Will Ferrell deserves our everlasting thanks for refusing to make an “Elf” sequel.

The “Saturday Night Live” alum squanders a few of that goodwill with “Spirited,” a Christmas musical pining to be the subsequent yuletide staple.

Nothing doing.

While “Elf” embraced timeless trappings, “Spirited” goes for right this moment’s popular culture jugular. Give it just a few years, and lots of references will likely be dated, or worse.

The greatest Christmas films are gentle on their ft and share important truths. “Spirited” is so busy, so frantic to be all issues to all viewers that it finally ends up leaving everybody behind.

Ferrell stars as Present, as within the Ghost of Christmas Present. Yes, “Spirited” is one other spin on “A Christmas Carol,” however it makes use of that template as the place to begin for a soul reclamation mission.

Present and his military of ghosts decide individuals who have to be “redeemed,” after which scare them straight. They’re aided by a boney-fingered Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come (Tracy Morgan, in a uncommon, laugh-free position for the comedian veteran).

Present is mulling retirement because the story opens, however he lucks upon a soul who actually, deeply wants redemption. Ryan Reynolds performs Clint, a advisor with charisma to burn however few morals to maintain his abilities in verify.

He’ll do no matter it takes to get forward in enterprise. Kind of like Hollywood behind the scenes!

Most Christmas films are applicable for all ages, with just a few leaning arduous into their R-rated glee (“Bad Santa,” “Fatman,” the upcoming “Violent Night”). “Spirited” principally falls within the former camp … besides when it doesn’t.

A number of curse phrases might simply to snipped with out dropping something, and co-star Sunita Mani because the Ghost of Christmas Past is, effectively, perpetually attractive.

“Spirited” is determined for snort strains, and it’ll take ’em wherever it might.

The movie’s musical numbers are plentiful, and most are adequate to maintain our curiosity courtesy of the workforce behind “The Greatest Showman” – Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Who knew Reynolds might sing and dance? Ferrell isn’t as nimble and his voice a bit skinny for this affair, however neither is a stumbling block given his comedian chops.

Ferrell stays an underrated expertise regardless of his A-list model.

Possibly the most important shock with “Spirited?” It seems low-cost, from the bargain-bin CGI to lighting that provides off a dwell TV really feel the place corners should be understandably lower.

Another burden?

Ferrell and Reynolds convey completely different comedian kinds to the mission. Ferrell is the man-child, the clownish determine with a deep reservoir of innocence to energy the comedy.

Reynolds is all curdled cynicism, a snarky fellow all the time prepared with a quip.

Both modes work splendidly with their solo tasks. Here? They contribute to the movie’s meandering tone. It’s romantic at instances, soulful for stretches, then brimming with meta gags.

The movie’s two-hour operating time permits for loads of subplots and characters, however there’s not often room for “Spirited” to breathe. Present’s shy romance with Octavia Spencer gives simply such a respite, however it’s not fleshed out sufficient to matter.

Both stars deserve higher.

One sequence provides Ferrell a fish-out-of-water expertise, and darned if “Spirited” isn’t attempting to ape Buddy’s New York City sequences in “Elf.” The second caps with an Easter egg visible tied to the 2002 traditional.

The much less “Spirited” viewers are reminded of that beloved movie, the higher.

HiT or Miss: “Spirited” gives sporadic laughs, some sport musical numbers and the sense that making a seasonal traditional is way tougher than it seems.

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