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Netflix ‘Christmas Carol’ Reboot ‘Spirited’ Misses Elon Musk’s Irony

It’s the season for capitalist traditions like Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday – and the world of entertainment isn’t far behind. “A Christmas Carol”, Charles Dickens’ most enduring story of the humanization of a greedy and evil businessman, is a popular tale for a corporate world, where the rich are redeemed by love . This Christmas, audiences have a choice of two versions, both of which debuted in theaters before moving to streaming a few days later. The Americanized “Spirited” is available on Apple TV+, while the British “Scrooge: A Christmas Carol” debuted on Netflix on Friday. But the insistence of both interpretations on preaching this age-old myth of the billionaire-turned-benefactor at a time when the news is full of stories to the contrary means that both musical adaptations hit the wrong key.

So many modern Christmas celebrations were established in Victorian times.

So many modern Christmas celebrations were established in Victorian times. Originally published in 1843, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was the equivalent of a bestseller at that time, with 13 editions published in the first year of printing alone. Historians say the story has been performed since at least 1844, with Dickens creating his own “public reading” show in 1853. (Public readings remain a tradition that continues to this day in the UK). in the cinema, and finally on television. It’s since been adapted in just about every way possible, from gothic horror to Muppets.

After countless adaptations, a synopsis seems pointless, but suffice it to say that a greedy and avaricious business owner, Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited on Christmas Eve by a series of specters who effectively frighten him to make him make better life choices. Dickens’ humanist story reinforced the idea of ​​the holiday season as a secular time of giving back that anyone can participate in, and its details became memetic shorthand. Ebenezer and Scrooge have come to portray a miser; ghosts of the past, present and future are guides to becoming a better person; a Bob Cratchit type is a good, loyal everyday guy; a Tiny Tim is shorthand for an innocent. The sentences “Bah smoker! and “Merry Christmas” have both been popularized by the story, as has “God bless us, everyone.”

The moral is accessible and the structure is simple enough that adaptations can easily incorporate the appropriate zeitgeist. American adaptations, for example, tend to focus more on Bob Cratchit and his family and rescuing Tiny Tim, and less on how Scrooge lost the love of his life to his capitalist greed. (“The Muppet’s Christmas Carol,” for example, cast perpetual hero Kermit T. Frog as Cratchit rather than Scrooge.) And that’s where our two new releases come in. In a year when it seems almost every monopolistic companies lay off workers, the cathartic reward of a hard-hearted billionaire has cultural meaning. But neither film even wants to admit that its cruel corporate czar is a bad person, as if the producers are worried about insulting the wealthy men who run their respective streaming services.

Of the two, “Scrooge: A Christmas Carol” is the most disappointing. This animated version features an incredible roster of voice talent: Luke Evans, Jessie Buckley, Olivia Colman, Jonathan Pryce and Johnny Flynn. The animation is vibrant, capturing the feel of old Claymation-style Christmas specials. And while some of the musical numbers sound too much like Disney knockoffs, others are quite emotional.

The problem is Scrooge. The movie wants him to be a good person deep down and keeps finding psychological excuses for his bad behavior. He’s not a miser because he loves money—he’s someone who grew up food insecure! He climbed the ladder on his own, but apparently it was fine that he pulled it behind him. His wealth will only flow! It may be a story that Liz Truss would like to see true, but it’s why her term as Prime Minister has been overtaken by lettuce.

Netflix 'Christmas Carol' Reboot 'Spirited' Misses Elon Musk's Irony

Like many American renditions, “Spirited” treats Scrooge as a means to an end and rushes with him almost immediately. An admittedly clever take on the story, which posits that his experience was not unique; the three Christmas ghosts (Sunita Mani, Will Ferrell, and Tracy Morgan) roam around in packs, beating up unsuspecting evil corporate fools to redeem themselves as a regular holiday gig. This year’s target, Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), is a social media influencer, who comes in singing that he’s a Christmas war profiteer. Soon, he and the ghost of present-day Ferrell are locked in a battle of wills, with the ghost determined to change Briggs, though Briggs sees no reason why he might need to change.

Ferrell and Reynolds are, as usual, a lot of fun to watch, which almost makes up for the awkwardness of the script or the terrible singers of some cast members. (There are times when it feels like this is a first look at a show that will need a nice long run off Broadway to work out the issues.) Ferrell also brings a good extra willpower after hitting hard in another Christmas myth-maker, “Elf.” But in an odd twist, “Spirited” also doesn’t prove that Briggs was ever totally cruel, or that he truly redeems himself. Instead, it’s the ghost whose perspective changes, admitting that his drive to change people comes from his own misfortune. It’s a bizarre and somewhat grotesque rewrite of the moral of the story; it’s “A Christmas Carol” seen through the prism of sideism.

“Scrooge”, thankfully, will be easily and quickly forgotten, replaced by an inevitable new animated version, while the unpolished nature of “Spirited” should relegate it to the dustier corners of the streaming universe. However, the entertainment world’s refusal to notice a societal shift is more troubling. Dickens’ story is timeless for a reason, and there should be room now to make a version that speaks to the current moment. Too bad none of them know how.

nbcnews Gt

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