Pros:some funny parts, Will Ferrell, good family film
Cons:its been done before, really gruff Caan
The Bottom Line: Can an Elf find his way in the real world? This is a film that shows how funny his first interactions can be.
Elf is one more in a long line of Christmas movies where all of the characters doubt that Santa Claus exists, and one man, woman, or child must convince everyone else that he does. There are of course twists and turns that make this into a movie about something else, but in the end the point of the main character is to save Christmas. It is kind of scary to think how many times Christmas has had to be saved by characters like this because if they hadn't been there who knows what we would be doing on December 25th now. What you don't get from this movie though, is a sense that you are heading in that direction until it gets to the second half of the film. The first half is instead designed to develop the main characters, and give the story something to hang its hat on. For sure it is original in its intent, and I guess I had hoped it would continue on that storyline rather than wrapping up with a happy ending type story.
Recommend this product?
Elf is of course the story of Buddy the Elf, who was a human who had been taken in my Santa and his elves in the North Pole. He was the first human to ever visit the toy shop, and because he had been in an orphanage prior, they decided to allow him to live there and grow up as an Elf. But a human doesn't fit very well in the world of elves. Especially one this big and tall. Over the years he proved to be more of a hindrance to the other elves, and one day it looked like it was time for him to stop trying. Giving up on the pursuit of being the perfect elf, he instead wanted to take the chance to look for his birth Father. So, off to New York City he went, hoping only for the chance to meet the Father that never knew he existed. This is where all of the twists to the story start to come into play, and where his interactions with the real world start to take shape.
Will Ferrell plays Buddy, and he does a good job of being an Elf who has never seen what the rest of the world is like. Everything is new to him, and everything is much faster than how things go in the North Pole. He realizes right away that he is different from everybody else, and that tends to get him in trouble a lot of the time. His goal is of course to find his Dad (played by James Caan), and he sets out on a mission to track him down and hang out with him. Caan works at a childrens book producing company, and isn't a very nice person. You could call him the "Scrooge" character of the film, and Caan lays it really well. But at the same time, this is something that detracts from the film, because Caan needs have a change of heart later on, and his persona doesn't fit what the character has to become. The interactions between Ferrell and Caan are funny, and its also funny to see how Caan reacts to having a son that is an Elf.
Director Jon Favreau (who also did Zathura) is good at working the jokes into the script, and there are a lot of one-liners that people will remember for years from the movie. The script is written with the intent to appeal to a wide audience, and the story is a family-oriented one, that succeeds on the back of being cute and funny. There are times where the innocence of the film could win over just about anybody, but at the same time, it seems like the film has been done before, and in my opinion too many times. Elf is not a very original story in its final concepts, and although Ferrell is funny for a majority of the film, I don't think that it is as outstanding as some viewers have found it. On its own merits this is a pretty average film, but it does have a lot of heart, and the message of always having faith is off course something that more movies need. So, I do end up recommending Elf, but it only gets 3 stars from me.