This and That
Right Column Redux: Paul on Merv Griffin's Crosswords

Movie Review: Spirited

(length warning) I don’t know what kind of reviews you’ve been reading of this Netflix musical Christmas movie, but I think the film is terrific. If you live in the Bay Area, you may have been exposed to Mick Lasalle’s pan, which, while it isn’t the worst review ever, was about as negative as a one-star review gets (the little man was asleep in his chair; at least the chair wasn’t empty)

A word about LasSalle: a great writer (especially when writing about women in film) whose taste in movies is generally the same as mine. But this time he made a mistake.

Not about the length―127 minutes is more than a half-hour too long for a comedy. For any film, really.

And of course, there is the question, “Do we need yet another adaptation of A Christmas Carol?” Well, it turns out, the answer is yes, if it is cleverly written, well-acted and brilliantly staged (with, I’d say, an homage to Monty Python’s Christmas in Heaven, at least in costuming and production values).

I’m not going to give away any plot points. I’ll just tell you that it is a clever refresh of the old story, and you won’t see the ending coming until the halfway point.

The usual conditions apply: you need to like Ryan Reynolds (playing to type), Will Ferrell (not playing to type) and musicals. If you’re weak on any leg of this triad, this film is not for you.

I admit I am easily moved to tears, but parts of Spirited did exactly that. Plus, who doesn’t like an adaptation of Christmas Carol? It was, after all, the story that saved Christmas in the English-speaking world.  Prior to Charles Dickens’ fluffy novella Christmas was a minor holiday. Nothing closed, and celebrations were muted. Making Cratchett stay to work on Christmas wouldn’t have been all that unusual. It’s right up there with Silent Spring and Unsafe At Any Speed in terms of its societal impact, it not its importance.


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