North Star Christmas Movie Picks: Elf (2003) Movie Review


Will Ferral, pictured as Buddy The Elf. Photo Credit: Dominic Comfort

Dominic Comfort, Editor-In-Chief

A long-storied Christmas tradition has been grabbing your friends and family and cozying-up to soak in a Christmas classic, all whilst the snow trickles down and the wind bites around us outdoors. Arguably the newest of all the ‘Christmas classics’ is the 2003 comedy Elf, directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferral as Buddy The Christmas Elf. Elf was released on November seventh 2003, and grossed $220 worldwide

The film opens detailing Buddy’s back-story, and first shows a young baby crawling into Santa’s (played by Ed Asner) sack, while Santa delivers gifts to an orphanage. Unbeknownst to Santa, the small child hitches a ride back to the North Pole. Despite him being a human, the elves at the North Pole take Buddy in, and raise him as an elf. Throughout his childhood, Buddy grows up around the innocence and fluff of Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. As Buddy grows, he realizes he does not have the natural skill or talent required to be an elf. Eventually, Buddy overhears a conversation between Papa Elf (played by Bob Newhart) and Santa, revealing that he is in fact human after all.

Following his newfound revelation, Buddy sets off on an adventure to New York City, to find his real father. Lots of comical moments ensue however, as Buddy is only accustomed to living his sheltered life at the North Pole. Buddy finds his father, businessman Walter Hobbs (played by James Caan), who is a mean-spirited and dysfunctional father that dislikes Christmas. Throughout the film, Buddy bonds with his father, and helps him to bring their family together, as they both learn to accept each other. Eventually, Santa’s sleigh crashes down in New York City during the finale of the movie. Buddy is able to help Santa re-launch his sleigh into the sky, after convincing the residents of New York to believe in Santa Claus, and show their Christmas spirit. This, in-turn, further cements Buddy’s bond with his biological father Walter, and helps them to come together as a family.

Performance-wise, Ferral shines throughout the film. It is easy to see why Elf  is considered a classic when you take into account Ferral’s absolutely star-studded performance. Ferral repeatedly captures the innocence and misguided well-meaning nature of a Christmas elf raised in isolation hitting a place like New York City for the first time. This creates many memorable moments such as Buddy calling out a mall Santa as a fake and fraud, and stating directly to him that “You sit on a throne of lies.” There are many other examples of Ferral shining through his role, and creating memorable moments and quotes to live on many years strong.

The supporting cast does a great job, as Caan’s character Hobbs shines through as a direct contrast to Buddy, creating lots of comical moments. Zooey Deschanel plays the role of Jovie, Buddy’s love interest, very well, as she acts as a quirky yet uninterested mall employee. Deschanel and Ferral have noticeable on screen chemistry, and this adds to the film’s authenticity. Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, Ed Asner as Santa Claus, and Faizon Love as the manager of Gimbles all shine through as supporting roles.

Overall the film benefits greatly from a phenomenal script as well as star-studded classic performances. The use of practical affects lends to the film’s old-school classic feeling, despite it being from 2003. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the film blends well with the child-like nature of the North Pole scenes, and helps to create a wonderfully comedic Christmas atmosphere. The lessons tied together at the end of Elf show why family is important, and why Christmas is important for bringing families together. Overall, upon viewing Elf, It is a great and highly recommended watch, and very easy to see why it is considered by many to be ‘The newest Christmas Classic.’

This article was a part of the North Star Staff’s Christmas Movie Picks series, where each staff member wrote an article on their favorite Christmas movie. you can view the other articles here: Chris’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas review: 

Makayla’s Polar Express review:

Merry Christmas!