Elf (Infinifilm Edition) (2003)

Elf is genuinely good. Not just Saturday Night Live-movie good, when the movie has some funny bits but is basically an insult to humanity; Elf is a smartly written, skillfully directed, and deftly acted story of a human being adopted by Christmas elves who returns to the human world to find his father. And because the writing, directing, and acting are all genuinely good, Elf is also genuinely funny. Will Ferrell, as Buddy the adopted elf, is hysterically sincere. James Caan, as his rediscovered father, executes his surly dumbfoundedness with perfect aplomb. Zooey Deschanel, as a department store worker with whom Buddy falls in love, is adorably sardonic. Director Jon Favreau (Swingers) shepherds the movie through all the obligatory Christmas cliches and focuses on material that’s sometimes subtle and consistently surprising. Frankly, Elf feels miraculous. Also featuring Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage, and Ed Asner as Santa Claus.

In this delightful new holiday movie, Will Ferrell is an innocent named Buddy who was adopted as a baby by Santa and his elves. Having been raised in the North Pole, Buddy has no idea that he is human. However, when he grows up to be a six-footer, he begins to notice that he is physically different from his fellow elves. Much to his chagrin, Buddy’s skills as a toymaker are a bit substandard. Finally, Papa Elf sends his ingenuous son to New York City to meet his biological father, played by the gruff James Caan.

This is the classic “fish out of water” plot that has been used in countless movies. How will Buddy, conspicuous in his green and yellow elf costume, with a pointy hat and pointy shoes, behave in New York City? How will Buddy’s no-nonsense dad handle the fact that he has fathered a man who thinks he’s an elf?

Predictably, Buddy, in his sweet innocence, has trouble adjusting to life in the big city. He wreaks havoc in a department store, exasperates his father, and soon feels lonely and unwanted. All of this works because the actors, including such seasoned veterans as Bob Newhart and Ed Asner, play it absolutely straight. Fortunately, there are only a few of the cloying scenes that often make holiday movies so difficult to take.

Hats off to the director and the special effects crew for delivering some hilarious sight gags and some cool and magical moments. Go see “Elf” with your kids. It is not great cinema, but I think that you will find this movie engaging and amusing holiday entertainment.

Price: $13.99 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25.

Ships from and sold by Amazon.comElf (Infinifilm Edition) Gift-wrap available.

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