Elf tells the story of a human (Will Ferrell) who has been raised by Santa’s elves in the North Pole. The human, believing he is an elf named Buddy, has now grown up and is finding life in the North Pole a little awkward. Upon learning of his true origins, he decides to travel to New York City to find his father (James Caan). As ridiculous as it may sound, the movie actually works as it is played firmly tongue-in-cheek, with a knowing wink towards any audience member north of ten years old.
Best known for his roles in MTV’s Matrix Reloaded spoof, and the movies ‘Zoolander’ and ‘Old School’, Will Ferrell is quickly becoming the funniest man in movies. He spent seven years on U.S. comedy sketch show, Saturday Night Live, creating hilarious caricatures of a broad range of (in)famous personalities such as George ‘Dubya’ Bush.
Directed by John Favreau, who starred in ‘Swingers’ and ‘Daredevil’, Elf is this years best Christmas film. Children will love it for its sheer sense of fun, while most adults will be won over by the hilarity of Buddy’s fish-out-of-water misadventures. The physical comedy from Ferrell is reminiscent of Jim Carrey albeit slightly more restrained. A simple change in facial expression, and Ferrell will have anyone with any sense of humour howling with laughter. Indeed some of the funniest moments come from James Caan as he struggles to come to terms with the apparent ‘insanity’ of his long lost son. Best know for his role as Sonny Corleone in ‘The Godfather’, it is a joy to see him flexing his comedic muscles with such success.
The only complaint I have about Elf is the failure to keep both sides of the audience happy until the very end. This is perhaps irrelevant though because, as a kids Christmas treat, this movie can only really end one way. With the last twenty minutes, the children will be satisfied, and the adults will feel as if they have overdosed on sickly sweet sentimentality. This is by far the best option for anyone looking for some cinematic cheer this Christmas.
3.5 out of 5