We Love… Christmas: ‘Elf’

Illustration by Adeline Pericart

 

Throughout December we’ll be adding more Christmas films we love – so keep an eye on the website and feel free to add any of your own…

 

Elf

Charlene Lydon

Before taking on the might of Marvel with his Iron Man films, Jon Favreau created another type of super hero: a Christmas hero, Buddy the elf. Christmas movies are like coffee shops, there are millions of them but only a very select few good ones! Elf was released in 2003 and became an instant classic. Now only seven years later it is a mainstay on the shelf of every Christmas enthusiast.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Buddy (Will Ferrell) is one of Santa’s elves, but he’s twice as tall as his colleagues, he’s not as swift and doesn’t have the same toy-making instincts that they do. That is because he is not an elf at all he is a human who sneaked into Santa’s sack as a baby and was raised by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) as his own. Buddy soon finds out the truth and is horrified to find that his real father is (Shock! Horror!) on the Naughty List. Determined to change his father’s ways, Buddy sets off for New York. Of course, his curmudgeonly father Walter (James Caan) is less than pleased to see him and sends him on his way but soon learns that Buddy is his responsibility and allows him to stay with his kind, but neglected family. Buddy secures a job as a department store elf, what else, and even falls in love with fellow charlatan elf, Jovie (Zooey Deschanel).

Through the eyes of the naïve and big-hearted Buddy, the audience is allowed to revel in the delights of Christmas time. We can tolerate the tacky decorations, the gaudy lights, the overbearing chirpiness and enjoy it for what it is: an excuse to have a lovely time for a few days of the year. Buddy’s unflappable good spirit is contagious and it infects not only the characters in the film, but also the audience. Will Ferrell’s Buddy is a wonderful creation indeed! He is lovably annoying and a delightful representation of how to be uncynical about Christmas, something people find more and more difficult these days. Will Ferrell has never been funnier or more likeable than in Elf. He plays to his strengths and pulls off a role that could very easily be kind of creepy.

The wonderful thing about Elf is its sheer unabashed cheerfulness and romanticism. It’s also hilariously funny, family friendly and just naughty enough to wink at the grown-ups at times. A classic!

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