MPAA Rated – PG
It’s 1:35 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Edward Asner, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen, Artie Lange
MPAA Rated: PG
Released By: New Line Cinema
Release Date: 2003
Kiddie Movie: Bring everyone along.
Date Movie: Bring her along, too!
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Buddy the Elf beating up the fake Santa.
Action: Nah.
Laughs: Lots of them.
Memorable Scene: Buddy the Elf beating up the fake Santa.
Memorable Quote: Too many to list.
Directed By: Jon Fabreau

Here’s my advice to Will Farrell, and take it for what it’s worth: Please don’t try to play a dramatic actor. Your niche is comedy, and you are great at it, and you are quickly showing that any branch of comedy can be yours. Please don’t set yourself up for a fall playing a dramatic role, no matter what the folks say. Anyway, on to Elf…

It seems that on one of his Christmas runs Santa picked up a wayward baby from an orphanage. Not really knowing what to do, Santa kept the baby for his own. Alright, not really his own, but Santa decided he should be raised as an elf. And so we get Buddy (Will Farrell), a little oversized for the miniature world of Santa’s helpers. And yes, he didn’t really figure out something was different about him until one day his surrogate dad, Bob Newhart (In a fabulous role I must say), had to break the news that true, Buddy was not an elf, and yes, his father was in New York City and on the naughty person list.

So Buddy is off to NYC to find his father and bring a little Christmas cheer to the folks in the big city. Now yes, you have to suspend a lot of disbelief that things are happening, but then again, it is a story about Santa and his elves. In NYC, Buddy does find his dad, and dad is a not-so-great man. Turns out he is a children’s book publisher, and not an honest one at that.

And so Buddy is welcomed into Dad’s home, mom accepts this thirty year old dude in tights, and Buddy quickly becomes best friends with his half-brother when he shows off his snow-ball skills.

But is the story cute for kids? I thought so, especially since most of the kids in the audience seemed to be having as good a time at the film as I was. They got the potty humor, the love story wasn’t that sappy, and in the end we get the cliché ending we are totally expecting.

Elf works for two reasons. One we get just a nice little Christmas story about a naive elf finding himself in the big city trying to spread Christmas cheer. Two, we get a perfectly cast movie. Edward Asner as Santa is terrific. He’s in a predicament with Buddy and works that out. He has problems with his sleigh and works that out, and in the end is the embodiment of Christmas. James Caan as the dad is great, too, at first just working to make a buck for the company, but then realizing family is just as important. Zooey Deschanel as the love interest is innocent enough, and Mary Steenburgen as mom actually comes off as believable letting buddy into their home. But the two standouts for me were Bob Newhart in a perfectly cast role, as the head elf, in charge of being buddy’s dad yet having to break him the bad news. The other standout is Farrell. He comes off as the innocent one in a movie that could have him as just a dufus, and his scene when he confronts the “fake Santa” at the store (Artie Lange from the Howard Stern Show) is just fabulous.

Elf seemed to be enjoyed by most of everyone in the theater when I was there, although one joke did seem to go over most people’s heads, the one about the baby asparagus being self conscious because their pee smelled (am I the only one familiar with asparagus pee?). Maybe not for the really young one, but I think Elf is pretty great for the whole family.

It’s 4 stars out of 5 for Elf.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!