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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 EricDSnider

"A Ferrell to remember."
4 stars

On "Saturday Night Live," Will Ferrell's genius came from his mastery of one of comedy's most basic elements: You have to be committed. Nearly anything can be funny as long as the performer completely believes in what he's doing, no matter how absurd or stupid. If the audience sees doubt in the actor's eyes -- a glimmer of, "This is kinda silly, isn't it?" -- the spell is broken and the humor becomes diluted.

Ferrell demonstrated this principle in nearly every sketch he appeared in during his seven-year stint, and he does it again in "Elf," his first starring film role. He plays Buddy, a human who crawled into Santa's sack as a baby and was subsequently raised by elves back at the North Pole. Now, 30 years later, he follows all the customs of the elves, including being perpetually merry, living on sugar, and admiring Santa (played by Edward Asner) to a nearly psychotic degree. Despite physical evidence to the contrary (i.e., being twice the size of one), he believes he is an elf. And more to the point, Ferrell believes that Buddy believes he's an elf.

This sets the stage for what turns out to be one of the jolliest, funniest, most deliriously whimsical family comedies we've seen in quite a while. Buddy finally learns from his adoptive elf father (Bob Newhart) of his true heritage, and sets out for New York -- dressed in full elf accouterment -- to find his birth father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), a children's book editor who is gruff and busy and doesn't know the True Meaning of Christmas. (Long-lost relatives, as you know, always live in New York and seldom know the True Meaning of anything.)

Buddy's adventures in the big city are what you'd expect: He's never dealt with cars before (let alone New York City taxis), he's fascinated by revolving doors, he takes at face value a cafe's assertion that it sells the "world's best cup of coffee," and he accepts with thanks the fliers for nudie shows being handed out by men on the sidewalk.

But heaven help me, the way Ferrell sells it is hysterical. He's a completely innocent, blithely naive manchild, skipping and caroling his way through New York like it's his own personal winter wonderland, demonstrating his obliviousness in an endlessly creative series of vignettes. (Why does he eat cotton balls at the doctor's office? BECAUSE IT'S FUNNY, that's why.)

His meeting with his father, who never knew he existed, also results in what you'd expect. Dad is unreceptive, but he has a wife (Mary Steenburgen) and young son (Daniel Tay), whom he neglects, who like Buddy and take him into their home. Buddy wreaks havoc on Dad's work, causing Dad to blow up. Then Buddy saves the day, and Christmas, and probably the world, all while developing a crush on a girl (Zooey Deschanel) who finds his elf-like guilelessness fascinating.

It's a lot like "Splash," and a lot like "Big," and a lot like some other movies that did not star Tom Hanks. Some family films attempt originality; this one, written by first-timer David Berenbaum and directed by Jon Favreau, is happy to rely on familiar devices, confident that the performances and good-natured holiday cheerfulness will bolster it.

The plan works, and it's Ferrell's film all the way. In fact, there is a noticeable decrease in the film's buoyancy when he is not on the screen, as the story falls back to earth, its unoriginal roots becoming more obvious. Fortunately, he's nearly always visible, his enthusiasm, dedication and sheer comic agility completely infectious. Kids will probably find his antics amusing, if not hilarious, while enjoying the simple story. Adults, whose eyes for genius are a bit keener, will find no end to the delight that is Will Ferrell.

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originally posted: 11/07/03 13:42:12
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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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