Will Ferrell’s over-the-top performance in Elf is one of the reasons why the comedy has managed to stand the test of time.
After Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) lets us in on the backstory, the Jon Favreau-directed film gets the ball rolling. We learn that Buddy (Will Ferrell) is the first human being to set foot in the North Pole. Unfortunately for Buddy, he doesn’t quite have the same speed as his fellow Elves. Demoted to the duty of toy tester, Buddy overhears somebody saying that Buddy doesn’t know he’s human. Papa Elf finally tells him what he should have said years ago. Walter Hobbs (James Caan) and Susan Wells are his biological parents. While Susan has since passed away after giving him up, Walter lives in New York and works at the Empire State Building.
When Buddy arrives in New York, he finds his cynical father. Walter thinks that Buddy is some sort of joke and thinks he should go back to Gimbels. Gimbels manager Wanda (Faizon Love) thinks Buddy is an actual employee and orders him back to work. Lucky for Buddy, he meets Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), giving this fantasy comedy a hint of romance. Anyway, Buddy becomes over-excited to hear that Santa will be arriving in Santa Land the next day. With nowhere to go, Buddy spends the night to get ready for Santa’s arrival. Unfortunately for Buddy, the Gimbels Santa (Artie Lange) is a fake and things soon get out of hand. Thus, we have one of the best GIFs ever!
Off to jail because of what happened, it’s Walter who ends up bailing him out. Maybe he’s having doubts but Walter decides to have Buddy undergo a DNA test. All without going on Maury!
The best thing that happens when Walter brings Buddy home to his step-mom, Emily (Mary Steenburgen), and half-brother, Michael (Daniel Tay), is brother bonding time. Buddy has a way of lifting up Michael’s spirits. Meanwhile, things aren’t going well at work and Miles Finch (Peter Dinklage) is brought on to write a children’s book. Buddy gonna Buddy so his dad disowns him and he leaves to find his purpose in life. While Walter found Buddy’s notebook and is all set to pitch, Michael bombards him with the bad news: BUDDY IS MISSING!
Thus, our Elf adventure soon heads into the climactic third act: the Central Park Rangers, Santa, and New York 1’s Charlotte Denon (Claire Lautier), who wants a Tiffany engagement ring and for her boyfriend to stop dragging his feet and commit already.
When we think of the great Will Ferrell performances, there are two that stand out. One is his role as newscaster Ron Burgundy in Anchorman. The other is his over-the-top performance as Buddy in Elf. There’s nobody else who can bring such joy and cheer to this role. If there’s someone who can do justice in the same way as Will Ferrell, please tell me. Come to think of it, it’s a tragedy that the funnyman was robbed of an Oscar nomination. This speaks to just how much comedy films get annually robbed by the Academy.
I’m Jewish so it’s very easy to feel left out during this time of year with the avalanche of Xmas movies and music. Maybe it’s because of Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel but Elf is one of the few comedies that I’ll make a point to watch on television. Some 15 years following its theatrical release, the film holds up quite well.
Elf: Buddy’s Sing and Cheer Edition Special New Interactive Features:
- Sing Along version – Follow Buddy’s elf cap as it bounces over the lyrics when one of the glorious and goofy songs comes on.
- Buddy’s Best Lines – As Buddy blurts and bellows his lines, watch the words dash, dance and scream on screen.
- Buddy’s Big Book of Elf Culture – Be tickled by entries and anecdotes from his Big Book of Elf Culture, everything from toy-making tips to popular elfin dance steps.
- Sweet Treats – Throughout the movie you will be treated to Buddy’s recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- The Clausometer – Track Buddy’s holiday spirit every time you see the Clausometer in the corner of the screen.
- Buddy’s Buddies – During special moments in the movie, one of Buddy’s North Pole playmates will animate on screen.
- Fun Facts and Trivia – Amusing factoids randomly pop-up with tidbits on Buddy’s humorous and heartwarming adventure.
Previously Released Special Features:
- Commentaries by Will Ferrell and Jon Favreau
- Deleted/alternate scenes
- Nine featurettes including Tag Along with Will Ferrell, Film School for Kids, How They Made the North Pole, Kids on Christmas, Santa Mania, and more.
DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau
SCREENWRITER: David Berenbaum
CAST: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, with Edward Asner and Bob Newhart