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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Elf

Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan
Director: Jon Favreau
Rated: PG
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genres: Comedy, Christmas, Family

*Also starring: Edward Asner, Patrick Baynham, Annie Brebner, Mary Steenburgen, Daniel Tay, Michael Roberds, Luke Pohl, Bob Newhart, Faizon Love

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
3.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
4.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

So are what the four basic food groups? Well, as any elf knows, they are: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. If you thought ELF, by director Jon Favreau (MADE), might be cause for sugar overload, you'd be wrong. Sure it's sweet, but it's never cloying. A hilariously funny and absolutely precious family film, ELF is lots of fun even if you don't have any kids to take along. After seeing the movie with several adults, none less than fortysomething, we had a blast on the way home in the van, remembering the times when we laughed the most.

ELF stars Will Ferrell as the adorable Buddy. Ferrell is a good comedian who frequently gets parts, as in OLD SCHOOL, that aren't quite right for him. ELF is a movie that seems tailor-made for his comedic schtick. The plot has human orphan Buddy being raised by elves at the North Pole. Way too big for his work environment, Buddy is sent to New York City by Santa Claus (Edward Asner). Santa wants Buddy to meet the father (James Caan) he never knew, but Santa warns Buddy that his father is on the official Naughty List. Buddy's mother died long ago, and his father isn't aware that they had a child together.

In this fish-out-of-water story, Buddy, a man who acts like a child, ends up getting a job working in the Christmas department of a large store. While working there, he finds his first girlfriend in Jovie (Zooey Deschanel, the sarcastic clerk in THE GOOD GIRL). Jovie doesn't take her job nearly as seriously as Buddy does. His overnight makeover for the Xmas department includes reproducing the Mona Lisa with an Etch-a-Sketch and creating the New York skyline with Lego blocks.

Buddy has a child-like innocence and amazement with the world. When he sees a cheap cafe featuring the "world's best coffee," he stops in to congratulate the establishment on their award, as the patrons stare in utter disbelief. And, although Santa warned him that the stuff stuck on the ground is gum and not free candy, he can't help trying it.

The supporting cast is all good, with the biggest surprise coming from THE STATION AGENT's star, Peter Dinklage. I will not give away what part this extra short actor plays, but it is definitely not an elf.

You never know about the power of marketing, but I still have trouble believing that even an aggressive campaign by a syrup company will be able to sell Buddy's new favorite breakfast to the public. Pouring heavy syrup over spaghetti with tomato sauce is a breakfast that even a toddler would have trouble liking. This good-spirited, crowd-pleaser of a picture is something that you will have no trouble loving. Our packed audience certainly did.

ELF runs 1:35. The film is rated PG for "some mild rude humor and language" and would be acceptable for all ages.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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