Elf (2003)

I had never seen Elf.

Honestly, I was not in a big hurry to watch it wither. You see, I am not a big fan of Will Farrell and this felt like just more of the same. I have liked a few of Farrell’s films, but not enough to search out any past films of his to watch.

Some of my 7th grade students found out that I had not seen Elf just today, and they were shocked. Then, tonight, I was listening to the Top 10 Show with John Rocha and Matt Knost and they each had Elf at their number one on their lists of Christmas films from the 21st Century. I had thought that I would eventually watch the film, so I decided I would watch it tonight. Get it out of the way.

I was thoroughly thrilled and unbelievably charmed. I see what everybody has been saying. Elf is wonderful.

Will Farrell played Buddy the Elf, a human baby who accidentally winds up in Santa’s (Ed Asner) sack and returns with him to the North Pole. Once there, Buddy is given to Papa Elf (Bib Newhart) to raise. Papa Elf does all he can for Buddy, but it soon becomes clear that Buddy was not a regular elf.

Once he discovered the truth, Buddy is told about his real father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), an executive at a publishing house in New York, who had no idea that he was Buddy’s father… or that Buddy even existed. So, Buddy took off from the North Pole to go to New York and find his father. One problem. According to Santa, Buddy’s father was on the naughty list.

This is the best performance I have ever seen given by Will Farrell. One of my issues with him is that he is too chaotic as an actor. I have found him loud and really playing the same character. However, I found this to be the most subtle and in control Will Farrell has been. Buddy was so filled with innocence and a joy of the unfamiliar world that was unfolding before his eyes, and Will Farrell brought this to this character in spades. He was totally charming and easy to love and I couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying the performance.

The film was really funny as well. I found myself laughing out loud throughout the movie. Again, I have always found Will Farrell humor to be forced and unfunny. This was not how I found Elf. It was such an easy watch and so light and pleasant. I had a big smile on my face the entire time and even had a few tears in my eyes at the end.

Elf was not perfect, but I thought it was near so. The one area that felt rushed was how quickly Walter turned from angry, negligent father who wanted no part of Buddy, to father who is willing to leave his job to find his oldest son. It did not feel gradual. It felt like a switch was thrown and that was the one area that I had a problem with.

That was about it for negatives. Everything else worked extremely well and I could not believe how much I loved this movie.

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