Elf tells the story of Buddy, a human adopted and raised by Santa’s elves. After finding out that he was adopted, he goes on a mission to find his real father in New York.
Apart from the main storyline, this movie is also about finding your Christmas cheer and it’s perfect for right now. Christmas this year feels very different from the past ones and this movie is a reminder to find the good about Christmas. From putting up decorations to spending time with family (safely of course).
When this movie came out, Will Ferrel was praised for his performance with many calling it one of his best performances. And while I don’t agree that it’s his best. it is a great performance. Buddy is one of those characters that is one step away from being annoying and he tiptoes that line very well. What makes Buddy and interesting character is his expression of childlike glee and wonder. Buddy is the kid inside of all of us and this movie is able to express that without being too much all the time. And when it does feel like he is too much, the movie pulls back.
The supporting cast does a great job of adding believability and likeability to the movie, except for Walter Hobbs (but that’s the point, until the end at least). I can imagine that a movie like this has some great behind the scenes footage where the actors could not control themselves laughing. It’s one of those movies that look like it was a ton of fun to film.
Jon Favreau’s direction is pretty solid. Considering this was his second directorial project. The jokes are really funny while also being clever and you can tell that Jon Favreau gave the actors time and space to do their thing. And it works. The writing is both charming and silly and doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is what I love about it.
This movie is like the physical embodiment of Christmas. There is something Christmas-y in almost every shot, which makes sense given the context and story of the movie and I kind of love it.
The CGI in the movie is very minimal. Rather than rely on CGI wich Jon Favreau fought for, the movie used forced perspective to exaggerate the size of Buddy compared to other elves. And I think it works more than CGI would have.
The soundtrack for this movie is top-notch. Ray Charles, Eartha Kitt and Lena Horne? That sounds like a win to me! No, for real though the songs on the soundtrack are quintessential Christmas song and manage to capture the essence of both the season and the movie. From Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow to Baby, It’s Cold Outside and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, I kept singing along yo everything.
Elf is one of those movies that leaves a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside and given how this year has gone, a movie about finding your Christmas spirit is what I needed. The film is well-written and the jokes still hit almost 20 years later. There is a reason that this movie is at the top of a lot of people Christmas movie lists.
Originally published at https://www.thecinematicaficionado.com on December 10, 2020.