Spirited is a modern version of the classic Charles Dickens’ tale A Christmas Carol, but with a twist. Every year a new terrible person is chosen to be saved, and this year ‘The Ghost of Christmas Present’, aka Roberto (Will Ferrell), chooses ruthless businessman Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds). The other ghosts consider Clint ‘irredeemable’. But Present, a redeemed Scrooge himself, sees this as a personal challenge because he was also considered irredeemable.
‘The Ghost of Christmas Past’ (Sunita Mani) is the first to visit Clint but she finds herself strongly attracted to him and so passes the job on to Present. Present takes Clint on a harrowing journey of his past. During the journey, his dying sister, Carrie (Andrea Anders), begs him to look after her daughter Wren (Marlow Barkley). Clint dodges the responsibility and passes it on to his younger brother. Meanwhile, Present finds himself attracted to Clint’s personal assistant, Kimberly (Octavia Spencer), and is given the option to return to Earth to relive his life. Together, Clint and Present confront ethical and moral problems about what makes a human being redeemable or not.
Spirited has some slapstick violence. This is meant to be funny. For example:
- Several characters get hit on the head and around the face.
- Present says, ‘It’s enough to make you want to push an old lady down the stairs’.
- Clint knocks a ghost down and falls down the stairs.
- A ghost hits a policeman.
- Clint and Present go flying up into the air and land heavily.
- ‘The Ghost of Yet-to-Come’ lifts Clint up and throws him into the air.
- Present is about to step in front of a bus when Clint pushes him out of the way. The ghosts come for Clint.
Spirited also has some other violence. For example:
- A boxing match is shown between 2 large men.
- A hand grenade explodes, knocking down a wall. People are running from it and a man is seen on fire.
- A young man commits suicide after being abused on social media. This isn’t actually shown but it is apparent.
Spirited has some sexual references. For example:
- Present longs for a loving embrace with ‘new-fangled mouth kisses’.
- Past thinks Clint is ‘insanely hot’. She wishes his hands were all over her.
- Clint flirts with Past who thinks he’s ‘really into her’.
- Carrie decides to have a baby on her own through IVF.
- Several couples kiss briefly.
- Present and Kimberly hold hands and kiss.
- Clint kisses Past.
- Ghosts dance and ‘twerk’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Spirited has some substance use. For example:
- Drinking at several events, in pubs at parties, etc.
- Clint’s mother is seen as a drunk. She always has a glass in her hand.
Nudity and sexual activity
Spirited has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, Present has a shower and is seen naked from the waist up.
The following products are displayed or used in Spirited: Amazon, Negroni, TikTok and Sephora.
Spirited has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Spirited is a musical comedy version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Some of the characters look very scary but the movie is tongue-in-cheek, so the fright level is low. However, there is sexual innuendo, a lot of coarse language and a scene which refers to a teen taking his own life after being abused on social media. For these reasons the film is not suitable for children aged under 10 years and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 10–13.
The main messages from Spirited are that one act of kindness can have a ripple effect, and that anyone can be redeemed.
Values in Spirited that you could reinforce with your children are self-examination, the ability to become a better person, compassion and kindness, and having the courage to stand up for what’s right.
Spirited could give you the chance to talk with your children about how you’re never too old (or young) to change from being a horrible person. You could also talk about the real-life dangers of social media and the dreadful consequences of making flippant and hurtful remarks about others.