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Overall Rating

Awesome: 32.14%
Worth A Look49.11%
Average: 8.04%
Pretty Bad: 5.36%
Total Crap: 5.36%

6 reviews, 76 user ratings

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by Scott Weinberg

"You'll see it for Ferrell; you'll see it again every Christmas."
4 stars

The Christmas regulars are well-discussed and well-adored by movie fans of any religion: It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and (in my house anyway) Scrooged. Good movies that manage to tap into the Christmas Spirit in a way that the also-rans couldn't pull off. (My apologies to fans of Santa Claus: The Movie.) With the arrival of Jon Favreau's adorably sweet "Elf", you can add a new family favorite to your annual Xmas Movie Night.

You don't need to look far to find Will Ferrell being very, very funny. Check out his Alex Trebek or James Lipton parodies on the Saturday Night Live repeats or his maniacal Leprechaun Dance from Conan O'Brien's talk show or the numerous movies he's enlivened thanks to some small and insane contribution (Old School, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Zoolander, etc.) and you'll find a big likeable lug who will clearly do any ol' silly thing in the name of comedy.

Ferrell's salvaged his fair share of cinematic duds, so it's good news indeed to announce that he not only earns a big, fat starring role - but he also delivers a character so goofily lovable and innocently amusing that moviegoers won't be able to stop themselves from adoring the nut.

The plot screams 'high-concept' all the way: after inadvertently stowing away in Santa's sack as an infant, Buddy the Elf grows into a massive human among the diminutive elves who populate the North Pole workshop. Not unlike Steve Martin's Navin Johnson in The Jerk (and numerous other comedies), Buddy comes to the conclusion that he must "find his way in the world" and search out his true family. Not surprisingly, Buddy's father ends up a no-nonsense New Yorker with a heart of stone and Buddy finds himself in a series of somewhat-familiar Fish Out of Water scenarios.

While Elf succeeds in the humor department thanks to Ferrell's bizarrely endearing performance, the film as a whole repeatedly earns points by consistently tipping the familiar on its ear. The humor ranges from silly-sweet to actively arcane, and the schmaltzy stuff is offset by a hipness that could only come from the guy responsible for Swingers.

And that's Jon Favreau, an actor and filmmaker who's respected by everyone and particularly admired by guys between the ages of 20 and 30. From his fan favorite presence in Rudy to his screenplay and performance in Doug Liman's Swingers to his own directorial debut Made to his brilliant Dinner for Five television series...this is a guy that movie fans love to love. And behind the camera for his first big-budget studio flick, Favreau acquits himself quite impressively. Elf's early scenes at the North Pole are a wonder of colorful set design and clever forced-perspective effects; Favreau's Christmastime in New York is a quaint and lovely place.

So Elf has a wonderfully funny performance from its leading man and boasts some astute directorial touches. But the real treasure of the movie is to be found in its supporting cast. The entirely hug-worthy indie gal Zooey Deschanel brings a well-received tone of drollness to the goofy proceedings, legendary cool-guy James Caan offers some great moments as Buddy's unwilling Papa, Bob Newhart steals his every scene as Buddy's adopted elf-dad, and Edward Asner (against all odds) delivers one of modern moviedom's greatest cinematic Santas. Special kudos are worthy to "little" actor Peter Dinklage (of The Station Agent) for his uproariously inspired cameo as a disgruntled author; his performance marks one of the movie's funniest and most memorable sequences.

Elf is also worthy of praise for the way it straddles the line between "family flick" and "plain ol' comedy". Teens and adults who admire Will Ferrell will find a whole lot to enjoy, while parents with six-year-olds in tow will find precisely ZERO offensive material to take exception with. (OK, there's a few loud burps, but six-year-olds already know that loud burps are hilarious.)

It was only a matter of time before a project came along suited to Will Ferrell's expansive comedic talents. It may have taken a lot of bad movies and glorified cameos in the process, but the guy's about to hit the big-time with "Elf"...and you'll probably revisit his Xmas-themed breakthrough many times over the next several Decembers.

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originally posted: 11/07/03 17:50:12
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User Comments

12/25/13 Charles Tatum Fun stuff, with energetic cast and direction 4 stars
12/14/10 zenny If you don't like this movie, you're a heartless grinch 5 stars
12/24/09 MP Bartley Funny and kinda sweet, despite plot sinkholes. Ferrell is terrific. 4 stars
12/16/09 A Girl it puts you in the mood? hahahahha 4 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. i watch this every christmas and it definitely puts me in the mood :] 4 stars
11/17/08 Samantha Pruitt Will Ferrell is really great in it, one movie where he isn't just playing himself! 4 stars
9/04/08 Rachel Not as funny as I'd hoped. Will Ferrell does best at non-PG comedy. 3 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner Will Farrell makes some great films! 5 stars
1/12/08 Pamela White makes a yearly Christmas one to watch 4 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega A very funny Christmas family movie. Better than expected. 3.5/5. 4 stars
1/03/07 Buddy I like to smile. Smiling's my favorite. 5 stars
12/05/06 Stanley Thai A funny, enjoyable film. It's really good. 4 stars
11/19/06 Ionicera predictable, sorta dumb, but still fun 3 stars
9/03/06 Dragon The Artist Cute, but I wish Ferrell would ditch his half-retarded infantile characters 2 stars
11/23/05 Ambiedextris LOVED IT! It was hilarious! 5 stars
9/08/05 Tom Burns This is the funniest holiday movie in years. 5 stars
8/18/05 ES Could have been better, ferrel is an old dog with no new tricks 3 stars
7/16/05 Charlie Ferrell is great (just like in Anchorman), but the rest of the movie is average. 4 stars
7/10/05 JFK not that good. 3 stars
4/01/05 Carolyn Cherry Hilarious 5 stars
3/26/05 Denise not that funny 2 stars
3/25/05 Valerie One of the best Christmas movies ever! 5 stars
3/25/05 Abbi Feel good film, still makes me laugh 5 stars
2/23/05 gracecchu This was such a funny movie, any time of the year! 4 stars
2/21/05 david basile very funny origanal comedy 5 stars
2/19/05 Diane Stahlman THOUGHT IT WOULD BE FUNNIER 3 stars
2/17/05 Lisa Jochelson Will Ferrell at his stupid comedy best. 4 stars
2/15/05 Christine I thought it was entertaining 4 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Hilarious! Born to be the next Christmas classic! 4 stars
2/13/05 Charlene Javier Better than expected. 4 stars
2/12/05 Ig Didn't like the movie 2 stars
2/10/05 Colleen Goldrick Hysterical and Very Silly 4 stars
2/02/05 BobbysRedQueen My Family enjoyed seeing Elf, especially the kids ! 4 stars
1/17/05 HL Aside from a few funny bits..just stupid crap... 2 stars
1/05/05 HotGirl Way better than I thought it would be. Funny and Touching. 4 stars
12/30/04 Debra Sherman a warm fuzzy for Christmas 4 stars
12/28/04 Jim Some amusing nonsense, some plain old silliness. 4 stars
12/28/04 efrain really funny. simple and sorta family-friendly 4 stars
12/27/04 Alex Ferrell Kills it!! 5 stars
12/25/04 Freddy mostly annoying, not very funny 1 stars
12/25/04 Charlene Javier Unexpectedly funny! 4 stars
11/18/04 Jews for Hitler Pretty funny stuff. Grossed out girlfriend with the spaghetti/poptarts/syrup scene. 5 stars
11/16/04 Dunce Farrel & Newhart - always funny, but this movies isn't. Worth a rental. 3 stars
11/08/04 da hood awp! what the fuck! 1 stars
11/07/04 Evan garbage. kids will love it 1 stars
8/26/04 jmsynth Kids will probably love it. Adults should see "Bad Santa" intsead 2 stars
7/25/04 DM Gets corny towards the end, but has some funny parts 3 stars
7/15/04 S.F What the hell was the ending all about and the chick who sings like a reject from 'Annie'? 1 stars
5/16/04 Idiot's Mouth "Sweet"? "Sensitive"? That is GAY. Farrell is a retard, like all SNL "actors". Save$! AVOID 1 stars
2/04/04 Chris I loved this movie alot. One of the top 10 christmas movies of all time. :) 5 stars
1/02/04 Jon Lyrik Middle somewhat sags, but a funny and sweet movie and maybe even a new Christmas classic. 4 stars
12/26/03 Wolf MUCH Better than I thot it would be; and Zooey's voice is *soo* sexy... :) 5 stars
12/26/03 Marcia Lartz Promising start; Middle DRAGS; Ending sort of okay. 3 stars
12/01/03 NoRefill Good mix of adult and child humor. W. Ferrell's style compliments film well. 4 stars
11/29/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. Fell asleep. Maybe I have no sense of humor. Maybe the rest of you don't. 2 stars
11/29/03 k a LOT of fun... just see it 4 stars
11/27/03 Amanda This movie is very funy 5 stars
11/27/03 he a good film 4 stars
11/25/03 Troy Butler 4.5 stars, ... really enjoyable, fun for all ages!!! Highly Recommended!!! 5 stars
11/25/03 Pat Brink This movie is great! See it now...and see it every Christmas! 5 stars
11/23/03 Flick Chick you'll like it, the kids will love it. 4 stars
11/23/03 Nicole Cute & funny 4 stars
11/16/03 bullit16 Very cute. Laugh out loud funny. 4 stars
11/16/03 Jaime I loved this movie!! It was really worth seeing:) 5 stars
11/12/03 Dee Soon to be a Christmas classic 5 stars
11/12/03 nick2k not amy sedaris, andy richter, kyle gass, and matt walsh is in it!!! 4 stars
11/12/03 Two-G - horror_blood2 (aka Double G) Hilarious Movie! 5 stars
11/11/03 Cameron Slick Ferrell is just as funny in this one as he was in Old School, only on a different field. 4 stars
11/10/03 OSU1992 OHMYGOD this movie sucked. 1 stars
11/10/03 kaori lost it was sooooo cute and funny. A film with lots of heart. 5 stars
11/10/03 Miss B. Haven SANTAAAAA!!!!!OH MY GOD!!!!! i know him!! funny, sweet movie 5 stars
11/09/03 George Jung Amazing. 5 stars
11/08/03 Vicious Ferrell was great. 4 stars
11/08/03 Blubberbot Very funny 5 stars
11/07/03 Boombah Baby Surprisingly great. Nice job, Ferrell and Favreau! 5 stars
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  07-Nov-2003 (PG)
  DVD: 26-Oct-2010



Directed by
  Jon Favreau

Written by
  David Berenbaum

  Will Ferrell
  James Caan
  Zooey Deschanel
  Bob Newhart
  Ed Asner
  Mary Steenburgen

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