It’s been nearly two decades since Will Ferrell delivered Christmas joy in 2003’s Elf, and now he’s back with even more holiday spirit in Spirited, a new musical that began streaming on Apple TV+ today. So, obviously, the Spirited filmmakers had to sneak in an Elf reference.
Directed by Sean Anders, who also co-wrote the script with John Morris, Spirited is a modern-day spin on A Christmas Carol. Ferrell stars as the Ghost of Christmas Present, while Ryan Reynolds plays a cold-hearted man named Clint who needs to learn a Christmas-themed lesson. Ferrell and his co-workers—the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani) and Yet to Come (Tracy Morgan)—get to work on creating the perfect simulation to help Clint see the error of his ways.
Of course, nothing goes according to plan. After a series of shenanigans, Ferrell decides to try his hand at being a real-life corporeal person again. While he’d thus far been playing the Ghost of Christmas Present as a more reserved, more experienced version of Buddy the elf, when he gets his human body back, he goes full Elf-mode.
He runs around Ryan Reynolds’ fancy Manhattan apartment with wide-eyed glee, finding joy in the most mundane activities, like taking a shower. And just in case you weren’t sure if this hommage was intentional or not, the subtle Elf reference becomes an explicit Elf reference when Ferrell, high on his excitement, runs into a random stranger at a Christmas party… who just happens to be wearing an exact replica of Ferrell’s iconic Elf costume.
“Are you OK?” asks the costume wearer, donning that unmistakable green coat with the fur collar, and the distinctive yellow-striped pointed hat.
“I think so,” Ferrell responds. Then he looks the stranger up and down and declares, “You look stupid!”
“You look stupid!” the man immediately replies.
Reynolds steps in and diffuses the situation, and the moment is over just as quickly as it began. It’s simply a short and sweet wink to Ferrell’s iconic role, intended to make fans of Elf smile.
I don’t know about you, but this scene made me crave an Elf re-watch ASAP. Spirited is great, but, son of a nutcracker, nothing beats Will Ferrell as Buddy. And imagine a team-up between these two Ferrell characters—their Christmas cheer would be unstoppable.
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