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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Retro Review: Elf (2003)

Elf
2003
Cast: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zoey Deschanel, Mary Steenbergen, Bob Newhart
Genre: Christmas Fantasy Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $220 million

Plot: After inadvertently wrecking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S in search of his true identity






'Express Your Elf'

A Christmas comedy steeped in tradition but also given the Will Ferrell treatment through his brand of comedy and humour, Elf sees the former Saturday Night Live comic unleash his child-like side as man-child Buddy seeks out what is his true worth as an elf.


Elf is more of a comedy about Christmas and less so a Christmas comedy and it's still an enjoyable romp.

Years before he established himself in the Daddy's Home movies, Ferrell starred in this festive comedy directed by actor Jon Favreau, who also gave us Iron Man & Chef. Raised as an elf, Buddy Hobbs was once a baby who found himself in Santa's toy sack and inadvertently into the North Pole. He grew up into a not so bright elf, but when he discovers he is human and not an elf, he goes in search for his biological father named Walter Hobbs, in the hopes of reconnecting with him. Walter, on the other hand, thinks Buddy is a bit of a nutter and thus, he is dismissed by pretty much everyone he meets. But Buddy is not going to give up in winning over Walter, Walter's son and wooing a love interest: a fellow store worker played by Blonde-haired Zooey Deschanel. 


Elf is a cartoon-like caper fish out of water tale come to life, which is also mixed in with animated stop-motion sequences that look terrific and the sight of Ferrell parading himself in yellow tights and Green elf suit & his cheerful demeanour as Buddy, is bemusing. 

& yet Elf is not quite the laugh fest I've come to expect and it doesn't topple Jingle All The Way, as far as festive comedy movies go as the comedy just wasn't always there & for me it doesn't feel as fun as that Arnold Schwarzenneger flick and the third and final act does make the film lose some steam, but it does have an endearing Holiday charm and spirit that illicit Christmas time that is very innocent and clean. The maple syrup with spaghetti thing was just too weird for my tastes though.

In the hands of any other director but Jon Favreau and star Will Ferrell, Elf would have been a complete bomb and it just wouldn't be anywhere as watchable. The film borrows a few ideas from other Christmassy movies, but the end product is more endearing, which is no bad thing and is less comedic. I will say that it has its heart in places, and the comedy was okay in places but it was inconsistent, whilst the story needed to be stronger and more convincing. 






Final Verdict
:
 

I am a tad disappointed that it wasn't as entertaining as I'd wanted and expected, given how well it did at the box office initially, but nonetheless, when it comes to capturing the festive spirit and feeling more Christmassy, Elf succeeds in that respect. 


As a comedy, it needed to have been better and yet it is mildly amusing, but the rest of the film ranged from okay to good with the schmaltz levels kept to a low. 


You really need to be able to tolerate Will Ferrell to dig this one, although he also deserved a slightly more meaningful and funnier script to go along with his performance & the heartwarming feel it evokes.


Elf is nice, endearing with clean humour that encapsulates what Christmas is about, but it is Will Ferrell who makes it worth seeing and as it is the ideal setup for his schtick. Elf is one of those movies that kind of sits there, but also it's not crap or bad. 


Still, given that Christmas movies have gotten lamer and worse since the early 2000s, but for 1 or 2 exceptions, Elf is still my favourite festive film of the 21st Century by a long distance. 


Overall:




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