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
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