Spirited is the hilarious (and heartfelt) new musical on Apple TV that puts a modern twist on A Christmas Carol. This high-energy film, starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, tackles the age-old question of whether people can really change, grow, and better themselves — not just temporarily, but permanently. The movie kicks off with the quote: “Do people really change? I mean, real, lasting, positive change? I sure hope so, because we are in the business of change.” Whether you’re a cynic like Clint or are more hopeful like Present, are some lessons from the film (with some slight spoilers, so make sure you watch before you read!):
You are not irredeemable or unlovable.
Your mistakes don’t define you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past as long as you are actively trying to be a better person in the present and future. Even though you might be weighed down by your regrets, you can move forward as a kinder, gentler person. You can redeem yourself and you are worthy of love. Stop punishing yourself for things that happened long ago, things that you can’t take back. You can’t control the past but you can control the present.
Your choices make you who you are.
When Present talks to Kimberly about quitting his job, he says, “Every year I’d say time to move on and every year I chose to stay. And our choices make us who we are, don’t they?” It’s tempting to continue doing things the way you’ve always done them because taking a leap into the unknown is scary. But you shouldn’t accept the way things are, simply because it’s the easier path. If you want change, be brave enough to chase after it. Otherwise, every year you’ll end up with the same regrets.
Your kindness can cause a ripple effect.
You never know how your kindness (or your cruelty) will impact others, which is why you should be careful with your words and your actions. One compliment could change the course of someone’s entire day, or it could inspire them to treat the people around them with more kindness, creating a ripple effect. If you’re going to make a change either way, it might as well be a positive one.
You have to choose to be good every single day.
Every single day you are met with a million different choices, a million little opportunities to be the type of person you wish you were. Deciding to do the right thing isn’t a one-time event, and change doesn’t happen overnight. Life is a lot more complex than that. You need to put real effort in if you really want to make a change. Like Clint says toward the end of the film, “Maybe there’s no quick fix. Maybe you gotta put in the work.”
Your future isn’t set in stone.
Just like the original Christmas Carol taught us, your future is never set in stone. It can change wildly, depending on how you choose to live your life. Check in with yourself every once in a while and make sure you’re making choices that you’re proud about, that you won’t look back on and regret when it’s time to reflect again.
Change is possible at any age.
The biggest takeaway from the film is that change is possible — but it’s hard and it’s scary. It takes courage. It takes work. It takes the desire to be different. Making even a small change won’t be easy when you’ve grown comfortable with the way things are, but the trouble will be worth it in the end. Just ask Clint.