There are a handful of Christmas films I always aim to see every year. High up on my list of must-see festive movies is Elf, so when I got a chance to see it on the big screen this holiday season, I recruited a friend and packed the mince pies for the screening. Honestly, there really were mince pies. And a Christmas jumper.
Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) is a human brought up by elves after mistakenly ending up at the North Pole. Put up for adoption as a baby and then taken in by the elves when he stows away in Santa’s sack of toys, Buddy finds a home in the elves’ workshop, but when he’s fully grown he just can’t keep up with the frantic pace and skill of year-round toy making. When he overhears that he is a human and not an elf, Buddy is told the truth that his father is still alive and living in New York. Setting out to find his dad in an alien world away from all he knows, Buddy tries to win over his new family, start a romance and save Christmas.
Elf is the typical story of an innocent abroad, which creates a stream of funny yuletide situations for the viewer’s delight. It also contains the best ever rendition of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, when love interest Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) sings in the shower at the Department Store where she and Buddy work, and Buddy quietly duets. The romantic elements are lovely and through Buddy we are reminded that ordinary things can be full of wonder, particularly what we take for granted every Christmas.
Originally released in 2003, Elf is one of Jon Favreau’s earliest outings as a feature film director. He really does get a great performance out of Will Ferrell as Buddy. Although Ferrell is delivering all the comedic situations, it’s actually a very restrained performance as he needs to keep in character as an elf. There appears to be no riding off into crazy Ron Burgandy-style improv here. Being an elf is a serious business.
As well has handling the happy/sad elements that every successful Christmas must contain, Favreau certainly orchestrates the magic throughout. By the end of the movie it really does seem like all that is needed to get Santa’s sleigh to fly is Christmas spirit and when those who believe group together to sing to make that sleigh fly through the streets of New York, there’s always a little more warmth in my heart.
In the end the movie leaves you feeling that if you don’t believe in Christmas spirit, you’re just a cotton-headed ninny muggins. You do believe, don’t you?