickens tale, Clint finds himself changed at the end (though there’s still a twist after this). The second-to-last musical number is a spirited romp that sums up the lessons learned by the two leading men. At the end, I said “I’m so proud of these guys!” out loud. Seeing them leading a musical is truly just fun. Let yourself lean into the fun of it, and you won’t be disappointed.
7. “Ripple (Cut Song)”
“Ripple” was teased earlier in the film before Marley cut Present off, but we’re so glad it was included as a Spirited end-credits scene. It’s a spectacle of a dance number combining tap and other styles, and like Marley halfway through, we started singing along before the song was done. This hook will be stuck in your head for days.