Remember how much you'd hoped Scrooged was going to be the ultimate Christmas comedy, because Bill Murray was going to take the piss out of the holiday season? And how it was just "okay"? Well the disappointment officially ends with Elf, director Jon Favreau's joyous, choke-out-loud Crimbo romp.
Saturday Night Live graduate Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human who's been raised as an elf at the North Pole. A happy chappie who loves all things Christmas but is made an outsider by his ungainly height and lacklustre toy-making skills, he decides to trek to New York to be with his real dad (James Caan). Buddy's boss, Santa (Ed Asner), warns him that his father is a cold-hearted publisher who's permanently on the `Naughty' list, but he sets out nonetheless, arriving in green tights to spread holiday cheer to grumpy New Yorkers...
Poking fun at crass Christmas commercialism, Elf is not your usual fairy-lit, snowflake-puff holiday fare. Instead it offers two perspectives on the Yuletide season - Buddy is full of candy-cane optimism, New York is a jaded city deadened by tinsel-strewn ostentation - - and clashes them together to rich comedy effect. Admittedly the plot eventually hinges on ordinary folks' belief in the man in the red suit but, by then, Ferrell and Favreau have engendered enough goodwill to allow for a finale that glows like winter coals. A gleeful, cracked fairytale.
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