A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No one is unredeemable: We all have goodness and decency inside of us somewhere. Your choices make you who you are, and you can choose to do good/be better every day. One person's act of good can create a ripple effect. A subplot addresses the dangers of misusing social media.
Positive Role Models
Jacob Marley's operation uses teamwork to save one soul per year. The Ghost of Christmas Present is perseverant in trying to get through to Clint and help him become a better person. Clint is funny, successful, charismatic, and, initially, quite mean, but the entire story is about people's ability to change. Kimberly is kind, and Owen is a loyal brother and uncle.
The two stars are White men, but there's lots of racial and gender representation in supporting and background roles. The story's two romantic leads are middle-aged, reflect body diversity, and are from different racial backgrounds. A Black woman is a talented corporate executive.
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Violence & Scariness
A vehicle strikes a person, but it's presented in a way that's more likely to inspire laughs than alarm. Slapstick humor, including falls, being lifted by the crotch, and literal slaps across the face. Some creepy images, but they're quickly shown to be theatrics. It's implied that a teen dies by suicide, and there are sad scenes involving a character with a terminal illness (which leads to parent/child separation).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirtation, kissing, innuendo.
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Frequent use of strong language, including "ass," "balls," "bitch," "crap," "dammit," "d--k," "diddle," "dumb," "piss," "pr--k," "screw it," "s--tty," "stupid," "suck it," and "what the hell." Middle-finger gesture. Lots of insults, like "dingus."
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Products & Purchases
Apple products. Product placement is winked at, with Sephora as the sponsor, although the store and its products aren't actually highlighted.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A negatively portrayed character is referred to as a drunk and is seen holding a glass, implying alcohol is in it. Jokes about a beer and an adult offering a child a Negroni.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spirited is a creative musical comedy based on Charles Dickens' classic holiday story A Christmas Carol. This take on the redemption tale flips the script on Marley & Co. by coming at the story from the ghosts' perspective. Although most of the humor is aimed at adults, many kids love stars Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, and there's a memorable subplot about a 12-year-old and the dangers of misusing social media. Other themes include teamwork and perseverance. Expect a few creepy moments with the ghosts (and the suggestion of a death by suicide), but given that it's all presented within the context that their appearance is an elaborate production, scares are quickly subdued. There's also plenty of slapstick humor, a bit of innuendo, and a wide assortment of saucy language and inventive insults, including "s--t," "diddling," "d--king," "dingus," and "pr--k") -- a 19th century putdown even gets its own hilarious song and dance number. A negatively portrayed character is referred to as a drunk and is seen holding a glass, with the implication that alcohol is in it. A romantic subplot involves kissing and flirting and features actors in their 50s, which automatically makes them nontraditional love interests. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For families looking to watch something together over the holidays, this musical comedy is a gift. Getting tweens and teens to watch ye olde A Christmas Carol (at least in its classic 1951 iteration) isn't always easy. But Charles Dickens knew what was what, and his story is one for the ages -- which is exactly why filmmakers try to reinvent it for modern audiences every few years. Spirited nails the 2020s, delivering on viewers' desire for fresh content with humor that skewers everything we hate about what we've become while giving us hope that we can be better. As Clint Briggs, Reynolds is delicious and vicious, embodying the way social media has molded many people into quippy, attractively filtered trolls slinging hot takes while watching the likes rack up. Ferrell's Ghost is, as ever, a goofy man-child whose vulnerability is always showing, allowing viewers to access their own self-doubts and acknowledge their own inner lives. And co-star Octavia Spencer represents the part of us that knows that, while our own road is paved with good intentions, perhaps we wander off of it sometimes, even if, if we're honest, we did know better.
Turning "a carol" into a musical makes good sense, at least for kids who expect a more literal payoff from the title. Of course, not everyone loves a musical, and those viewers are represented by boss Jacob Marley's (Patrick Page) recurring exasperation when the singing starts (it's not really productive, after all). But the lyrics in the original songs from Oscar- and Tony-winning tunesmiths Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman) are funny, meaningful, and sometimes poignant. Even with a too-long run time, Spirited offers a fun family holiday offering that even includes a few references to the reason for the season.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.