Posted by: ckckred | December 15, 2012

Elf: A Cheerful Holiday Film

A funny exuberant movie that's always an essential watch during the Holidays

A funny film that’s always an essential watch during the Christmas season

There’s a sense of exuberance in Elf that makes it the best holiday movie of the past twenty years.  On the surface, Elf may look as superficial as some other Christmas movies like, say, How The Grinch Stole Christmas but it’s actually much more.  It’s a cheerful movie that’s not only very funny but also has its heart in the right place.  It also features one of Will Ferrell’s best roles.

Elf is the story of an orphan baby who accidently enters Santa’s (Ed Asner) bag on Christmas Eve and is sent up to the North Pole.  When he is discovered, Santa decides it’s best for the boy to stay in his workshop and Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) decides to adopt him, where he is soon named Buddy (Ferrell plays him as an adult) by the elves.  Buddy is raised as an elf and believes he is one, though he’s about four feet taller than everyone else.  As Buddy grows older, he discovers he is not an elf but the son of a publisher named Walter Hobbs (James Caan) and Susan Wells, who put Buddy up for adoption and never told Walter they had a son (she dies beforehand).  Buddy then decides to go to New York City to find his father.

When Buddy arrives, he’s easily out of place and not just because he continues to wear his elf clothes.  He meets his father, who now has a wife (Mary Steenburgen) and a son (Daniel Tay), who is shocked and horrified to discover that Buddy’s here and that he thinks he’s an elf.  Meanwhile, Buddy develops a romance with a department store girl played by Zooey Deschanel.  Buddy tries to get his new family into Christmas cheer while Walter attempts to deal with him and also make a pitch for a new children’s book he’s been working on.

Much of the jokes of Elf revolve around Buddy’s reactions to New York.  When he arrives, he immediately starts picking gum from the street, and soon gets into a fight with a department store Santa and starts working in a mailroom.  Buddy is a man-child, a role that Will Ferrell plays best and he’s excellent here.  I’m a fan of Ferrell and he restored my faith in Saturday Night Live in the late 90s.  As Buddy, he does his usual goofy characters but also gives an emotional performance.  Buddy really cares for his father, and the movie dives into a more complex level than one would expect, a reason why Elf is such a delightful film.

Now Elf isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s certainly one that’s always fun to watch.  I see it about once a year, and it’s as funny each time.  I wish more studios would attempt to create a holiday film as likable as Elf without making it too mean-spirited or sloppy like most films that come out today.  Elf succeeds and rises up from these films with its cheer.

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Responses

  1. I just watched it for the first time the other day, and I must say I ended up enjoying more than I thought I would! Your review does it justice 🙂

    • Thanks! Yeah, it’s much better than what it looks like. Seeing the number of tacky Christmas movies, this rises above them.

  2. Yeah, I think it’s pretty safe to call this one a holiday classic by now. Loved when I first saw it in theaters with my dad and little bro, still love it all of these years later. Great review.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I think people will be talking about it in years to come too. I really liked it when I first saw it and it really holds up after multiple viewings.

  3. Gotta love Elf! It’s become a bit of a Christmas tradition to watch this now. Nice review man.

    • Thanks! I watch it every year around Christmas and it’s always fun to see.

  4. Best holiday film for a while 😀

    • Yeah, I agree. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Awww, I haven’t seen this in forever! I usually avoid holiday films but this one was definitely cute. 🙂

    • Yeah, most holiday films grow too sappy or over sentimental but this one doesn’t. I always try to watch it around this time of year. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Totally agree, its a real good christmas film. To an extent, it has actually become a tradition. I watched it the other day and will no doubt watch it next year on christmas! great review.

    • Thanks! It’s a Christmas tradition for me to watch it every year.

  7. Perfect Christmas film! 🙂 Nice write up buddy!

  8. Normally I despise Will Ferrill because he’s the same guy in almost every film, but Elf is very good all the way around.

    • I like Will Ferrell’s work on SNl and have enjoyed some of his films, but he really works here in Elf. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Elf is SO fun to watch. I agree. Thanks for spotlighting it. It’s one of the few Will Ferrell movies I can sit all the way through. So many great quotes and scenes! 🙂

    • I’m a fan of Ferrell and liked his work on SNL, but for me this is his best work. His character works really well here. Thanks for commenting.

  10. ELF is definitely top shelf…

    When he sprays the perfume in his mouth and yells!
    IT BURNS!

    classic!

    When he chugs the 2 liter then belches!


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