“It’s funny, it has heart, and it has a message that is very pertinent to this time of year.”
Well the line has officially been crossed. What line, you ask? The completely arbitrary line that I drew in my head that separates December into “Not really Christmas” and “Hardcore Christmas”. We officially kick-off “Hardcore Christmas” with one of my favourite Christmas movies, Elf. Elf is the story of Buddy the Elf, a human who snuck into Santa’s bag when he was a baby and was then unwittingly brought to the North Pole. Buddy was then raised as an elf, but as he grew so did the differences between him and everyone else. Eventually Buddy is informed that he is in fact human, and that his real father works in New York City. Buddy then takes the greatest adventure of his life to find his biological father and see the world for the first time.
When you think of Christmas classics, most of the answers are films that have been out for decades. Elf is one of the exceptions for me. I was just a kid when Elf came out, and I instantly loved it. It has since become a Christmas staple for me, and I’m sure many others as well. Really what’s so appealing about Elf is the fact that the movie is just fun. Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf as he discovers the intricacies of the human world, and it is absolutely hilarious to watch. Having the movie take place in New York was genius as well because it allows for the most stark contrast between Buddy and literally everyone else in the city. And despite all of the comedy, Elf was also able to inject some heartfelt moments into its story as well. Buddy is such a well-meaning character and everyone he comes in contact with has their life changed for the better. Of course there is the sadder side to Buddy’s character with him being rejected by his father and all, but that only adds to the ending that we get. I will admit that the plot of Elf gets a little hokey toward the films end, but overall it is a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
A lot of what makes Elf work is the performances. Of course you have heavy-hitters like James Caan and Ed Asner, but you also have people like Zooey Deschanel and Daniel Tay who both do great jobs in the film as well. And you have a sweet cameo by Peter Dinklage as the disgruntled children’s author Miles Finch. But really the stand out is Will Ferrell who, in my opinion, makes the movie. The plot of Elf in itself is fairly basic, but the writing does inject a lot of uniqueness into the film. But what brings the writing to life is definitely Will Ferrell’s performance as Buddy the Elf. Buddy is just such a happy character, and Ferrell captures that perfectly. His comedic timing is absolutely brilliant and he plays Buddy with a sense of ignorance but not stupidity. He’s like a child trapped in a man’s body, and that is exactly what the character should be. Elf also surprised me with the special effects in the film. You would expect a movie from 2003 to look like absolute garbage nowadays, and even though Elf does have its moments of awful CGI for the most part it does hold up. What specifically impressed me was all of the scenes at the beginning of the film that take place in the North Pole. What we get to see when Buddy is in the North Pole is some pretty clever forced perspective tricks. Again, there are some effects that don’t really stand the test of time, but overall all of these were done really well. We also get to see quite a few claymation animals that look surprising good as well.
Overall Elf is exactly what a Christmas movie should be. It’s funny, it has heart, and it has a message that is very pertinent to this time of year. For these reasons Elf remains one of my favourite Christmas movies.
I give Elf an A