SPIRITED*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film opens in a cemetery. The Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come (Tracy Morgan) stands before a woman, Karen Blansky (Rose Byrne), who, before meeting the ghosts, was bitter and nasty to her neighbors. As she realizes her eventual fate, Karen vows to change for the better as she sinks into her own grave. But a voice, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) assures the viewers she will be okay.
The ghosts operate in a realm where they haunt mean and miserable people to rehabilitate them the same way they did with Ebenezer Scrooge. Karen wakes up on Christmas Day and is greeted by the neighbor kids. Karen renounces her mean ways and joins the kids in playing outside. The other ghosts, including Bonnie the Ghost of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani) and Jacob Marley (Patrick Page) come to greet Karen and congratulate her for her rehabilitation. The ghosts then return to their jobs and sing a song about doing good in the world (“That Christmas Mornin’ Feeling”).
Although Present enjoys his job, he has been at it for over 200 years since his death in the real world. He has been up for retirement for a long time, but he stays with his job, wondering if there is more to his life than this (“Present’s Lament”).
Jacob gathers the ghosts around as they prepare for their next target, a rotten hotel manager named Mr. Alteli (PJ Byrne). The ghosts arrive at the hotel and witness him berating a janitor. However, Present is drawn to Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), a fast-talking CEO of his own company. The ghosts follow Clint as he gives a presentation to an audience who is already booing him. Clint talks about supporting real grown trees as opposed to fake fir ones, vowing to keep a “real” feeling to Christmas (“Bringing Back Christmas”). Present is wowed by Clint’s ability to reel in the crowd, and he decides he wants to rehabilitate him.
The ghosts meet with Jacob, who refuses to allow Present to take Clint on as his subject, as Clint’s file is stamped as “unredeemable”. Present then gives Jacob an ultimatum – allow him to help Clint, or he will take his retirement package immediately, shocking everyone else. Although Jacob thinks Present is bluffing, he gives in and lets the ghosts go ahead with Clint. They spend the next year researching Clint‘s past and present, learning that he has a younger brother, Owen (Joe Tippett), who is taking care of their niece Wren (Marlow Barkley) since their older sister Carrie (Andrea Anders) passed away years ago. Clint’s whole philosophy is that he believes people cannot change.
Just before Christmas, Owen and Wren visit Clint at his job because Wren is running for student council president and wants Clint’s advice. Present stands by as he witnesses the scene. Clint advises Wren to tank her grades to be a “woman of the people” and to get dirt on her opponent, Josh Hubbins (Maximilian Piazza), who is said to actually be a nice boy. Clint has his assistant Kimberly Parks (Octavia Spencer) do opposition research on Josh, and she finds an old TikTok video of Josh complaining about his parents making him share meals with the homeless (his parents run a charity for the homeless). However, Kimberly feels conflicted about trying to ruin a kid’s life, and she expresses her desire to quit her job since she feels wrong about it (“The View From Here”). Present becomes smitten with Kimberly and accidentally gets her to see him when he speaks to her. He tries to save face and simply says he is there on a job to help Clint, but Kimberly laughs and doesn’t believe someone like Clint can be helped. She then reluctantly goes to tell Clint and Wren about Josh’s video so Wren can use it against him.
Clint throws a party on Christmas Eve. The ghosts get ready for their haunt. Jacob comes out as his old decrepit self to tell Clint about what he is to expect, but Clint doesn’t let him finish his song since he keeps asking too many questions. Bonnie is up first, taking Clint to his childhood home, but they are attracted to one another and end up sleeping together.
Present jumps in and begins to guide Clint through his past to see where his nasty streak began. They see a flashback of a Christmas from Clint’s childhood, where his alcoholic mother Wendy (Jen Tullock) got him a puppy bowl to make him believe that he was getting a dog for Christmas and that it ended up running away because the back door was open. Carrie knew the truth since their mom was rotten, but little Clint went out to look for the dog. Adult Clint tells Present that it was better for him to believe that there was a dog instead of accepting that his mother lied, because people will believe whatever makes them happy.
Present then attempts to take Clint further into his past as an adult, where he began working on his business and started a relationship with a coworker named Nora (Aimee Carrero). Things got ugly when Clint met his siblings and mother at the mall, with Wendy already having a sour relationship with Nora. When Carrie announced she was pregnant with Wren, Clint told her that she would not be ready to have a child and would be an unfit mother. Nora, fed up with Clint’s inability to support others, leaves him. Another memory shows Clint working on a campaign for a politician and using dirty tactics against the opposing candidate, ruining the woman’s life. After getting fired, Clint vowed to ruin his boss’s company by taking his clients, along with Kimberly. Present notes that Clint succeeded in destroying the business of a genuinely honest man.
Clint remains unmoved, so Present resorts to a stronger memory – the last time that Clint saw Carrie as she was dying from cancer. He brought a present for Wren but she decided to donate it to more needy kids. Before Carrie can ask Clint for a huge favor, his present self starts running away.
Present then decides to show Clint the last Unredeemable that the ghosts had to deal with. They go to an old 1800’s town in London, revealing that Present was the Unredeemable, as in his past life, he was none other than Ebenezer Scrooge himself. He overhears residents get offended when Scrooge says “good afternoon”, as this is the equivalent of an “f you”. Clint encourages Present to let himself vent over his personal frustrations (“Good Afternoon”), which works until Jacob arrives and sends Clint back to his bedroom while he admonishes Present for showing Clint his own personal memories.
Clint wakes up back in his apartment for his party. He is drawn to a light where Present appears as his classic “Christmas Carol” self. He tells Clint how he wants to return to Earth as a mortal for his retirement package. Present then shows Clint the party going on while he’s not there. His employees talk bad about him until Owen speaks up for his brother. Present even shows Clint how Nora is doing well with her own family, and how that could have been him. However, Clint knows Present likes Kimberly and shows him a vision of how he wants this life with her. Present also shows Wren going ice-skating with Owen, just as Josh is helping out his parents at the soup kitchen (“The Story of Your Life”). When Josh posts a picture his dad took of him there to gain some votes, Wren posts his old TikTok, quickly causing students to turn on Josh and call him a phony.
When Clint speaks up about the Josh situation, Present sees it as an opportunity to take him back to the hospital memory, which Clint cannot escape from. He is forced to watch himself be asked by Carrie to look after Wren when she is gone, but Clint weaseled his way out of it and dumped the responsibility onto Owen, who was more than happy to do anything for their sister. Clint accepts that he needed to see it, and Present prepares him to meet with Yet-To-Come, but Jacob shows up to get Present. Before he can use his magic to send them back to their homes, Clint holds Present back since he wants him to confront his own issue, which is that he isn’t sure if he is completely redeemable. This leads to Present having a moment of self-reflection (“Unredeemable”), and he chooses now to be the time to take his retirement, with everyone in the other realm watching and cheering him on.
Clint and Present wake up in Clint’s room, as Present is now mortal again. He joins the party and has issues readjusting himself to being mortal. Present goes to spend time with Kimberly, where they go out for a walk and share a kiss (“The View From Here Reprise”). Meanwhile, Clint is forced to go with Yet-To-Come, who shows him a vision of Wren having won the student council position, but as she is giving a speech, all the other kids’ phones, including hers, are hit with notifications. It turns out that Josh was bullied to the point of suicide because of the TikTok video, which people blame on Wren. Clint is horrified at this outcome and begs the spirit to change this outcome. He witnesses his old self dying alone of a heart attack and is taken to his graveyard, where he is met by Bonnie and Yet-To-Come. The latter spirit is finally able to speak (he is only ever able to point) and expresses anger at Clint for convincing Present to retire, and he throws him back into his apartment.
Clint catches up with Present as they head to find Wren and stop her from posting the TikTok. Present is also lamenting the fact that even though he is happy with Kimberly, he still cannot shake the feeling that he made a mistake in retiring. The two make it to the rooftop skating rink where they see Wren looking like she is going to post the video, but Kimberly comes in and tells the guys that she spoke to Wren and told her that her actions have consequences, so she chose not to post it. Present thinks that Clint should be redeemed now, but time hasn’t stopped, leading both to believe that maybe some people really just cannot change. Present runs back into the street to try and get hit by a bus to meet with the spirits and talk to them, but Clint pushes him out of the way. NOW time stands still, with all the other spirits coming out to congratulate Clint, as his heroic sacrifice has earned him his redemption. After another happy musical number, time unfreezes…and Clint really does get hit by the bus. Clint is now a spirit, and Jacob tells him that in order for his sacrifice to have meaning, he must accept the consequences. While Clint is sad that he can no longer see Owen and Wren, he is greeted by Carrie’s spirit, who is proud of her little brother for his sacrifice. She guides him back through the realm.
A few years pass, and Clint has taken on the role of Ghost of Christmas Present, where he works with Carrie and is in a relationship with Bonnie. He visits Present and Kimberly, who are now married with two kids, all of whom can see Clint. He is also informed that Wren is getting into her dream college. Clint then joins Present in a reprise of “That Christmas Mornin’ Feeling” with the whole cast.
After the credits, Mr. Alteli is shown to still be a jerk, so the spirits begin his haunting by making an object near him move and shake. He then faints.
The spirits from "A Christmas Carol" work together every holiday season to find a rotten person and convince them to change their ways, much like Ebenezer Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas Present picks Clint Briggs, a smug CEO who believes people are incapable of changing. Although Jacob Marley deems Clint an "Unredeemable", Present convinces him, plus the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Yet-To-Come to take Clint on. Just before Christmas, Clint convinces his beleaguered assistant Kimberly to dig up dirt on a kid named Josh, who is running against Clint's niece Wren for student council.
Present bonds with Clint and takes him through his past, which shows that he was close to his older sister Carrie, who tragically passed away from cancer and left Wren in the care of their brother Owen because Clint didn't want to take on the responsibility. Present also reveals that in his past, he was none other than Scrooge himself, the last major Unredeemable. Present wishes to retire and become mortal again now that he has fallen for Kimberly due to seeing her as a genuinely kind person. After Clint starts to soften up, he convinces Present to retire.
When Clint is shown that Josh commits suicide from bullying after Wren posts a TikTok video of Josh to make him look bad, he begins to want to sincerely change. Meanwhile, Present feels that he isn't fully worth redeeming, but he changes his mind after he and Clint run to stop Wren from posting the video. Present doesn't think Clint is redeemed because he isn't visited by the other spirits, so he steps in front of a bus to try and return to the other realm, but Clint pushes him out of the way. This does earn Clint his redemption, but at the cost of his own life. However, Clint reunites with Carrie in the afterlife.
Clint becomes the new Ghost of Christmas Present, working with Carrie and being in a relationship with Past/Bonnie. Present and Kimberly get married with kids, and they still communicate with Clint during the holidays.