Ryan Reynolds's Spirited Has Screened, See What Critics Are Saying About The Christmas Movie With Will Ferrell

Holiday movie season is upon us, thanks to upcoming movies like Violent Night, Falling for Christmas and even A Christmas Story Christmas waiting to make their impending debuts. This year, the first film to be taking one for the holiday cheer team is the Apple Original musical comedy Spirited, which sees Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell teaming up to dance, sing, and snark their way through another riff on A Christmas Carol.

With the movie freshly screened, and reviews now dropping, we can finally see what critics are saying about this new Christmas movie. As you might imagine with a fresh take on an old classic, the resulting responses are a bit of a mixed bag. We’ll start things off with what Peter Debruge from Variety had to say, as he’s part of the crowd that’s more positive on what director Sean Anders’ latest caper had to offer:

It takes a while to warm up, but this musical update of a holiday classic — featuring a couple catchy new songs from Pasek and Paul — should make for 'good afternoon' viewing this season.

That sounds like a cautiously optimistic take if there ever was one, but it’s not that surprising. As the trailer for Spirited presented some interesting glimpses at what looks like it could be a divisive comedy, the Ferrell/Reynolds machine’s meeting with the songwriting prowess of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul sounds like a killer combo. Kristy Puchko with Mashable noted as much in her review of the project, with some extra caveats on why she was ultimately disappointed with the end result:

In the end, Spirited is a good-on-paper concept that is frustratingly flubbed with lackluster punchlines, confounding cinematography coverage, and an inept execution that sours what should have been sensationally sweet and salty.

Singing and dancing added to A Christmas Carol isn’t a new idea, but there’s still mileage in that approach if you’ve got a novel spin. While Ryan Reynolds was nervous over that gimmick being implemented in Spirited, some critics are still on board with what they’ve seen. Here’s what Collider’s Ross Bonaime had to say, as part of his own positive take on this flick:

Sean Anders' musical twist on the Dickens classic makes some odd choices, but has its heart in the right place.

No matter what side of the fence people seem to land on, one inevitable comparison was bound to happen. Thanks to Will Ferrell being cast as Spirited’s Ghost of Christmas Present, and his pedigree as a holiday fixture through his classic role in Elf, that movie is just waiting to be invoked when discussing his latest yuletide yuk fest. Josh Spiegel at /Film made that connection in his review, though what follows is not exactly holly jolly:

A movie like Elf, as its opening credits suggest, seemingly sprung to life out of a children's book. Spirited evokes the sense that it sprung to life out of a series of focus-group sessions among corporate executives.

Closing out this initial roundup of reviews is Jude Dry at IndieWire, who saw the good in Spirited. Even with a comparison to director Jon Favreau’s offbeat cheer factory, Dry made this positive observation: 

The holiday musical is zippy A Christmas Carol riff that will delight fans of Elf, tap-dancing, and Octavia Spencer.

Where Spirited sits among the many adaptations of A Christmas Carol remains to be seen, due to its fresh debut onto the scene. There’s a lot of competition that needs to be vetted, and the overall consensus on the movie as an individual offering still remains to be seen as well.

If this critical sampling is any indication, it looks like Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell’s latest will be quite the movie to debate over the holiday table for some time to come. Those of you ready to deck the halls with the Christmas cheer that Spirited has to offer can start your planning to do so immediately. That is, if you're able to head to its theatrical release on November 11th. 

However, those of you with an Apple TV+ subscription and some patience can postpone the festivities. The streaming debut for Spirited is set to take place just a week later, on November 18th, so you can fit any other big ticket releases into your watch list. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.