Photo: Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema
“Elf” (2003) is a classic Christmas film that is rewatched every year by many; and if you can believe it, it has been 20 years since the festive holiday movie came out. The movie’s concept is pretty goofy when you think about it, as it centers around Buddy (Will Ferrell), an “elf” raised by Papa Elf, but he’s not like every other elf at the North Pole: he’s human. As a baby, Buddy was accidentally transported to the North Pole and was then raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves. Unsurprisingly, Buddy can’t shake the feeling that he “does not belong,” which causes him to go out into the real world — specifically New York City — to find his birth father.
Due to his upbringing, Buddy is extremely childlike, so his adjustment to the “real world” is laughable. Because of this, his stern, businessman father initially wants nothing to do with him. At first, he does not even believe Buddy is his child. From here the movie truly begins, with Buddy trying to learn how to behave according to what is “socially acceptable” while simultaneously getting his family to embrace the Christmas spirit and rediscover the joy of the holiday season. The movie is quite chaotic due to Buddy’s clear confusion and misunderstanding of what is acceptable in the real world. Still, it’s admittedly hilarious while also heartwarming at the same time — which is the case with pretty much any film starring Will Ferrell.
A common theme in many Christmas movies is that of redemption and the importance of the holidays and family or community. See, for example, the many movies that follow the story of Ebenezer Scrooge — a character from Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” (1843) — who is initially an exploitative, stingy rich man who, of course, at the end of the movie, learns the true meaning of Christmas. On the other hand, the difference between “Elf” and many other well-known Christmas movies is that the central theme is comedy. Although the movie most certainly includes other elements, “Elf” is mostly known for its comedy and ridiculousness. Putting the plot aside, just seeing a 6-foot-3 Will Ferrell in an elf costume acting like a preposterous child is enough to get a laugh out of anyone. Interestingly enough, according to a Business Insider article, Jim Carrey reportedly almost played the character of Buddy. Considering Buddy is one of Will Ferrell’s most famous characters he’s played, it is intriguing to think about how different the movie could have been with an alternative actor.
“Elf” is the kind of movie that both children and adults alike enjoy. It’s entertaining and fast-paced enough for a kid, but still interesting and comedic for an adult. Plus, no matter your views on whether the movie is good or not, it’s simply a classic. Considering the 20th anniversary of the movie just passed, it’s no surprise that “Elf” is being shown in theaters again for the holiday season. It’s a favorite among many and it would be a treat to see in the movie theater, or even just to rent or stream at home.
Ava Werner is a third-year Psychology major with a minor in Women’s & Gender Studies. AW973732@wcupa.edu.