Film Reviews

Christmas Favorites: Elf (2003)

Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Mary Steenbergen, Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart

Director: Jon Favreau

When an orphaned baby accidentally gets taken to the North Pole, Santa decides to keep him and he’s raised as an elf. But one day, he finds out he’s adopted and decides to head to New York to meet the father he’s never known.

What Is It?

Will Ferrell is sweet and naïve as the elf who is a fish out of water in the North Pole and then finds himself equally as out of place in the big city. His crush on the girl (Deschanel) who works in the Christmas section of the department store is really nice. And James Caan feels perfect as the cynic who can’t believe this huge man dressed as an elf is for real, and who also… doesn’t believe in Santa Claus (gasp!). It’s genuinely warm and funny, and has a beautiful seasonal look with plenty of magic all the way through.

Why Do I Love This One?

I didn’t actually like this film the first time I saw it when it came out, for some reason, but it grew on me. And now I really like the way that Buddy the elf is magical and brings that magic to the world of the people around him. I love stories where someone innocent and nice turns out to be smarter and wiser than the cynics. I think we need stories like those sometimes, and this one does it so well. Will Ferrell is so good at wide eyed, goofy and naïve comedy and I think this may be one of his best films. I also really like the way everyone around him is taken aback by him. There’s always this moment where they think he’s odd, they pause, and then they either soften or think he some kind of scam.

Also, call me a big kid, but I love the idea that Santa and his elves live somewhere making toys, and this movie shows us that world and it’s so pretty and sweet and well realised. I love how different that is to New York city, and yet, there’s magic there too.

One thing that’s great about this movie is if you bring it up, people all have their favorite moment. Mine is a bit random, but there’s a scene where Buddy is decorating the tree with his little half brother and he launches himself at the tree to get the star on and the whole thing falls. I don’t know why, but it gets me every time.

Buddy the Elf is wonderful. You turn up for Will Ferrel and the laughs, but I think the sweetness and heart of this film get you too.

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