Nice with just a little bit of naughty

Nov. 18, 2003, midnight | By Kate Selby | 20 years, 7 months ago

Elf bridges the gap between adult comedy and children's fantasy

An apparently grown man in yellow tights and black curled shoes screams to a department store Santa, "You sit on a throne of lies!" Shocked children waiting patiently to sit on the lap of their holiday hero stand with gaping mouths at the spectacle that Buddy the Elf (played by Will Ferrell) is making of himself. Through numerous scenes similar in their side-splitting nature but unique in their complicated and hilarious situations, Ferrell dances his way into the hearts of children and parents alike in his new movie, Elf.

Elf is the tale of a young misfit who lives in the North Pole. His journey to New York is instigated when Buddy figures out that his over 6-foot stature is not normal for the usually petite elves and that he is indeed a human. Buddy leaves his home to find his real father, played by James Caan, and to try to figure out where he belongs. His humorous antics (like eating previously chewed gum and playing extensively in a revolving door) sprinkle the plot like newly-fallen snow: fresh and exciting.

The plot of this movie follows the traditional strategy of making kid movies enjoyable to adults through use of jokes that parents get but their children may not. For example, children can appreciate Buddy's comical attempts at dancing in a mail room when he accidentally spikes his own coffee with liquor, thinking it is maple syrup. However, adults can appreciate the extremely well-written script, as Buddy mentions when he first enters the mail room, "This place reminds me of Santa's workshop. Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me."

Elf represents a perfect balance between a slightly sappy holiday story and a hilarious comedy like Old School. The movie is introduced with the familiar logo of New Line Cinema adorned with falling snowflakes, and this theme of cute touches remains consistent throughout. However, secondary plot twists, like Buddy being attacked by a raccoon, keep the movie from going over the top. The only part of the movie which is too syrupy is Buddy's love of maple syrup, which goes so far that he even drizzles it all over his spaghetti.

The other actors in the movie, including Buddy's tolerant stepmother (played by Mary Steenburgh) who eats his syruped-spaghetti, are well-played, but the two that stick out the most are Zooey Deschanel and Bob Newhart, who play Buddy's love interest and adopted father, respectively. Newhart, or "Papa Elf," raised Buddy from infancy and narrates the movie. His stern manner but loving nature are well portrayed. Deschanel sparkles in her role as Jovie, a saleswoman dressed as an elf Buddy meets at a mall. Her shower scene is handled innocently; Buddy only walks into the women's lockeroom to sing along to her holiday song.

Ultimately, Elf is a good dose of holiday cheer and a good laugh, all wrapped up into a hysterical package.

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Kate Selby. Kate Selby is a mean, green, story writing machine! She enjoys rock climbing, yoga, volleyball, writing poetry in her psychological "Zen Zone," and running hurdles. Another hobby which Kate enjoys is laughing at herself, an activity which she pursues quite often as she often does … More »

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