A real blast: AppleTV+ adds a modern-day twist to a familiar holiday tale with ‘Spirited’

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in "Spirited. (Photo courtesy of AppleTV+)

It’s that time of the year again when you get to sit back on the couch, sip on some hot cocoa next to the sparkling Christmas tree and enjoy your holiday favorites. And AppleTV+ just might have the right piece to add to your playlist.

The streaming service debuted “Spirited” on Nov. 18. A new holiday original musical starring comedic actors Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, the film puts a modern-day twist into a familiar tale.

Its predecessor, “A Christmas Carol,” seemed to be the fountain of inspiration, but “Spirited” adds a 2022 feel that is recognizable in nearly every scene.

Unlike the heartwarming tale of the Scrooge, “Spirited” largely lives under a comedic cloud. The story follows Reynolds’ character, Clint Briggs, who manages public relations and is the boss of his own firm. Briggs is cold-hearted, selfish and the perfect model to be transformed during the holidays.

Ferrell, 55, plays a ghost and attempts to rescue Briggs by redeeming him. But along the way they both run into troubles.

Ferrell, widely known for his role in the unfailing holiday motion picture “Elf,” is no stranger to holiday movies. He took on the challenge of showcasing his funny side and incorporating choreography and singing.

“The director, the music team, Chloe Arnold our choreographer was trusting us to be at the same level as everyone else that you’d find in a broadway musical, so basically, that was the big difference,” Ferrell said at the premiere in New York. “Testing ourselves pushing ourselves beyond the limit to see if we could do something like this.”

Ferrell was not the only star put to the test. Academy award-winning actress Octavia Spencer, 52, who plays Kimberly, Ferrell’s love interest in the film, also accepted the challenge.

“I’m not a singer and I’m not a dancer you know,” Spencer said. “I walk and talk, so trying to marry all of that is like ‘ah.’ But you know what, we all found it challenging, but also found the reward in it.”

Although it was rated PG-13, this modernized take on “The ghost of Christmas past” is clearly geared towards an older audience. Romantic scenes between characters, omnipresent dialogue about those romances, and even some swear words highlight those key differences in the remake.

There is also a sense of corporate sponsorship sprinkled in as viewers perhaps plan their shopping lists. Brand names are visible in some scenes, and some props in the film are even sponsored, including one from makeup retailer, Ulta Beauty.

Nonetheless, the holiday movie is still a hit, with creativity flowing in all directions. Reynolds, 46, who has starred in movies such as “The Proposal,” “Green Lantern,” and most notably, “Dead Pool,” believes it all comes down to the level of detail.

“It’s been a lot of fun you know,” Reynolds said. “There’s all that creative freedom you want, which I think Apple is pretty well known for. I mean, there’s the embodiment and supportive storytelling from the most granular level to the most macro level. I’ve loved every second of it. It’s been a real blast.”

The movie contains big musical numbers with original songs titled, “Do a Little Good,” “That Christmas Morning Feeling” and “Good afternoon,” which involves a tap dancing number by the main protagonists, Reynolds and Ferrell.

“The good afternoon sequence was so much fun because everybody was involved in it,” Reynolds said. “All the dancers were there; who were also our teachers; all the dancers behind us. They were so supportive. But Will and I had some of the hardest stuff to do, and that was where the tap dancing came in so that was probably my favorite moment.”

Even though it’s a revamped version of “A Christmas Carol,” the message of showing kindness and goodness to those around you remains the same in this timeless classic.

Maria Lozada is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Digital Broadcast. She has a passion for writing and editing videos. She looks forward to graduating and pursuing a career in the media industry.