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10 Poems That Capture the Spirit of Christmas
With the Christmas tree up and the house all decorated with twinkling lights and boughs of holly, you might be in the mood for a carol or two — or maybe a Christmas poem instead. Here are 10 poems that capture the spirit of Christmas.
Classic Christmas Poems
Any collection of Christmas poems just has to begin with the legendaryA Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore. With its classic opening lines, “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house/Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,” this poem is always one of the most popular to read and read aloud at Christmas time.
If you’re interested in a poem that would be ideal for Christmas church programs, The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would be a good choice. It tells the story of the kings who traveled to see Jesus. Longfellow captures their awe of the baby in verses like this one: “The little child in the manger lay,/The child, that would be king one day/Of a kingdom not human, but divine.”
Two Different Christmas Carols
Here are two poems with very similar names, A Christmas Carol by Christina Rossetti, and Christmas Carol by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar’s poem rings with the joy of Christmas morning when it says, “No, be not still,/But with a will/Strike all your harps and set them ringing.” Christina Rossetti’s poem takes on a more solemn tone, but touchingly explores her wondering of how to honor Jesus: “If I were a Wise Man/I would do my part,—/Yet what I can I give Him/Give my heart.”
Lighthearted Christmas Fun
Modernist poet E.E. Cummings (or e.e. cummings, as he preferred to write it), wrote a sweet address to a Christmas tree entitled [little tree]. The narrator of the poem talks to the Christmas tree, describing how it’s going to be decorated, and then tells the tree, “when you’re quite dressed/you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see/and how they’ll stare!”.
Ianthe Waits by Margaret Deland, you meet children caroling merrily through the streets on Christmas Day, while “Noiseless footfalls in the snow,/Bring the happy voices nearer.”
A whimsical poem by Ted Kooser called Christmas Mail takes you on a ride through town with the mail carrier and imagines all of the Christmas cards she carries in her bag, including ones featuring “the shepherds and wise men,/the donkeys lank and weary,/the cow who chews and muses.”
Hope in Hard Times
Wartime Christmas by Joyce Kilmer is a thought-provoking reflection on how, even in the worst of times, Christmas can bring hope to those who need it. “While there are love and home —and these— /There shall be Christmas Day.”
Making Christmas Memories
Sometimes, the most memorable poems are those that capture the details of everyday moments, as Advent by Mary Jo Salter does. This poem describes a mother and daughter building a gingerbread house together. “I somehow split a wall,/the last one in the house/we’re making of gingerbread.”
In Mistletoe by Walter de La Mare, you can almost see a Christmas party winding down as the narrator, while sitting under the mistletoe, says, “One last candle burning low,/All the sleepy dancers gone,/Just one candle burning on,/Shadows lurking everywhere”.
These Christmas poems are a great start for building your own collection of favorite Christmas poetry. You can read these and many more Christmas poems for free online.
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A musical version of Charles Dickens's story of a miserly misanthrope who is taken on a magical journey. A musical version of Charles Dickens's story of a miserly misanthrope who is taken on a magical journey. A musical version of Charles Dickens's story of a miserly misanthrope who is taken on a magical journey.
- Sean Anders
- John Morris
- Will Ferrell
- Ryan Reynolds
- Octavia Spencer
- 418 User reviews
- 111 Critic reviews
- 55 Metascore
- See more at IMDbPro
- 8 nominations
- Clint Briggs
- (as Loren Woods)
- Ms. Blansky
- Neighbor Dad
- Neighbor Mom
- (as Ava Bernstine-Mitchell)
- Neighbor Girl
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
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Did you know
- Trivia When he's unable to remember Tiny Tim's name, Present suggests "Little Larry," which actually WAS one of the names Dickens considered for the character.
- Goofs When the spirits are discussing Clint, Yet-To-Come has a mobile phone in his hand which disappears in the next shot.
Present : [to the guy in a Buddy the Elf costume] You look stupid.
- Crazy credits A full (black & white) version of Present's "Ripple" song is shown over the second half of the credits, featuring a huge dance number and ending with a shot of the entire crew.
- Connections Featured in NFL Thursday Night Football: Week 16: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets (2022)
- Soundtracks Blansky's Redemption Written by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
User reviews 418
- Nov 20, 2022
- How long is Spirited? Powered by Alexa
- November 18, 2022 (United States)
- United States
- Linh Hồn Ngày Giáng Sinh
- Boston, Massachusetts, USA (street scenes)
- Apple Original Films
- Maximum Effort
- Gloria Sanchez Productions
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- $200,000,000 (estimated)
- Runtime 2 hours 7 minutes
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'Spirited' most fearsome ghost unmasked: The 7-foot-1 former NBA player under hood is 'sweetest guy'
In every version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," you fear the deathly silent Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
The horror is back In "Spirited," the hit AppleTV+ movie twist on Dickens' tale, with the physically ghastly presence of the towering ghost.
This Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is not just fearsome, but legit huge with 7-foot-1 former NBA player Loren Woods under the robes.
But on the set, the imposing Woods got along great with "Spirited" star Ryan Reynolds, who plays the snarky media guy haunted by Christmas ghosts (including Ghost of Christmas Present played by Will Ferrell).
"Loren Woods was just the sweetest guy," says Reynolds. "And he's a former NBA basketball player. He needed that to physically do everything that was required, all while wearing that horrible costume. But he was a delight."
'Spirited' stress dreams: Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell haunted by singing and dancing
The scary character is also ultimately played for laughs in "Spirited" when voiced by Tracy Morgan (Morgan's voice was added after filming).
Woods, who played for teams like the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors during his 6-year NBA career, makes his movie premiere in "Spirited" after appearing in the HBO Los Angeles Lakers TV series "Winning Time."
The 44-year-old actor says his Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come outfit weighed over 30 pounds. The bulky ensemble included a huge cloak going to the floor, a long leather vest (with chains and sticks attached) and a black headpiece that covered his face for extra spookiness.
"There were eyeholes in the headpiece. But I could only see what was directly in front of me," says Woods.
That's tough when the assignment called him to run or climb stairs, acts required of the ghost during his haunting period.
To make matters worse, "Spirited" was shot in Boston during four hot summer months. So those happy, winter dance numbers were sweat-inducing long days in sweltering weather.
Even Woods showed off some dance moves in his full outfit, and a singing voice, during the final musical number. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come can groove, keeping up with the professional dancers.
"Dancing in the full outfit was extremely difficult and hot!" says Woods. "The dance numbers were filmed during 10 to 12 hours a day. Needless to say, I had to be in great shape to pull it off."
Woods knows the movie is a great showcase of his talents. "Spirited," first released Nov. 11, has become an instant holiday favorite and was re-released in more than 100 theaters as a sing-along version on Dec. 16.
"And it prepared for the villain role in the next Dwayne Johnson movie," says Woods. "Should they decide to hit me up for the part."
Explaining the 'Elf' Easter Egg in 'Spirited'
There is a little "Elf in "Spirited."
The movie features Ferrell's Ghost of Christmas Present attending a Christmas party filled with classic Christmas characters. He runs into a party-goer dressed as Ferrell's famous character Buddy from the 2003 classic "Elf."
Director Sean Anders says he wanted to add the "Elf" character to the party, but wasn't sure if the joke was too meta, or what Ferrell would think of the Easter egg.
"Then Will came in one day and said, 'What if there was someone in an 'Elf' costume at the party?' and I said, 'Great!'" says Anders. "He pretty much just played with the character."
Ferrell's Present tells the "Elf" party-goer, "You look stupid," the polar opposite of what the eternally happy Buddy would say. The party-goer then shoots an angry "you look stupid" retort. It was all improv and the first take, says Anders.
Spirited cast & character guide.
A modern retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Spirited boasts an all-star class, including Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds.
Warning: Contains potential SPOILERS for Spirited A modern retelling of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol , Apple TV+'s Spirited offers a fresh take on the traditional story of seasonal redemption. Boasting an all-star cast, including Ryan Reynolds and Elf alumnus Will Farrell, the movie updates Dickens' 19th-century novella for a modern audience, with a surprising number of special effects and musical numbers. However, it is thanks to Spirited 's cast and characters that the movie really stands out.
Pledging to tell the Christmas Carol story from the ghosts' perspectives for the first time, the movie is almost a cross between the original book and Big Mouth spin-off Human Resources , revealing how the ghosts responsible for haunting Ebenezer Scrooge might interact behind the scenes. As such, there are plenty of opportunities for recognizable cameos and famous walk-ons. Here is the complete Spirited cast and character guide.
Related: Every Upcoming Ryan Reynolds Movie
Ryan Reynolds as Clint Briggs
Fulfilling the Scrooge-role in the movie, Ryan Reynolds plays Clint Briggs – a businessman described as having a " dark soul " in the movie's ominous narration. In many ways, however, this casting decision comes as something of a surprise. Reynolds is perhaps best-known for playing likable, if usually bumbling characters, utilizing the Canadian actor's natural charm, such as Guy in Free Guy and Pikachu in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu . However, his most iconic character is undoubtedly the foul-mouthed anti-hero Deadpool, which showcases Reynolds' ability to portray characters with a darkly comic edge. Younger and older versions of Briggs are played by Nico Tirozzui and Thomas P. Gillis respectively.
Will Ferrell as Present
Arguably the protagonist of the movie, Will Ferrell's Present is convinced that he can set Reynolds' Briggs on the path to seasonal redemption. As such, he spends the movie trying to show him the error of his ways, compelling Briggs to be a force for good in the world. Ferrell is a comedy veteran, having starred in a series of hits such as Anchorman , Step Brothers , and The Other Guys . He is also famous for starring in the beloved Christmas classic Elf .
Octavia Spencer as Kimberly
Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer stars alongside Reynolds and Ferrell as Kimberly, an employee of Briggs and a love interest of Present. As such, she plays a pivotal role in the narrative. In addition to the Apple TV+ movie, Spencer has won acclaim for her performances in Hidden Figures , The Help, and The Shape of Water .
Patrick Page as Marley
Fulfilling the traditional Jacob Marley ghost role from the original Christmas Carol , Patrick Page's Marley is sent to warn Briggs about his impending Yuletide adventure, as well as how his behavior has landed him in hot water. Actor Page has plenty of experience in other Christmas productions, having played The Grinch in the Broadway production of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! He has also had on-screen roles in 2021's In The Heights and the TV series The Gilded Age .
Related: The Muppets Christmas Carol: Why "When Love Is Gone" Is Missing In Some Cuts
Sunita Mani as Past
One of the central trio of ghosts, Sunita Mani's Past has something of a soft spot for Reynolds' Briggs, admitting to finding him attractive. As such, her ability to perform effectively as an advisory spirit is somewhat compromised. Mani is best-known for her television roles, particularly Mr. Robot and GLOW .
Loren G. Woods/Tracy Morgan as Yet To Come
Rounding off the main ghosts featured in Spirited is the double-act of Loren G. Woods and Tracy Morgan, who play the body and voice respectively of Yet To Come. Former basketball player Woods lends his imposing 7'1 frame to the character, while Morgan makes the most of his considerable voice-acting talents. Morgan has a range of acting credits to his name, including Rio and The Boxtrolls , whereas Spirited marks Woods' onscreen debut.
Spirited Supporting Cast And Characters
Aimee Carrero as Nora: As well as her role in Spirited , Carrero is known for her performances in fellow 2022 releases The Menu and Mack & Rita .
Joe Tippet as Owen: Beyond Spirited , Tippet has featured in the hit television series Mare of Eastown , as well as the 2022 horror movie Mr. Harrigan's Phone .
Judie Dench as Herself: In addition to her Spirited cameo, Dench is one of Britain's best-known actors. In an extensive and storied career, she has taken on multiple major roles, including M in the James Bond franchise.
Jimmy Fallon as Himself: Rounding out the famous Spirited cameos is late-night host Jimmy Fallon. A former SNL cast member, Fallon has also appeared as himself in movies as diverse as Jurassic World and Ted 2 .
Next: Is Disney Blaming Millennials For No Christmas Spirit?!
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Will Ferrell is the Ghost of Christmas Present in trailer for ‘Spirited’ movie
Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds are putting a new — and musical! — spin on Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol," like many Christmas movies that have come before.
In the movie "Spirited," Ferrell plays the Ghost of Christmas Present, who tries to get Reynolds' character, Clint Briggs, to change his selfish, cold-hearted ways. The tables turn when Present starts reexamining his own past, present and future.
On Wednesday, Nov. 2, Apple TV+ released the movie’s official trailer. At the start, Reynolds' character learns he's been selected by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-To-Come to reevaluate his life.
"Like 'A Christmas Carol'?" Reynolds' character Clint asks Marley (Patrick Page), with skepticism. “So out of all the people on the planet: murderers, people who do gender reveal parties? I’m the guy you’re going to haunt?”
"You know what? Forget it," Marley responds before taking off, hitting him in the face with a shackle in the process.
Within the mythology of the movie, Ebenezer Scrooge’s moral transformation in “A Christmas Carol” started an annual tradition: “Every Christmas Eve for almost 200 years, the spirits and their industrious support team have targeted one reprehensible human and forced them to relive some of their best and worst memories in an effort to make them a better person.”
Clint is the latest Ebenezer stand-in (called "perp" in the movie) — and he's openly doubtful of the process, saying that "people don't change." But after meeting Clint, Present he tells his spectral co-workers that he has faith Clint is capable of becoming a better person.
"I believe that he can be a positive force for mankind," he says of the marketing whiz, who built his career capitalizing on creating divisiveness among the general public.
Along the way, Present goes through his own transformation. For the first time, a human other than this year's "perp" can see him: Clint’s colleague Kimberly, played by Octavia Spencer.
In a press release, Ferrell opened up about why he wanted to tackle this film, which features musical numbers galore.
“‘A Christmas Carol’ told from the perspective of the ghosts? I said, ‘Great. I’ve never heard of that before.’ And then (director) Sean (Anders) said, ‘Oh, and it’s a musical.’ He claims there was a 30-second pause where he thought he’d lost me. Then I said, ‘That’s fantastic!’”
While enthusiastic about the role, Ferrell said he was "shocked" by the effort a musical required. Turns out the many musical sketches he did during his “Saturday Night Live” didn’t prepare him.
“I thought I knew what I was getting myself into,” he says. “I had no idea. We had seven weeks of rehearsal. Between the vocal training, getting the songs down, the pre-records, dancing and singing on the same days, having enough time to stretch, there was no time for anything else. I’ve never stretched more than I have for this. And yet I’m no more limber than when I started.”
He said working with Reynolds helped him through long days on set.
“We really hit the ground running,” he said. “The first day on set, we looked at each other and thought: Well, too late to turn back now. It was really thrilling each time we reached the top of a mountain — only to have to climb another mountain the next week.”
Reynolds said, in the press release, that doing a musical might not have worked at other parts of his career — but this was the time.
"I wanted to do something that was totally outside my comfort zone and this most definitely is," he said. "I live in mild to outrageous awe of Will. Working with one of my comedy idols has been pretty amazing."
"Spirited" will hit theaters on Nov. 11 and will start streaming on Apple TV on Nov. 18.
Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell star in terrible Christmas musical, ‘Spirited’
“Spirited” teaches us that the best way for a man to deflect the preachy instructions from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future is to become bros with the gentlemen ghouls and have sex with the lady apparitions.
The film rehashes the Dickens “A Christmas Carol” plot, with the devious, conflict-stoking media consultant Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds, really stretching his wings by playing a smarmy know-it-all) the target of the haunting. Clint’s sins include stoking a lot of bad tweets, mistreating his family and wearing tight double-breasted suits.
In this telling, targets for redemption are scouted by a whole team of “support ghosts.” The strangest thing about the film is that these spirits have to go on working full time even after they die, trying to help save the souls of the living. Jacob Marley (Patrick Page) runs the operation and oversees the highly successful Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Will Ferrell. The actor obviously wishes to recapture the holiday magic of “Elf,” just as Mariah Carey dreams of another “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But this ain’t it.
We learn Present is actually a ghostly version of Ebenezer Scrooge, and two seconds into a flashback with Ferrell doing a hammy version of the old curmudgeon, we realize a straight retelling of “A Christmas Carol” was the way to go. Ferrell is caught between being old enough to play Ebenezer while maintaining his veneer of adolescent jocularity.
Clint must be saved because, morally speaking, he’s exploiting his close confidante at work, Kimberly (Octavia Spencer), and his niece, Wren (Marlow Barkley). The latter wants to win a middle school class election, so Clint makes Kimberly research her opponent — even 13-year-olds can be canceled for problematic social media posts.
Clint tries to game the ghosts when they come to haunt him. The first visitor growls at Clint, “Feel my chain!” and he replies, “Eww, can I not?” That’s the level of writing we’re dealing with in “Spirited.” Then he bonks Bonnie, the Ghost of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani) as she purrs, “It’s been a long time since someone’s been up in my beeswax.” Finally, he simply runs away from Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (a CGI creation voiced by Tracy Morgan).
When Present appears to get Clint’s redemption back on track, he bemoans the fact that “your haunt got off to a bit of a humpy start,” while Clint mocks the validity of the whole exercise. After fake-crying during a visit to a childhood memory involving a lost puppy, Clint calls all of Present’s stage plays “re-encrapments.”
For whatever reason, the lads eventually find themselves back to Dickensian London for broad British accents and a tap-dancing number that is the (not very) high point in the film.
By the way: this is a musical! But songs are terrible and have titles like “Am I Forever Unredeemable?” For Reynolds especially, having a voice actor do the singing would have been advisable. In a thin falsetto, he asks Present the big questions such as, “Is humanity getting any man-kinder?” Groaners such as these are as omnipresent as the holiday cheer.
Director Sean Anders makes many raunchy revisions to the Dickens classic — but if you want to see Reynolds get his crotch grabbed by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, this is your film. While Anders and co-writer John Morris aren’t putting a scare into Irving Berlin with their tepid songbook, they might have at least spared us the film’s lengthy denouement, where a stack of narrative absurdities push the run time over two hours.
But “Spirited” didn’t have to be any great shakes to beat the yuletide competition — if you place it on the sliding scale of treacly 2022 holiday films, you’ll scroll past worst options. Just judge it against “A Royal Corgi Christmas.”
“Spirited” is showing at the Prime Cinemas Sonoma and streaming on Apple TV. Rated PG-13. Running time 2:07. Visit www.prime-cinemas.com or tv.apple.com.
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Like many onscreen Scrooges before him, Ryan Reynolds’ character in “Spirited” is told that he will face his past, present and future. But he surprises even the spirit haunting him upon raising his hand and asking: “Like ‘A Christmas Carol’? The Dickens story? The Bill Murray movie with Bobcat Goldthwait?”
“Yes, yes!” he is told. “Like the Dickens book, and the Bill Murray movie, and every other adaptation nobody asked for!”
This irreverent humor is part of what makes “Spirited” — now playing in select theaters and streaming beginning Nov. 18 on Apple TV+ — a Christmas miracle in itself. With some strategic reframing, updated characters and many weeks of dance rehearsals, “Spirited” refreshes Hollywood’s most overtold , and arguably outdated, morality tale as a topical musical comedy that manages to be astute about our divided culture without losing the source material’s streak of sincerity.
From the opening frames, “Spirited” stands out from other clever retreads of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella by zooming in on its three ghosts. “Scrooge is always the one with the character arc, but the ghosts are the masterminds of the mission to transform him,” says director Sean Anders.
Review: Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds bring holiday bromance to musical-comedy ‘Spirited’
Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell and Octavia Spencer team up for “Spirited,” a flashy musical-comedy-fantasy update of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Nov. 10, 2022
“A few years ago, my writing partner, John Morris, and I started talking about what the planning of the whole thing must be like — they can’t just show up on the day and haunt him, they have to go through his entire life and decide what they’re going to show him, right?”
“Spirited” envisions the overnight operation as an elaborate, yearlong endeavor: carefully choosing someone to transform, meticulously re-creating key moments in that person’s life, painstakingly rehearsing monologues to inspire major changes. And the three ghosts — Christmas Past (Sunita Mani), Present (Will Ferrell) and Yet-to-Come (voiced by Tracy Morgan) — are power players in a massive corporation, complete with retirement planning and a human resources department.
“This story has been done a lot, but the concept of looking at it from the inside, of how the sausage is made, was the reason to do it,” Ferrell tells The Times. “It takes some chances and is out-of-the-box in terms of what you expect it’s going to be because it also looks at the burden of the ghosts, and whether or not what they’ve been doing for centuries is even moving the needle in today’s world.”
Ferrell’s Christmas Present wrestles with that question while trying to redeem this year’s Scrooge: Clint Briggs (Reynolds), a ruthless media consultant whose job is described as “creating controversy, conflict and disinformation for the benefit of his clients worldwide.” According to Anders, he’s “very charismatic and a pretty fun guy to be around,” but he might be more harmful to society than the classic’s grouchy miser, not to mention more relatable to the movie’s modern viewers.
“What’s made Clint Briggs this year’s Scrooge isn’t just that he’s an active Twitter user — although that does qualify you enough in and of itself — but that he’s harnessing these forces to create controversy and division,” Reynolds says. “I am somebody who lives in the muck and mire of social media from time to time, and I see how absurd and crazy and toxic it can be. ... We’re just constantly pushing farther and farther away from each other.”
The timing of the film’s release, coming in the same week as Twitter’s rapid unraveling under new Chief Executive Elon Musk , underscores its allusions to culture wars, fake news and trolls, though here the truth is softened by the conventions of the movie musical — something Anders and Morris have been wanting to make for years.
The songs, written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, along with Khiyon Hursey, Sukari Jones and Mark Sonnenblick, are insightful about what Paul calls “the main question of the story, which is: Am I able to overcome the worst parts of me to become a better version of myself?” But they are also jam-packed with punchlines and undercut by onscreen eye-rolling about the fact that, yes, someone is starting to sing again.
When Clint is introduced — at a conference of Christmas tree growers, natch — Reynolds channels the charm of Fred Astaire in an elaborate, super-smooth musical number about the exploitability of human nature. “We leaned into that which is Ryan Reynolds — charming, good looking, a consummate storyteller,” says choreographer Chloe Arnold. “It’s so fun to watch, but it’s also to illustrate how Clint is this master manipulator.”
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Adding to that message is Octavia Spencer as Kimberly, a character who, though she works for Clint as Bob Crachit does Scrooge, sends a very different message by beginning to confront her own compromised morals. “She sings about that moment when you’re thinking about who you’ve been and who you want to be and how those two versions of yourself conflict, and questioning whether the decisions you’ve made are ones that reflect your values,” says Spencer.
But of all the changes to “A Christmas Carol” that “Spirited” makes, the most astounding is its conclusion, which goes against the ending of its source material. You’ll have to see the film to know how it goes down, but needless to say this Scrooge doesn’t end up throwing money to the masses on Christmas morning.
“I’ve been a huge fan of the original ‘Christmas Carol’ my whole life, and we have fun with all the tropes,” Anders says. “But one reason I wanted to make this movie is that I don’t think people can change overnight. It just doesn’t happen that way; it takes work.”
Rated: PG-13, for language, some suggestive material and thematic elements. Running time: 2 hours, 7 minutes Playing: Starts Nov. 11, Regency Bruin Theatre, Westwood and Regal LA Live, downtown Los Angeles; available Nov. 18 on Apple TV+
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Ashley Lee is a staff reporter at the Los Angeles Times, where she writes about theater, movies, television and the bustling intersection of the stage and the screen. An alum of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critics Institute and Poynter’s Power of Diverse Voices, she leads workshops on arts journalism at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. She was previously a New York-based editor at the Hollywood Reporter and has written for the Washington Post, Backstage and American Theatre, among others. She is currently working remotely alongside her dog, Oliver.
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'Spirited': 10 Easter Eggs In The New 'A Christmas Carol' Adaption
Find all the fun hidden details in AppleTV+'s latest Christmas special.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Octavia Spencer, Tracy Morgan , and king of Christmas classics Will Ferrell, the Christmastime musical comedy Spirited is a new take on A Christmas Carol when the man whose life is in question turns the table on his Ghost of Christmas Present and winds up giving him some much-needed motivation.
RELATED: How to Watch 'Spirited' Starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell
With a star-studded cast and crew taking on an iconic Charles Dickens story, the film leaves room for plenty of unexpected Easter eggs involving the original story, some familiar characters, and a hard-to-miss cameo from a Christmastime legend.
At the end of the film, when the Ghost of Christmas Present and his wife Kimberly are seen at their new house with their two kids, they live at house number 15, while a plaque is shown that has the number 1843 to indicate the year the house was built.
As random as the number may seem, it was used as an Easter egg for the film's inspiration, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, published in 1843.
Dame Judi Dench
During the fan-favorite number "Good Afternoon," Reynolds' Clint and Ferrell's Present sing about how the greeting "good afternoon" was equal to an F-you back in Ebenezer Scrooge's day. But it's not until mid-song when the lyric, “Deplore them with decorum like you’re Judi bloody Dench,” is sung by Dame Judi Dench herself.
Clint and Reynolds both stop the song to remark, "Was that Judi Dench?!" to further elaborate on the British actress' unexpected cameo as she disappears off-screen.
Ferrell, Anders, and Morris Reunite
Spirited not only stars Will Ferrell as another memorable Christmas character but film duo Sean Anders and John Morris created it. But what some may not know is that this isn't the first collaboration between the three notable names.
This film marks the third time Ferrell has worked with Anders and Morris, the first two being 2015's Daddy's Home and its sequel Daddy's Home 2.
The film kicks off with a woman facing the Ghost of Christmas Future as she sinks into her own grave before waking up on Christmas morning as a brand-new person, willing to play with the neighborhood kids in the show rather than stealing their balls.
RELATED: Ryan Reynolds Talks 'Spirited,' Working With Will Ferrell and Middle-Aged Dad Ballads
The audience finds out later in the scene that this woman referred to as Ms. Blan, is actually named Karen, revealing she is indeed a "Karen."
The Bus Lyrics
The second to last musical number of the movie is "Do A Little Good," during which Clint and Present perform together in the middle of a New York City street in front of a paused bus and surrounded by bustling New Yorkers who join them in singing and dancing.
If you look closely behind Clint and Present as they perform in front of the bus, rather than the digital sign on the front of the bus reading its location, as the number progresses, it begins reading lyrics to the song they're singing.
Patrick Page's 'A Christmas Carol' Return
In Spirited, actor Patrick Page plays the head of the ghost performers, Jacob Marley. But Page's appearance in this film may just be an Easter egg of its own.
In 2020, Page played Mr. Merdle in Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol with a Twist, making Spirited the second A Christmas Carol adaption for the actor to star in.
Tracy Morgan's Reveal
Throughout the film, rather than putting a face to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, it's Tracy Morgan who gives the character a voice while his face remains hidden under his dark hood, portrayed by Loren G. Woods.
It's not until the very end of the film, during the end credits' musical number "That Christmas Morning Feelin'," that Morgan's face is finally seen, alongside the one of Woods, both dressed in Yet To Come's ominous garb.
Roberto C. Fishman Pratt
When Present accidentally reveals his ghostly self to Clint's co-worker Kimberly, and she asks his name, he rattles off that it's Roberto C. Fishman Pratt.
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Not only is the name Roberto C. Fishman Pratt an Easter egg from Sean Anders' film Instant Family, but the actor who plays Roberto in that film, Jonathan Kobs, plays the cab driver in Spirited.
Not only do the characters come across the fictional Wickfield Plaza Hotel in New York City during the film, but they also run amuck in another fictional hotel called The Copperfield.
Calling the hotel "The Copperfield" was a clear nod to David Copperfield, another notable novel by A Christmas Carol author Charles Dickens.
Buddy The Elf's Cameo
Possibly the best Easter egg in the entire film is when Clint and Present arrive at Clint's Christmas costume party full of people dressed as various Christmastime characters like Heat Miser, Rudolph, and pink bunny pajamas like in A Christmas Story.
But the winning costume goes to the guy dressed as Buddy from Elf, who was memorably played by Present's portrayer Will Ferrell. In the scene, Present accidentally bumps into Buddy, apologizing before saying he looks stupid.
KEEP READING : Will Ferrell on What Drew Him to 'Spirited' 20 Years After Making 'Elf'
How Spirited Continues a Long Legacy of Christmas Carol Adaptations
C lint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds) is a media consultant who sells the public whatever image his client wants, unbothered by the pesky truth. He’s also being haunted by a series of ghosts—and he’s not having it. Mid-haunting, he interrupts the floating corpse of Jacob Marley (Patrick Page).
“I’m so sorry,” Briggs interjects. “I’m stuck on the first thing there—you said past, present, future—like A Christmas Carol , the Dickens story? The Bill Murray movie with Bobcat Goldthwait?”
“Yes, yes, like the Dickens book and the Bill Murray movie,” Marley replies with frustration. “And every other adaptation nobody asked for!”
This self-referential bit comes from Spirited —a musical comedy starring Reynolds, Page, Will Ferrell, Octavia Spencer, and Sunita Mani—which has its Apple TV+ streaming release on Nov. 18. It is the umpteenth retelling of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol , a timeless story that has evolved through the centuries. This time, though, the classic tale is told from the perspectives of the ghosts, who select one corrupt soul to reform each year.
Read more: The Real Reason Charles Dickens Wrote A Christmas Carol
And the new movie musical is in good company: The Internet Movie Database lists more than 100 versions of A Christmas Carol , including a video game. Episodes of more than 20 TV shows have been inspired by the novella, and four opera and two ballet versions of the story exist. No fewer than three adaptations are due this season alone; in addition to Spirited , Netflix has an animated version voiced by Olivia Colman and Luke Evans due Dec. 2, and a version will be staged on Broadway beginning Nov. 21 with more than 50 roles played by actor Jefferson Mays.
A Christmas Carol has spawned countless iterations—perhaps because of its bent for redemption and faith in humanity. While the original is firmly rooted in the mid-19th century, its themes translate all too well into the modern day.
How Spirited channels A Christmas Carol
“It is not surprising that A Christmas Carol continues to catch the hearts of cultures founded on and unsettled by socio-economic inequality,” Tim Carens , the director of British Studies at the College of Charleston, told English department blog Folio in 2018.
“It is a melodramatic morality tale made for communities that can neither justify nor condemn the process through which a small minority extracts vast wealth from the labor of the many,” Carens continued. “Melodramas achieve catharsis by polarizing good and evil.”
In Spirited , that small minority is represented by the Briggs Media Group, which specializes in exploiting human laziness and desperation to sell products, images, candidates—you name it. The many, in one early scene, are depicted by the National Association of Christmas Tree Growers, struggling against the rise of artificial Christmas trees and same-day shipping.
Briggs takes the stage at a Christmas tree convention to con the trade group members into buying his exorbitant services—and manipulating their customers. “Every Facebook-loving Boomer wants to fight a culture war,” Briggs sings. “So tell your core consumer what the hell they’re fighting for: A fight for morality.”
In Briggs, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) finds his perfect Scrooge, a symbol of contemporary apathy, narcissism, individualism, and capitalism. The media consultant is an “unredeemable,” collectively deemed by the other ghosts as too far gone to be saved, but the Ghost of Christmas Present is determined.
What makes A Christmas Carol work
The themes and framework of A Christmas Carol fit neatly into the 21st century—as they have since the publication. Originally published on December 19, 1843, the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve. Since then, it has never gone out of print—largely because its examination of the haves versus the have nots has never become irrelevant.
Laurie Langbauer , a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, teaches the novella to her students.
“It’s persisted because it’s just such a good story by an excellent writer,” Langbauer told The Well. “Dickens was trying to capture quintessential questions about human fellowship that we’re still concerned with now.”
While the appetite for stories about humanity persists, so too will an audience for ghost stories. The Victorians associated Christmas, one of the longest nights of the year, with darkness and ghosts—which lent itself to magic and fairy tales.
Read more: How Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Changed the Way the Holiday Is Celebrated
“He caught that almost crystalline structure of the fairy tale that makes it easy to grasp,” Langbauer said of Dickens. “But infinitely malleable and important for what it captures about psychology as well as culture.”
For Langbauer, the je ne sais quoi of A Christmas Carol lies in the fact that—in the world Dickens builds—redemption remains possible for everyone. If even the most miserly, miserable of characters has the potential for change, then so too does the reader.
“We know that things will work out from the beginning with a narrator who’s genial, really avuncular, a kind of expansive narrator who makes jokes and has a worldview that tells us this is a world in which people are sometimes not kind, but kindness is still the most important thing,” Langbauer said. “People want to continue to believe that they live in that kind of world, especially during the dark days each year.”
Other notable versions of A Christmas Carol
For 179 years now, A Christmas Carol has captivated the public: Upon publishing, it was widely plagiarized in print, which embroiled Dickens in a long-drawn legal battle. Almost immediately, too, the story was adapted into unauthorized stage productions.
The simple structure of the narrative allowed for it to be adapted endlessly—including onstage. Ray Dooley, a professor emeritus of acting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has performed multiple times in theatrical versions of the story. (Dickens himself staged more than 150 performances of the text.)
“You can paint the house any color you want, but the house is always going to be there,” Dooley said . “You can do most anything with it, and the foundation will support you, and result in some delightful alternatives.”
Centuries later, many may not have actually read the original text itself—but they very well may have seen the 1988 film Scrooged with Bill Murray, or The Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992, or Home Alone , in which a Scrooge figure (Old Man Marley) has a change of heart inspired by a young boy in danger (Kevin)—not unlike Tiny Tim.
“ How The Grinch Stole Christmas is just a ‘Seussified’ version of the tale featuring an embittered, exploitative old man who undergoes an epiphany,” said Carens. “Learning the ‘true spirit’ of Christmas and embracing its ethos of giving rather than grasping.”
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