Elf (2003)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Full of spirit.

Well, it’s December, so why not start off with some Christmas movie reviews? Throughout the month, I’ll be going through the Christmas Movie list provided by Half Popped Reviews, be adding my own, as well as just…reviewing regular movies. Heck, I’m still in the middle of watching martial arts and Jackie Chan movies, so got to mix and mash sometimes. One Christmas movie that is more recent but still an instant classic is Will Farrell’s first film since his departure from Saturday Night Live, Elf in 2003. The reason why this film is so classic is because of how much holiday spirit spews from the film, which sadly isn’t seen very often from Christmas movies anymore, save for lame Hallmark movies.

Will Farrell stars in this film that’s actually good about a human child who was raised in the North Pole. You see, Buddy was an orphan that snuck into Santa’s bag and was accidentally transported to the North Pole, and I guess they thought no one wanted him anyway, and decided to keep him. Let’s ignore the temperatures of the North Pole would quickly kill Buddy. Anyways, by the time he was a grown man, he found out that he was a human, so he set off to New York City to reunite with his dad. There’s one problem, though, his dad is on the naughty list.

There is so much Christmas spirit in this film. First of all, there is a lot of shout outs to classic Christmas films. Buddy himself (along with the rest of the North Pole) is taken straight out of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Claymation film. His costume is a direct copy of the elf costumes in the film, they even had the singing snowman and other claymation animals roaming around. Then, the Ming Ming elf was the same actor who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story. Also, the Grimbles building that Buddy first works at is the same building as Miracle on 34th Street (Macy’s), and finally, a scene towards the end of the film including a bridge was shouting out to It’s a Wonderful Life. So many classics, but that’s not the main reason as to why this film has Christmas spirit.

The whole thing is presented as a man-child thing, yes, but when you mix that with Christmas, you get the innocence of a child and their undying excitement for Christmas day. There is nothing like that cheer. It’s behind a level of stupidity and goofball humor, but it really is there. That humor, by the way, is brilliant and fits Will Farrell perfectly. He keeps picking terrible roles that aren’t even remotely funny anymore, but when he first started out, he did know how to pick them. I love his character here. He’s funny, sweet, innocent, and the whole fish-out-of-water scenario fit him perfectly.

Where it is flawed comes from our exhaustion with Will Farrell. Let’s be honest, if this film was made today, the likelihood that we’d be all for it would be greatly diminished, because it would just look like another Will Farrell movie where he acts like a manchild. Then, knowing his reputation, would think this is a joke, just as much as we though Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular thing was a joke. I think it came out at the right time, but I also review for a modern audience who hasn’t seen it before, and honestly, I don’t know. I just think people wouldn’t give it a chance. The jokes that were once roll on the floor laughing, were more of a chuckle this time around.

The rest of the cast is brilliant. Zoe Deschanel is fantastic in her role as the sweet girl with old-timey singing voice; James Caan looked extremely bored, but that somehow worked for his role; and Buddy’s brother probably worked the best opposite of Farrell in their scenes together. The cast was really great all around.

The Good:
Christmas spirit is readily apparent from beginning to end. Will Farrell’s presentation as a human elf is still a very memorable role and is welcomed every year as part of the Christmas spirit.

The Bad:
Nowadays, people are annoyed by Will Farrell in general, and may not actually want to give this one a shot. He’s even hated by some societies. In that regard, this film may not mull over very well for some groups.

Memorable Quote:

Gimbel’s Manager: HEY! There’s no singin’ in the North Pole!

Buddy: Yes there is!

Gimbel’s Manager: No there’s not!

Buddy: We sing all the time!

Gimbel’s Manager: No you don’t!

Buddy: Especially when we build toys!


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