As I was leaving the movie Elf, I saw a bald frowning man with his two daughters. Looks like you could use some Christmas cheer, I said. I asked him if he was going to see Elf, and he asked me how it was. “Big, dumb, and silly” I told him. His face brightened up right away. “That’s the best kind isn’t it?” he said. “Yeah” I told him. “You’re going to like it a lot. It’s real silly. Merry Christmas.”
Will Ferrell is a nonstop joy as a human raised by Santa’s elves in a film that asks you to check normal reality at the front door and surrender to the whimsical giddy fantasy world that this movies takes place in. The scenes in Santa’s workshop look strikingly similar to other movies with Santa Claus in them. Basically this means that the colors red and green are everywhere, as are cheerful elves making toys in assembly lines or in a row at large tables. Will Ferrell is twice as big as these elves are and he really gets into the character (aptly named Buddy), playing him as a bright-eyed grinning little boy trying desperately to fit into the little desks and outfits too tight for him as he attempts to be a human in an elf world. Everything in Santa’s workshop is just so precious.
Okay, so what happens for the whole rest of the movie is that Will Ferrell discovers that he has a real father who works in New York; and so just like any kid, he wants to go see him and tell him that he loves him. So for the next long while its your typical fish out of water story as he gets hit by cars, works at a toy store, falls in love, discovers he has a half brother, tries desperately to get his father to love him, and helps the people of New York City discover the true meaning of Christmas. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s dressed like an elf for almost the entire movie?
The rest of the cast plays off Ferrell’s manic energy with ease. James Caan is his, suspicious that the wacko in an elf suit is really his son, father. Bob Newhart puts in a tender performance as Papa Elf, who raised Buddy since he was a baby. Zooey Deschanel plays the girl who works in the toy store that falls for his big heart and silly ways.
Okay, so what’s funny about this movie exactly? Only just about everything. Will Ferrell is hilarious and he puts his heart and soul out there for this performance. A car hits him, and Buddy bounces up like some weird toy apologizing to the person that hit him. The scenes of him in the toy store getting chased by the toy store Santa and arguing with the store manager about the store’s Christmas display (This is the North Pole. No it isn’t. …This is the North Pole) are just priceless.
Okay. So will you like it? Have you been reading this article very closely? Didn’t you figure out yet that this movie is so hilarious that I have to call it that only because a better word hasn’t presented itself yet? If you enjoy any kind of physical comedy (pratfalls a plenty), then you should watch Elf. In fact, the only type of people that I would not recommend watch this movie are those with severe health or mental problems, and parents that are certain that their children will imitate any bizarre behavior that they see in movies.
Disclaimer: Okay, the ending feels just a little bit schmaltzy and tacked on, but its okay. Trust me. By the time you’ve been watching Elf for that long, you’ll buy into the contrived silliness. It won’t even matter that if you thought about it logically it didn’t seem to fit in exactly with the whole rest of the film. Nope, doesn’t matter a bit, just sit back and enjoy the ride.