Okay, this is a fun movie, what I consider to be one of those classic Christmas movies I am willing to watch every year. And for me, that is a fairly short list, such as A Christmas Story and the ubiquitous It’s a Wonderful Life. (Interestingly, Peter Billingsley, who plays the lead Ralphie role in A Christmas Story, has an adult role in Elf.) The script goes over the top a bit sometimes, resulting in cringeworthy moments for me, but it is harmless and easily forgiven. There is wit, pathos and sight gags galore. I like the chemistry between Will Farrell and Zooey, and it is a treat to have national treasures Ed Asner and Bob Newhart leading off the film as Santa and the Papa elf. James Caan and Mary Steenburgen are credible as Elf’s prospective new family in New York City. So there is not a lot of depth to this movie, nor is there supposed to be. It is a great film to watch with friends or extended family. It shouldn’t offend anyone and you can visit with each other, because you don’t have to pay close attention to the plot. In fact, many viewers will be able to recite he lines along with the characters.
Good watch, will likely watch again, and can recommend. For all the good this movie has in it, there is a fair amount of annoying as well, which is what keeps it from being a great movie. A family reconnection trope, with a character out of his element trope, crossed with one of the most annoyingly positive characters of all time trope. Ultimately, it's a sweet, hear warming story that really captures the spirit of family, Christmas, and togetherness. It also captures all of the insanity Will Ferrell can conjure up for his character, basically as if he wrote a SNL Christmas special and just rode rough shod over the other actors. The cast does a wonderful job of backing up Will Ferrell, but that's clearly what it is. Around the holidays, especially, don't be afraid of giving this a try, and bear through the annoying bits, because there is likely something really funny just about to happen.
_**Destined to be played on TV every Christmas the rest of your life**_ Released in 2003 and directed by Jon Favreau, "Elf" is a Christmas dramedy/fantasy starring Will Farrell as an orphaned infant who stows away on Santa Claus' sleigh and isn't discovered until he's at the North Pole, where he's adopted by Papa Elf and named Buddy. After growing up as an elf, he travels to New York City to meet his father (James Caan) and starts a relationship with his neglected younger half-brother. He also starts a relationship with a department store worker (Zooey Deschanel) and helps spread Christmas cheer as Santa (Ed Asner) arrives to the city. This is an all-around entertaining Christmas flick highlighted by Farrell's goofiness as the quasi-elf. It's fun with consistent laughs, not to mention a nice Christmas moral. The film runs 97 minutes and was shot in New York City and Vancouver. GRADE: B+
Whilst delivering toys to an orphanage, a curious baby crawls into Santa's sack. Back at the North Pole shortly after, this young lad makes his presence felt, is named "Buddy" and put in the care of "Papa Elf" (Bob Newhart). Years later, "Buddy" (Will Ferrell) has now grown to full height and isn't really fitting in - on any level. His adopted dad tells him something of his real parents and off to New Work he goes in search of his father "Walter" (James Caan) who had, hitherto, been completely unaware of this son's existence. Hard-nosed "Walter" is initially disinterested, but thanks to a photograph from years gone by, quickly decides to try and help his green-suited offspring to try and make his way in the world. "Buddy" isn't very good at much, but what he excels at is making friends and spreading good cheer - and all of that proves crucial when Santa (Ed Asner) finds his sleigh won't work on Christmas Eve for lack of Christmas spirit. Can "Buddy" rally the troops - and avoid the menacing Central Park Rangers? This is a jolly and fun Christmas feel-good film that has weathered the last twenty years rather well. The sentiment is well layered, the humour works for all ages and Caan compliments the sometimes cringe-making effusiveness of "Buddy" - aided by sparing but kindly appearances from Mary Steenburgen - well. There is even an hint of a romance for our good-natured soul in the form of "Jovie" (Zooey Deschanel) and as Christmas movies go, this is certainly one of the better ones.
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