Day 5: Elf
How could we possibly write this list without Elf? We couldn’t!
Elf is the family holiday classic from 2003 that captivated audiences for 15 years. The film is directed by Jon Favreau, before he became the go-to-guy for genre films after crafting the Iron Man films. Elf landed in his career early and was tasked with creating a believable story about an elf, who is actually human, in search of his father. Favreau’s best result was finding balance between Christmas for adults vs. Christmas for kids.
Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the Elf fully embracing what makes him a great comedian. Ferrell is sincere in his performance that embraces the wonders of childhood, never lost to an elf, and his slapstick style makes some great moments. But, further Buddy needs to learn what it means to be human and live more like a human for the first time, which Ferrell pushes to a very emotional place. This pushes the story from a slapstick Christmas joke and turns it into a family holiday moment. Buddy’s father, Walter, has a son and a wife who try to embrace Buddy’s quirks while Walter works hard to push Buddy away. The cast is the secret sauce to this movie, featuring James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Mary Steenburgen, and Zooey Deschanel. All allow Ferrell to own the comedy, so most play his “straight-man” in scenes. Thusly, the film doesn’t become too over-the-top.
The film is best known for iconic lines. For example –
Buddy the Elf Saves Christmas
The story boils down to a man trying to connect with his father and the typical Christmas story of trying to save Christmas. Modern Santa films are focused on the idea that people have lost Christmas spirit and so his magic is waning. The cynical approach to Christmas has always been a part of the cinematic storytelling surrounding the holiday. Adults just don’t have time to be kids. this is why Buddy the Elf, a grown-adult, being such a child in a world that doesn’t appreciate his Christmas spirit makes people love it all the more. The balance between fantasy and reality that is reached by the end reminds the characters and audience of the reason for the season, even if just for a little while.
The elf is all of us has put this movie on the map – and on so much merchandise! There is a lot to love about the simple story of an human elf who finds his family and helps Santa save Christmas.
What’s your favorite line from Elf? Share in the comments!
Check out our full 12 Days of Christmas Movies list!