Parents' Guide to

Spirited

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dickens musical comedy has sweet themes, cursing, slapstick.

Movie PG-13 2022 127 minutes
Spirited: Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 32 parent reviews

age 14+

Suicide, Bad Language but great music

DO NOT WATCH Spirited w your kids. I read reviews and I thought it would be ok as in similar to a superhero movie. It was not. Although my kids know and hear cuss words, this was BAD and excessive. Lots of sex innuendos and a middle school boy commits SUICIDE bc of cyber bullying in Christmas of the future. This is better suited for a middle school audience not a tween and younger siblings. I selected “too much violence” for this reason alone. Geared for teens and adults. Disappointed in the reviews bc they did not mention suicide as a topic. We would’ve waited to watch until after kids went to bed. One positive thing is the theme of redemption throughout the movie and the music was amazing. I could definitely see this being a Broadway play and it would be great, just leave the kids at home. We had high hopes for Will Farrell and Ryan Reynolds but were left underwhelmed and disappointed.
age 13+

PG-13, but can be made appropriate for younger kids!

**Warning - Spoiler Alerts I absolutely adore the premise and overarching message of redemption, making a choice every day to be a little better than the day before, having integrity, and even practicing social media etiquette. There are lots of themes here to spark meaningful discussions with kids, and all can be managed in an age-appropriate way (more on that to follow). I didn’t realize it was a musical before I watched it, but that made it even more captivating. The music and dancing are fantastic! In that regard, it reminded me a lot of the powerful performances in The Greatest Showman. I LOVE the spirit of this movie! That said, I will say there are a LOT of innuendos and instances of bad language. The innuendos would likely go over young kids’ heads, but the language really is a lot. Someone else posted that there were only a handful of swear words, but I counted at least 25, including such words as h**l, d**n, s**t, d**k (sometimes expanded to “Dickens,” with a pause in the middle), bas***d, b***h, and a**. Also, some words such as “sexy,” “piss,” and “s—k it,” which may be offensive to some. The characters use the phrase “good morning” to replace “f—- y—-,” but the explanation there only mentions the initial for the f-word, and not the entire word. One character makes a couple of inappropriate gestures with his hands. It was all too much for my own taste; I prefer not to have to hear or see this level of offensive behavior. If you have kids younger than 13, as I do, I recommend seeing it at home on AppleTV so you can mute and skip, and then preview it yourself before watching it with your kids. Don’t see it in the theater. Take notes with time stamps notated, so you’ll know when to mute and when to skip - you’re the best judge of what your kids should be watching. In this way, I was able to bring it to about a PG level so my 9yo could watch with the family. Honestly, this is how I prefer to watch it anyway, so I continue to do the mutes and skips even if I’m watching alone. I did make a note to pause the movie before it discusses cyberbullying and suicide, so I could talk about it with my kids in an age-appropriate way that made sense to them. To me, this is what PG (Parental Guidance) should be anyway - a time to discuss the themes and ensure that your child’s comprehension was accurate and adequate, and to give guidance on tougher topics. It’s important to note that the minor child’s suicide depicted in the movie was not shown onscreen or really discussed overtly; rather, it was implied. Additionally, context is important - this was something seen in a vision of Christmas Yet to Come, meaning it hadn’t actually happened, but was one possibility if circumstances remained unchanged. This sparked some main characters to make the necessary changes so they could avoid that outcome. While it may still be triggering for some, I think most kids need to have some understanding about these topics, what to do if they encounter cyberbullying, and how to get help, as well as how to ensure they are never responsible for posting hurtful or damaging things online. All very valuable lessons. There is a jarring scene at the end when a character sacrifices himself for another by pushing him out of the way of a bus, taking the full impact on himself instead. This could be considered a suicide that actually did happen, but it’s portrayed as a sacrifice for someone the character really cared about. The discomfort of the scene is replaced by joy and hope, and eventually resolves with humor and a great message. All in all, I love this movie, but I wish they would have left the language and some of the references out. It’s a great film with the edits I devised for my family, and I will continue to watch it that way. I highly recommend watching it with your own edits - it’s easily in my top five Christmas movies list!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (32 ):
Kids say (15 ):

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.

Movie Details

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