Twelve Days of Christmas Review #1: Elf (2003)

Also starring: Zooey Deschanelf

Subgenre:  Comedy / Family

Summary:  A human who was raised by elves journeys to New York to meet his biological father.

Review:  Elf begins with a prologue that tells us the origin story of Buddy, a New York orphan who accidentally stowed away with Santa as a baby.  Raised by the elves of the North Pole, Buddy is unable to fit in due to his relatively large size, resulting in a handful of funny sight gags.  When he meets his biological father, a Scrooge-like children’s book publisher, Buddy does his best to get him off the naughty list and reintroduce him to the Christmas spirit.

Elf is likable enough, but it’s also completely predictable. It’s at its strongest (and funniest) when it focuses on Buddy as a fish out of water, but stumbles when it tries for sentiment in its second half. The final act, involving an effort to repair Santa’s broken sleigh, feels thrown-together and fails to generate any real wonder.  Supporting performances (including Peter Dinklage in a small role) are solid across the board, but the movie belongs to Will Ferrell.

The Verdict:  Elf is as fleetingly pleasant as a snowflake landing on your tongue.  I give it six innocent imps out of ten.

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