Twelve Days of Completely Secular Yuletide: Spirited is a little confused, but it does have some of the holiday spirit

You know A Christmas Carol. It’s been done and overdone a thousand times — The Muppet Christmas Carol, Scrooged, Barbie in A Christmas Carol, Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

Spirited (2022) took that personally. Director Sean Anders essentially said, “I am going to make an adaptation so different,” and different it was.

The movie follows the Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) as he, along with the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future, haunt souls year after year. Along with their ‘spirit’ team of behind-the-scenes crew members, they decide upon borderline unethical PR consultant Clint Briggs, played by Ryan Reynolds, as the person to haunt for the next year.

Only Briggs is well aware of the Charles Dickens story and refuses to be haunted — he believes people never change. He twists the haunting onto Present, getting him to question if he enjoys his work or if he should retire and go back to Earth where he could pursue a romance with Briggs’ coworker, Kimberly (played by Octavia Spencer).

Oh, and I didn’t tell you it was a musical? Yeah, that was a surprise to me too. Please bring back advertising musicals as musicals (I’m looking at you Mean Girls).

If you think this movie feels a little all over the place, you’re not alone. For the first half of the film, I couldn’t even decipher what the main plot was — there were romances for both Present and Briggs, I didn’t really know who the protagonist was and there were plot holes (although these were explained later in the film).

There was a lot of good that kept me going though.

Tracy Morgan as the Ghost of Christmas Future was something I didn’t think I needed, but adored. As a former theatre crew member, I appreciate how this film really tied the ‘haunting’ performance to all the behind-the-scenes actors like costumers, stagehands and prop designers.

And once I understood what the actual plot was (Present is trying to see if he really is a good person and is using Briggs as a vessel to make that point to himself), it was a really great story.

It begs the question of what being a good person is, and if people changing is something instant or if it’s something that people choose to do every single day.

The film was not without its issues though.

I think Ferrell could’ve used more singing lessons. There were too many fourth wall breaks (including obvious Sephora product placement). I definitely do not agree that Dolly Parton was a haunted and now redeemed soul. You could tell the film was written by men based on how many times they mentioned Ryan Reynolds’ hotness — I’m romantically attracted to men and I don’t even like him that much.

And lastly, I really wished that this film just embraced the musical element. The choreography (done by Chloe Arnold) was wonderful and referenced a stage production with its exaggerated movements and intricate steps. There’s no point in knocking down your own movie with snide remarks about how characters are bursting into song whenever — just embrace the vision for what it is, not what society wants it to be.

Based on Arnold’s tap dance background, I wish they had more tap numbers in the film — the best tap number was deleted (albeit included in the credits) and the small amount of tap dancing in the movie was basic at best and obviously overlaid with the sounds in post-production.

But for a Christmas story that’s oversaturated the market, this film takes unexpected turns that made it into a movie worth watching at least once.