Spirited’s ‘offbeat charms are hard to resist’ – musical review

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A riotous opening song and dance sequence takes us behind the scenes of Charles Dickens’ miser-bothering ghosts who are recast as three undead performers putting on an annual scarefest for the person they judge is the year’s biggest, well, Scrooge.

At their hi-tech HQ, the ghosts of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell), Christmas Past (Sunita Mani) and Christmas Yet To Come (Tracy Morgan) are discussing their next target.

After threatening to burst into song again, Ferrell’s spook gets his way.

Their next “perp” will be charismatic PR guru consultant Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds) who made his fortune from disinformation.

He’s “the perfect combination of Mussolini and Seacrest” says Present, watching one of his slick presentations.

To the ghosts’ horror, Briggs refuses to be cowed, and there’s a conflict of interest when Present falls in love with Briggs’ long-suffering assistant (Octavia Spencer).

The plot is overstuffed and the drama lacks heart but the film’s offbeat charms are hard to resist.

There’s something inherently amusing about Ferrell’s earnest but limited singing voice and La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul deliver entertaining word play.

But some very grown-up language makes it a challenging evening for parents taken in by the casting of Ferrell. Elf is available on rival streaming platforms.

  • Spirited, Cert 12, On Apple TV+ now

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