So I finally get around to seeing this after multiple Cinema Cocoa fans ask me to review it.
Oh people will be cross with me.
Buddy is a little too big to be an elf because he is in fact a human being, and when he’s told this he is sent back from the North Pole to the human world… New York to be exact. There he finds his real father, a stick-in-the-mud businessman who has very little Christmas spirit. Will Buddy’s love of Christmas restore his father’s clouded mind?
Well… sort of.
There are classic Christmas films and then there are Christmas films, Elf is a Will Ferrell Christmas film… and honestly he gets my back up at the best of times. He plays Buddy, a man who has been brought up with the mind of a child by Santa’s elf helpers, only to be tossed into New York city on his own. While he revels in eating gum off the street he somehow gets a job in a shopping mall after being mistaken to be a floor assistant in costume (…………….. there’s a massive problem right there, no?) Where he meets Jovie, our love interest for the movie.
For all Ferrell’s mindless antics that are both hit and miss, I understand what Elf wants to be. His father Walter is clearly Scrooge and Buddy’s free spirited, childlike wonder is his only salvation (and Walter is probably the most compelling character) but what the film fails at is making our “New York” characters particularly interesting. The strong character moments that would make this a Christmas classic are pushed aside so Farrell can chew more scenery (literally) and the third act… oh dear. We don’t really want emotional investment, so here’s a sudden, random action sequence instead! Yay?
Ack. A lot of you don’t like me anymore!
I will grant you that Elf is a fun film, and I’d recommend it for all the family and especially for kids. There are some genuinely funny moments that are built up nicely, like when Buddy meets a shopping mall worker dressed up as Santa. You know its going to go badly, and it certainly does! I liked how Santa’s one comment about Buddy’s human father was: “He’s on my naughty list” and how soul destroying this fact is for Buddy. There are lots of funny moments, don’t get me wrong.
Personally it hits right in the middle; its good fun but it isn’t a particularly heartwarming Christmas tale; its an awful lot of by-the-numbers storytelling and faffing around. Perhaps I’m just suffering from the “over-hyped” syndrome?
Additional Marshmallows: My FAVOURITE bit of the movie? Those little stop-frame animated North Pole animals! They were so cute! The little snow puffin thing?? Why weren’t they in the film more, they were great!