Elf (2003)

elf poster 2003 movie will ferrell
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Will Ferrell, great visuals

Bad ending

Movie Info

Movie Name: Elf

Studio: New Line Cinema

Genre(s): Comedy/Family/Romance/Seasonal

Release Date(s): November 7, 2003

MPAA Rating: PG

elf father bob newhart north pole

It’s tough being an elf

Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) has always felt like an outcast among the other elves.  He can’t make toys like the others and he’s three times as big as every other elf.  Buddy learns a secret; he’s a human…but even worse, his father (James Caan) is on the naughty list!  Buddy sets out for New York City to meet his family and see the world.  Buddy learns that everything might not be perfect in the city, but when he meets a girl named Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), his world begins to change.

Directed by Jon Favreau, Elf is a holiday family comedy.  The movie was both a critical and box office success.  It spawned a Broadway musical and an animated holiday special called Elf:  Buddy’s Musical Christmas.  The film also became a regular during holiday season airings.

I didn’t get to see Elf in the theater, but I actually wanted to.  When it rolled out the next holiday, I watched it and ended up watching it multiple times with multiple people that year.  I can see why it was able to latch on to society.  Elf is a pretty high concept comedy, but it works.

elf james caan will ferrell department store window

He’s not mine…

The story surprisingly curbs Ferrell’s usually adult humor.  There’s no swearing and it is pretty family friendly.  The movie does roll out as predicted and gets a little too “kid adventure” based at the end with the whole Central Park portion of the film.  The film works best with Ferrell doing his thing exploring the North Pole and New York City with the eyes of a child.

Will Ferrell is generally hit-or-miss, but there is something about him that has energy.  Elf was a perfect coming together of Ferrell and a script.  The story worked with his humor and the visuals worked with his look.  Love him or hate him, Elf is generally one of those movies that people can agree to accept him in.  He’s backed by a good supporting cast of James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Asner, Peter Dinklage, and Bob Newhart as Buddy’s adopted father.  Another holiday favorite Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A Christmas Story) makes an uncredited cameo as one of Buddy’s North Pole coworkers.

elf ice skating rockefeller plaza jovie zooey deschanel will ferrell

Bring on the holiday cheer, Elf-Boy!

Visually the movie is very impressive.  The effects of the North Pole were great.  They used a lot of forced perspective like the visuals in The Lord of the Rings and it makes the scenes with the large and awkward Will Ferrell seem believable.  The movie even had throwbacks to the classic old Rankin/Bass claymation like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer a Claymation sequence as Buddy heads south…plus, New York City always makes for great Christmas movies.

Check out Elf…it is fun for everyone.  It is also one of those movies that year after year, it is ok to watch once…or even twice around the holidays because of Ferrell’s commitment to the role.  Elf has earned its place around modern holiday classics and hopefully will have a long life.

Related Links:

Elf:  Buddy’s Musical Christmas (2014)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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