“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.” – Buddy
Before we begin, can I just say how much I love the quote from Buddy above? I’m Scottish, and it is scary how similar this is to my own main food groups: chips, sugar, batter, and take-away. A mate of mine (also Scottish) once said he drinks Corona because the slice of lime in it counts towards his 5 pieces of fruit and veg a day. That’s the kind of health-conscious people we are, so to see Buddy taking such a similar brazen approach to his diet is just one of the myriad reasons I love him to bits.
It seems quite apt that, following on from yesterday’s article, today’s movie also centers around an elf trying to make his way in a big city, albeit for entirely different reasons to Dudley Moore’s inebriated Patch. I still love ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’, but while it is slightly off-key, ‘Elf’ hits every note pitch-perfectly and to me is one of the most hilarious and enjoyable Christmas movies of the past decade or so.
Will Ferrell will surely be remembered as one of the greatest comedy actors of our generation. Anyone who grew up during the period of ‘Anchorman’, ‘Old School’, ‘Zoolander’, and ‘Blades of Glory’ will have a smile on their face just reading that list of films and thinking about there favourite quotes. (Actually, one of my favourite things Will Ferrell has ever done was playing The Architect from ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ in a parody for the MTV Movie Awards in 2003 – check it out here if you’ve never seen it before…)
His child-like naivety as Buddy the Elf is both endearing and also strangely authentic, and he brings such a warmth to character that you are genuinely rooting for him the first time you meet him. The rest of the cast are just as charming – James Caan as Buddy’s estranged father, Mary Steenburgen as Caan’s overly-accepting wife – even the traditionally annoying kid brother character is surprisingly palatable.
And then there’s Zooey. Oh, Zooey. I don’t care if it makes me the most clichéd indie boy on the planet – she is absolutely adorable and has been my major crush since the first time I saw her in a fleeting role in 2001’s ‘Almost Famous’. Her deadpan and insular Jovie (Jon Bon?) is the perfect foil to Buddy’s hyperactive and innocent character, and the scene where she sings an unsuspecting duet with Buddy in the shower is still one of my renditions of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’.
“Excuse me, but shouldn’t you be sitting on top of the tree, Angel?” 🙂
It’s easy to be cynical with a film like this that is quite syrupy (and candy corny! heyoo!) in places, but if you just go with it, it is impossible not to be filled with Christmas cheer by the time the film finishes. It is a brilliant example of a simple story executed exceptionally, cast perfectly, with just the right amount of humour and emotion to balance it out, and which plays to both child and audiences at the same time.
And, as such, ‘Elf’ takes the bronze medal position in our ’12 Films of Christmas’ blog. Two more days to go, and then Santa will be here…
“SANTA! OH MY GOD! SANTA’S COMING! I KNOW HIM! I KNOW HIM!”