Elf review by Tom Blain

Big Laughs; Good Spirit

Through out the country, critics are jumping on the hyper-praise bandwagon en route to The Elf. Some even go as far to say that it has the type of yule-tide legs to become one of the great Christmas classics, like A Christmas Story and Its a Wonderful Life. Lets not get too excited. While I am a big fan of Will Ferrell, through good and bad, I think its a little early to declare The Elf as the next Christmas classic. There are laughs, there is plenty of Christmas spirit, but classic is a word I am cautious to throw around.

Dont get me wrong, there is plenty here to enjoy. The story starts in the North Pole where Santa accidentally brings back an orphan from his Christmas Eve run. Instead of returning the baby, he decides to let one of the elves raise him (ever so cheery Bob Newhart). Buddy (Will Ferrell) is the end result: a six-foot plus man-elf, full of hyper-activity and Christmas spirit. Eventually he ventures out to find his real father in New York City. Buddy soon learns that the happy mood the North Pole is no where to be found in cutthroat New York; especially from his hardworking, business like father (James Caan).

Ferrells nave and boisterous elf is a conglomerate of some of his wacky SNL characters (I am reminded instantly of his Spartan Cheerleader bit). To his credit, I dont think anyone could have done a funnier job. Also to his credit, Ferrell delivers comedy that is uncharacteristically low on dirty gags (ie, this is the first movie I can remember in a while where he doesnt bare his ass). While these dirty gags are moments I usually enjoy, there is a time and a place and a homey Christmas movie is neither. Its quite a breadth of fresh air to realize that Ferrell doesnt need to rely on these types of gags to get a laugh.

Like a number of great Christmas films, the theme of this one is redemption: in this case Buddys father. Caan is best known for flying off at the handle in a number of his grumpy movies (Sonny Corrleone beating someone with a garbage can comes immediately to mind). Caan is far from calm or happy, but plays grumpy in a reserved controlled way. He is part Grinch and part Scrooge, but never nasty: just a man that through hours of over-time, has lost sight of the Christmas spirit and the love of his family.

All in all, this is a good new movie to see to get a few laughs and to start off the holidays on the right foot. A clever cameo by Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Storys Ralphie) goes a long way in paying homage to the big boys. In the end, it just feels a little too heavy handed and not original enough to be anything more than another good Christmas movie; not that there is anything wrong with that. During Christmas time, you can never have enough good Christmas movies.




7 out of 10 Jackasses
blog comments powered by Disqus