On Christmas Eve, a long time ago, a small baby crawled into Santa's bag
of toys during a stop at an orphanage. Undetected by Santa, the child was accidentally
whisked back to the North Pole. Once discovered, the boy was quickly taken under the wing of Santa's
most trusted helper and raised as an elf. But when he grew three sizes larger than
everyone else in Santa's workshop, it became clear that Buddy (Will Ferrell)
would never truly fit into the elf world. So Buddy decided to set off for New
York City, in search of his roots and his real father. He seeks out his real father,
Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a workaholic publisher of children's books
with a place on Santa's "naughty" list. Walter doesn't believe Buddy is who or what
he says he is; the only thing Walter believes in with any certainty is the bottom line.
Elf becomes a story of Buddy finding his place in a new and unfamiliar place... from
the North Pole to the Big Apple!
Elf is a secular Christmas comedy about a man raised by elves in the North Pole who
sets out to find his real family in New York City. Buddy the elf is played by Will Ferrell of
Saturday Night Live fame. Ferrell is amazing at playing character actors and it's nice to see him
in at his best here, stretching his acting wings. Elf is yet another family comedy that proves all you
need is a good comedic actor and a good story sans the vulgarities to make a hilarious film. Ferrell's antics as Buddy
are so innocent and charming and often just downright funny. He embodies Buddy perfectly (I'd love
to see outtakes from this), giving a childlike wonder to his personality that just helped make the scenario
believable enough. The film's delivery is extremely lighthearted as well. A lot of the jokes border
so much on the ridiculous that the more serious of watchers probably won't be able to enjoy. But the charm Ferrell exhibits in each
moment of his screen time is worth the price of admission alone. Just expect one enjoyable cornball dish
(covered in syrup).
It's hard to find Christmas films these days that get the "true meaning of Christmas" right. While the act
of giving and loving are big factors to defining the spirit of Christmas, most films like these miss out on
the truth and wonder of the Savior's birth on Christmas day. Showing nuns twice in the film in a positive light
is the extent of the spirituality of Elf, but the film serves as a benign piece of uplifting family
entertainment. The content is fairly clean with only a few awkward moments (and an incident where Buddy gets
unknowingly drunk), so it's nice to see a comedy as tame and smartly written as this one. My only beef
with Elf was the sugar-overload of an ending where Ferrell's Buddy is given less of the comedic spotlight
as they turn on the cheesy message of Christmas spirit. While it tiptoes across the fine line between being acceptable
and overdone, the film is just too lovable to let a few odd moments ruin the hilarity that precedes it.
The supporting cast was near perfect. 23-year-old Zooey Deschanel played Ferrell's love interest, Jovie, who added
a perfect cynicism to her part that helped balance Buddy's boyish enthusiasm. James Caan played off of Buddy
very well as the straight man receiving the brunt of Buddy's hyperactive immaturity. But the weakest member
of the cast was the unimpressive and awkward Daniel Tay as Buddy's half-brother.
Fans of Will Ferrell's work on Saturday Night Live will find him hysterical in Elf. Those
unfamiliar with him are liable to find his character either irresistible or intensely annoying. But Elf
has got what it takes to be a memorable Christmas film you'll wanna watch again each
- John DiBiase
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: We see Jovie in the shower from the shoulders up
as she sings a song that Buddy hears from outside the store bathroom. Feeling compelled to sing along, Buddy
begins singing along with her while in the bathroom and her unaware of his presence. When she discovers him
there, she kicks him out; Walter tells Buddy to "lose the tights" (meaning to change into normal clothing), but
Buddy mistakes his suggestion as a literal here-and-now instruction and drops his pants. We don't see anything,
but Emily does as she walks in during this and freaks out.
Vulgarity/Language: 3 "h*ll", 2 "cr*p", 1 "d*mn", 2 "G-d"
Alcohol/Drugs: Buddy and a coworker get drunk; We see some guys in a bar with drinks
Blood/Gore: Buddy gets sick from running in a revolving door and throws up in
a garbage can, but we don't see anything (just briefly and subtly hear it)
Violence: Cartoon-related violence including a raccoon attacking Buddy,
a taxi hitting Buddy, a store Santa attacks Buddy, a midget attacks Buddy after he refers to him as an elf.
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.