Elf (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/11/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

That rarest of beasts: an extremely funny Christmas-themed family comedy with a great script and a performance of comedy gold from Will Ferrell.

Comedian Will Ferrell is much better known in the States than he is over here, despite appearances in films such as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and his show-stealing turn in Old School.

All that could be set to change, however, with the timely release of Elf, which is both a terrific showcase for Ferrell’s comic talents and an extremely funny family comedy to boot.

Inside Santas Sack…

Ferrell stars as Buddy The Elf, a human orphan who crawled into Santa’s sack one Christmas Eve and was raised by elves in the North Pole. After an extended comedy routine involving Buddy being too big for his elf surroundings, he is shocked to discover the truth from his adopted elf father, Bob Newheart and sets off to New York to meet his real father, Walter (James Caan), who is, as it turns out, in need of a little Christmas spirit…

Regular cinema-goers will be pleased to know that, for once, the trailer doesn’t give away all the best gags. This is largely because there are so many of them – the script is well written and packed with both good lines and hilarious sight gags. Highlights include: Buddy testing a line of Jack-in-the-boxes; Buddy showing off his snowball-assembly skills; and a confrontation with Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) as a successful children’s author with a chip on his shoulder (“He’s an ANGRY elf…”).

Relentlessly Upbeat Yet Not Nauseating

The performances are excellent, with Ferrell turning in a performance that is pure comedy gold – in the hands of a less likeable actor, his relentlessly upbeat behaviour could have been nauseating (try imagining Jim Carrey or Robin Williams in the role) but he pulls it off brilliantly.

Caan is superb as always, but there’s also good support from Mary Steenburgen as Walter’s wife as well as Zooey Deschanel, who is sadly given far too little to do as Buddy’s love interest Jovie, though she does get to show off her exceptional singing voice (by singing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ in the shower) and in the sweet scene when Buddy tells her she has one of the best voices he’s ever heard it’s hard not to agree with him.

If there’s a flaw in the film it’s only that the grand finale lacks both the suspense and the emotional impact it might have had in the hands of a more skilled director, such as Robert Zemeckis. However, by that time you’ll be so full of good cheer that you’ll be prepared to forgive it.

In short, Elf is perfect family entertainment for Christmas time as there’s plenty here for both kids and adults to enjoy. “Your very good ‘elf”, and other rubbish elf jokes. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Elf (PG)
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Content updated: 17/12/2017 13:48

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