FBMR - Elf
Film-Buff Movie Reviews

ELF (2003) ***

I will admit that when I saw the previews for this movie, I rolled my eyes because I thought it looked kind of dumb. But the people I know who saw it said it was great, really funny. I still stayed away, though, until it came out on video and DVD.

Now having seen it, Iím glad that I did. It wasnít as great or as funny as others made it out to be, nor as I was expecting, but it was still pretty funny and sweet and worth a peek, especially around Christmas time.

Buddy (Will Ferrell) was sent to an orphanage as a little baby. His mother passed away, and his father (James Caan) was never told that his former girlfriend had had his baby. One Christmas night, baby Buddy sees a teddy bear in Santaís bag, climbs out of his crib and crawls with the bear. Upon arriving at the North Pole, Santa (Edward Asner) and the elves discover this baby, and because they keep tabs on all the people in the world for their Naughty or Nice Lists, know right away that it must be Buddy. They decide to keep the baby in the North Pole and he is adopted by a single father (Bob Newhart) and raised as an elf. Noticeably different than all the other elves in size and toy-making ability, Buddy decides to seek out his birth father in New York City when he finds out that he isnít really an elf, but is a human. Once there, Buddyís genuine loving spirit throws just about everybody off at first, except very small children, but eventually, everyone is won over by his good nature and cheer.

Having grown up in the North Pole, surrounded by Christmas year-round, cheerfulness, magic, and elves, Buddy has the innocence and wonder of a child. Watching his New York City experience is like watching a six-year old being six-years old. Itís made even funnier because it is a grown man acting in such a manner. It reminded me of Tom Hanks in BIG and Robin Williams in JACK, where both actors play a child character in an adultís body. Ferrell was perfectly cast in this role. He shows Buddyís awe and sincerity in his eyes, his voice, his body language and physicality. It doesnít hurt that throughout the majority of the movie, he is wearing yellow tights, a green tunic-jacket, and an elf hat and shoes.

His first day in New York City is very cute. There are a couple of really big laughs, mostly involving slap-stick and physical humour. There is a fun little cameo by the snowman from the RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER television special. And what family Christmas movie wouldnít be complete without a sugary-sweet ending? I donít know if itís destined to become a classic, but it is fun holiday viewing.