Elf (2003) – Film Review

Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human brought up in the North Pole in a community of elves...

David Berenbaum-penned Elf follows Buddy (Will Ferrell)’s journey to New York city where he hopes to find his father and the truth about his parentage. Having been brought up by elves he believes he is part of their bloodline until he overhears rumours that he is in fact human. Leaving behind Santa’s toy factory and the world he knows and loves he discovers a world of wonder, taxis and maple syrup flavoured spaghetti.

Much in the same vein as other Ferrell classics, the film draws much of its laughs from the situations its central character (usually a socially (for want of a better word) retarded individual)) finds himself in. Mild-mannered and good-humoured throughout, Elf is innocently good fun and, apart from Buddy’s gigglesome elf gags made at Peter Dinklage’s expense, manages to achieve its laughs without the ruthless insults of its peers.

Zooey Deschanel stars as the film’s love interest but is somewhat underutilised in favour for the jokes made at Buddy’s fish-out-of-water scenes. In Buddy Ferrell presents a hugely likeable character who helps create the framework for a refreshingly unique festive film. The film only falls down when it tries to be overly sentimental (we point here to scenes such as that which tries to reignite New Yorkian’s belief in Santa). Although it sometimes seems to struggle to single out its target audience (is it a children’s film? Does it want to be solely adult-friendly?) it overcomes its barriers to provide an enjoyable Christmas romp.

In Elf director Jon Favreau (perhaps best known for dating Friends’s Monica as millionaire Pete Becker) presents an accessible and, most importantly, fun film which is thanks mainly to the hugely likeable character found in Ferrell’s child-brained Buddy.

Best line: ‘We elves try to stick to the four main food groups; candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup’.
Best bit: When Buddy first arrives in New York.
Watch this if you liked
Big, Step Brothers

Jim Carrey was set to play Buddy when the idea for the film was first pitched in 1993.

Bradley says: ‘One of the best Christmas films to be made in the last decade. Unique and reminiscent of 80’s humour, Elf provides plenty of laughs.’

Discussion feed

Up next in movies