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Buddy the Elf
Watch this movie with a pizza and a bottle of coke!
‘Elf’ is one of my favourite Christmas movies ever! It’s also one of my Dad’s favourite films since he likes the jazzy-like music featured in it. ‘Elf’ is a 2003 film directed by Jon Favreau. It stars Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf with James Cann as Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s dad. It’s a Christmas film you don’t want to miss!
I didn’t see this movie at the cinema since by that time I’d grown out of watching Christmas films in December. I wish I had seen this film at the cinema, since it turned out to be really good when my Dad purchased the DVD in 2004. It combines the best of Christmas nostalgia in previous movies before it.
‘Elf’ was first released on a 2-disc DVD set with the film on Disc 1 and bonus material on Disc 2. The director Jon Favreau is also an actor since I’ve seen him in the superhero movie ‘Daredevil’. He would later direct films like ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’ and the first two ‘Iron Man’ movies from the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’.
There’s a combination of fantasy and comedy in this film. It starts off with a baby boy crawling into Santa’s bag of gifts one Christmas Eve night. The baby boy soon ends up in the North Pole and is named Buddy by the elves. He’s raised by Papa Elf to become an elf and work inside Santa’s worship.
But as time goes on, Buddy’s human proportions take their toll and he soon realises that he’s not like all the other elves that are smaller than him. Once he discovers the truth, Papa Elf tells Buddy that he was an orphaned child and his dad, Walter Hobbs, lives in New York City, unaware his son was born.
Buddy decides to go on a quest to find his father by journeying from the North Pole to New York City. Thus we enter into the real-life aspects of the movie as Buddy gets to experience what the world of humans is like with comedic proportions. This is where all the jazz and fun comes into place.
I like how the fantastical elements of the North Pole contrast differently to how dull and normal New York City can be at Christmas time. In the North Pole, they have puppet-like animation figures interacting with Buddy such as an arctic puffin; a polar bear cub and a walrus as well as Leon the Snowman.
Will Ferrell is great as Buddy the Elf. This was the first time I saw Will Ferrell in anything film-related. I like the child-like innocence Will Ferrell brings to the role of Buddy. Buddy is curious when he enters the magical world of New York away from the North Pole. He’s also a very kind-hearted person.
Buddy does his best to spread Christmas cheer to everyone. He wants to win the love of his father as well as his family and everyone else. It was fun to see the antics that Buddy gets up to as he visits his Dad at the Empire State Bulding; visits Gimbels; eats a lot of sugary foods and exposes a fake Santa.
James Cann stars as Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s father. Walter works as a children’s book publisher in New York City. He’s also on Santa’s naughty list. Buddy visits him in his office and Walter struggles to believe that this human raised by Santa’s elves is his son. The comedy between the two is hilarious.
Walter gets annoyed when Buddy gets all so childlike. Even when he takes Buddy to his office to watch him, he can’t handle it. Walter tries to sell a new book at his publishing company with some help from another writer. Will Buddy ruin his plans? Will Walter accept him as his son and love him?
The film also stars Zooey Deschanel as Jovie, an unenthusiastic worker dressed up as an elf at Gimbels in New York. Jovie is also Buddy’s love interest in the film. I like Zooey Deschanel’s performance in the movie, since she comes across as someone who soon comes to love Buddy in this.
Zooey Deschanel also has this marvellous singing voice as she happens to be a singer-songwriter as well as an actress. I liked it when Buddy and Jovie go out on a date and they kiss each other whilst ice-skating. It’s a lovely scene with Frank Sinatra’s ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ in the background.
Mary Steenburgen stars as Emily Hobbs, Walter’s wife and Buddy’s stepmother in the film. Now if you recognise Mary Steenburgen, she was in ‘Back to the Future, Part III’ as Doc Brown’s love interest. It was lovely to see her in this film and she comes across as a caring, motherly figure in this.
Emily seems willing to accept Buddy into the family, despite his eccentric elf-like behaviour. I liked the scenes where Walter and Emily discuss about Buddy, since she’s willing to accept him whereas he isn’t. It was funny when Buddy made her a breakfast of spaghetti with syrup in it and she grins and bears it.
Daniel Tay stars as Michael Hobbs, Walter and Emily’s son and Buddy’s young half-brother. I like how Michael develops in the film. He doesn’t like Buddy at first since he finds him weird after drinking a big bottle of coke and giving a long belch afterwards. It’d be very annoyed if Buddy drank all my coke! 😀
But eventually, after Buddy helps him defeat some bullies in a snowball fight, Michael comes to like him and accept him as his brother. They even put up a Christmas tree together. Michael shares with Buddy how he feels about his father and he also helps out in saving Christmas with Santa Claus.
Edward Asner stars as Santa Claus in the film. I like this version of Santa Claus. It’s not very ‘ho-ho-ho’ as you would expect, but he does come across as jolly. He also comes across as very wise. I know that sounds strange, considering Santa Claus is an old man. But he does have this wisdom about him.
I liked it when Santa Claus gives Buddy some tips on what to do when venturing into New York before he goes. I also liked that scene where Santa asks for Buddy’s help. Buddy doesn’t feel like he’s a proper elf, yet Santa gives him some very encouraging words. This makes Santa seem authentic.
Bob Newhart stars as Papa Elf, Buddy’s adoptive father who raises him up in the North Pole. I like how the movie is set up by Papa Elf since he narrates the story at the beginning as well as at the end. I also like the paternal relationship between Papa Elf and Buddy, despite their various sizes in the film.
There’s an intriguing scene between Papa Elf and Buddy in the film where they talk about people not believing in Santa Claus and that the parents put the presents under the tree instead. I know that’s obvious to me now, but to tell that to an audience of children in the cinema must’ve been dodgy. 😀
The film also features Faizon Love as Wanda, the manager of Gimbels; Amy Sedaris as Deb, Walter Hobbs’ secretary; Michael Lerner as Mr. Greenway, Walter’s boss and Artis Lange as the Gimbels Santa. The director Jon Favreau even stars as Dr. Leonardo, the Hobbs’ family pedatrician in the film.
There’s also Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch, a best-selling children’s author in the film (never heard of him! 😀 ) This actor would later star as Trumpkin the Dwarf in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’. I found that scene funny where Buddy called Miles Finch an elf. Mr. Finch is so enraged by that!
In terms of the voice cast, there’s Ray Harryhausen as the Polar Bear Cub and director Jon Favreau as the Baby Walrus, Mr. Narwhal and the Arctic Puffin. There’s also Leon Redbone as Leon the Snowman. Leon Redbone is a jazz singer-songwriter who performs some of the songs in the movie.
Speaking of songs, there’s plenty of jazz-like music in the film which my Dad loves. This includes ‘Pennies From Heaven’ performed by Louis Prima; ‘Sleigh Ride’ performed by Ella Fitzgerald; ‘The Nutcracker’ suite by Brian Setzer; ‘Santa Baby’ by Eartha Kitt (Catwoman from 1960s ‘Batman’), etc.
There’s also a duet of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ sung by Zooey Deschanel with Will Ferrell, which happens when Jovie’s singing in the shower and Buddy’s in the women’s locker room which was funny. The song is performed again by Zooey Deschanel with Leon Redbone during the end credits.
My Dad loved the music in this movie so much that he actually purchased the ‘Elf’ music CD a year later in 2005. We play that CD every Christmas now! The film’s score is composed by John Debney, who’s done plenty of musical scores for films in the past. His music for the opening credits is superb.
The DVD/Blu-ray special features are as follows. There’s an audio commentary with director Jon Favreau as well as an audio commentary with Will Ferrell. There’s also a ‘Fact Track’ info-text commentary option to enjoy.
On the DVD release, the Disc 2 special features are divided into three sections – ‘About Christmas’, ‘All Access Pass’ and ‘FUN N’ GAMES’. In ‘About Christmas’, there’s ‘Kids on Christmas’; ‘Deck the Halls’; ‘Santa Mania’ and ‘Christmas in Tinseltown’. These four special features don’t have any references to ‘Elf’. In ‘All Access Pass’, there’s a theatrical trailer for the film; an ‘ELF Jukebox’ which is my Dad’s favourite bonus feature as it focuses on the jazz music in ‘Elf’; deleted scenes and a ‘behind-the-scenes’ section. The ‘behind-the-scenes’ section includes ‘Tag Along with Will Ferrell’; ‘Film School For Kids’; ‘How They Made The North Pole’; ‘Lights, Camera, Puffin!’ and ‘That’s a Wrap’. Press ‘Play All’ to watch these behind-the-scenes documentaries all in one go. In ‘FUN ‘N’ GAMES’, there’s ‘Elf Karaoke’; a ‘Read-Along’ of ‘Elf: A Short Story of a Tall Tale’ and ‘Buddy’s Adventure Games’. These games include ‘The Race Down MT. Icing’; ‘Snowball Fight’ and ‘Fix Santa’s Sleigh’.
‘Elf’ is a wonderful Christmas film full of fun; Will Ferrell and lots of jazz music. Like I said at the beginning, you need to watch this movie with a pizza and a coke. My parents and I certainly did that one Christmas time and I enjoyed it very much. This is definitely the family Christmas movie for you!
‘Elf’ rating – 10/10
Originally written on the 19th of December 2019.
Last year, I shared my DVD/Blu-ray review on the Christmas film ‘Elf’ starring Will Ferrell. This year, I saw ‘Elf’ on the big screen at my local Showcase Cinema in Nantgarw. My parents and I had a great time seeing it. We didn’t have pizza and coke to watch it but we had a nice Christmas meal at a restaurant.
I also had a hot chocolate and a cookie before going in to see the film on the big screen. I was watching ‘Elf’ at the cinema in one of my Christmas pullovers and was wearing my Santa hat. Even Cuddles and Puddles, my cuddly toy dogs were in Christmas gear. 😀 It was all massive fun to see ‘Elf’ at the cinema.
‘Elf’ remains one of my favourite Christmas films from 2003. It’s amazing that it’s been 16 years since the film was released at cinemas. It doesn’t feel that long ago. Seeing it recently on the big screen was the first time I’d seen it at the cinema. I didn’t see it first time at the cinema. I saw it first time on DVD.
That was back in 2004. The film stands the test of time. The comedy and the jazzy-like music stand up pretty well. I recall people in the audience laughing out loud at the funny stuff. Even someone who came out watching it said they had a good time. It goes to show ‘Elf’ has won many people’s hearts. 🙂
The film’s director Jon Favreau has come a long way since making ‘Elf’. He’s directed ‘Zathura: A Space Adventure’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Iron Man 2’, ‘The Jungle Book’ (2016) and ‘The Lion King’ (2019). He’s also played Happy Hogan in the ‘MCU’. But I still regard him highly directing this amazing Christmas classic.
Seeing ‘Elf’ on the big screen makes a huge difference, especially when you pick out certain details you hadn’t seen before. Having seen the film countless times over Christmas, I knew what the lines were going to be from each character. The comedy moments were still funny as my parents and I saw them.
It was a fun experience with me knowing the film off by heart and watching it on the big screen. I can imagine how people must’ve reacted to this film when they saw it on the big screen back in 2003. It must’ve been a great experience. It does well in combining both nostalgia and modern day at Christmas.
Will Ferrell still excels, giving 100% in his performance as Buddy the Elf. The rest of the cast are equally excellent including James Cann as Walter Hobbs, Zooey Deschanel as Jovie, Mary Steenburgen as Emily, Daniel Tay as Michael, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf and Edward Asner as Santa Claus. It’s all pretty brilliant!
The jazzy music featured in the film still excels in the film. Songs and numbers like ‘Pennies From Heaven’, ‘Sleigh Ride’, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, ‘The Nutcracker Suite’, etc, and the music composed by John Debney still please my Dad. It’s amazing to hear these jazz numbers and it makes me still feel Christmassy as I watch it on the big screen.
It’s still funny seeing Will Ferrell as Buddy call Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch ‘an angry elf’ and getting beaten up by him. The drinking a bottle of coke moment and Buddy burping out long and loud is still very funny. The stuff in the Gimbels store and Buddy revealing a fake Santa is still amusing to see on the big screen.
I reflect on how many Christmas films have been made recently. A lot of them don’t match to the charm and magic that is in ‘Elf’. What makes ‘Elf’ stand out so well is how good-spirited it is. Buddy trying to win his dad’s affection and spreading Christmas cheer to everyone is still very heart-warming.
I’m sure I’ll be seeing ‘Elf’ again soon for future Christmas viewings this year as well as for future years. Whether it’ll be on the big screen; currently on Blu-ray or on TV, I don’t know. But I’m very happy my parents and I saw ‘Elf’ on the big screen lately. It still remains a great Christmas film and one of my favourites!
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