Elf (2003) Christmas film review


Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Will Ferrell, Mary Steenburgen and James Caan

Christmas film review by Chris Olson

As another Christmas film which blends reality with festive fantasy, Elf tells the story of Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human being who ends up being raised as an elf at The North Pole amongst Santa and his minions. However, after landing in New York at Christmas time, Buddy seeks out his real father (James Caan), a children's book publisher who has less Christmas spirit than a zombie Scrooge.


Buddy's unique upbringing has left him a naive and exuberant soul, who nearly passes out at any mention of anything Christmas. As he settles himself in with his real family, Buddy begins to transform their humbuginess into hearty festive cheer, but can Caan come to enjoy Christmas?

If you are not a fan of Ferrell's brand of comedy, Elf will be liking sticking candy canes up your nose. He is on top form in terms of huge comedy here, delivering an unforgettable performance which has cemented Elf's position as a beloved classic.


What makes Elf stand out is Ferrell. Other than that, the movie does has a wearisome pacing which is exhausting and the story is not that fulfilling. The more emotional strings are never plucked with much fervour, in particular the subplot of Zooey Deschanel's bored sales assistant and love interest. Caan and his family are left pretty vacant, and the themes of the movie are never lifted above the surface, in favour of letting Ferrell do his thing.

That being said, there is a reason that Elf comes back each year, and that is the comedy. Laughs are spilled across this movie like a battlefield of snowballs. From Ferrell getting hit by a taxi to Ferrell eating a diabetic nightmare, or Ferrell decorating a department store to Ferrell throwing snowballs, this film has a lot of funnies from Ferrell.

You may be sensing a theme here.


Fans of Ferrell will find a hugely enjoyable Christmas film with Elf and it stands the test of time for the comedic elements, but it won't deliver the hearty punch that other festive outings achieve.

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