Elf


Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by:David Berenbaum
Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel
Released: November 27, 2003
Grade: C+

Even the most festive of patrons will be struggling to find much cheer in this year’s biggest Christmas relief – Elf.  Comedian Will Ferrell stars as Buddy – an elf who works for Santa building presents at the North Pole.  There’s something obviously different about Buddy though – his height.  He’s twice as tall as the other elves but has never suspected anything wrong about it.

Overhearing a conversation, Buddy finds out he’s not really an elf.  When just a baby, he inadvertently crawled into Santa’s sack of toys and wound up being taken home with him.  Buddy was an orphan so Santa (Asner) took him under his wing and Papa Elf (Newhart) raised him.  On learning this, Buddy is also given some important information from Santa.  His mother has died but his father is still alive and never knew that he was born.  So Buddy sets out for New York City to track dad and become part of his own family for the first time.

The father is Walter (Caan) who works as a book publisher in the Empire State Building.  He’s not on Santa’s nice list and is a pretty cruddy person to be honest.  He’s married but spends little time with his wife and son.  His latest children’s book came back from the printer with the last two pages missing but he decided to sell it to stores anyway.  He’s clearly in need of some Christmas spirit and the arrival of Buddy the Elf will turn his world upside down.

Actor Will Ferrell began his career on American TV’s Saturday Night Live but he’s now classed as a fully fledged movie star.  He’s had major roles in A Night At The Roxbury, Zoolander and Old School.  He’s the headline act in Elf but he’s given no support at all from the script and its writer, David Berenbaum.  I know the film is pitched at kids but there are few jokes even for them.  Nothing more than a sarcastic chuckle was uttered from my mouth.  This idea should not have been green-lighted without a lot more work.

This time every year we have movies about Santa and how people just don’t believe in him anymore.  I’ve seen it all before and don’t feel like seeing it too many more times.