In Brief: I didn’t like the film. Even close. But it’s a big Christmas favorite. If Elf is one of yours, and you’ve ever wanted to see it in a theater now is your chance. It’s playing in two Portland area theaters.
Elf fanatics this one is for you. The movie is in theaters again for a limited release. It’s been 15-years since Will Farrell did Elf and moved from just making comedy movies to being a comedy movie legend whose films are an almost automatic box office hit.
In the lists compiled by various publications on the most popular Christmas movies, Elf always finds its way into the top-10. Most have the movie in the five best. I’m not a Farrell fan. I guess I can see what makes him popular with the masses and what makes this movie his most popular film ever.
The premise is clever. Somehow orphan baby Buddy slips into Santa’s bag and ends up living at the North Pole among the elves and Santa himself. One day it becomes necessary for Buddy to find his roots, his real father and family. So he’s sent on his quest and arrives in New York City at the heart of the Christmas season.
James Caan plays Buddy’s father, Mary Steenburgen his stepmom and Zooey Deschanel is a disinterested Christmas display worker who becomes Buddy’s love interest.
Elf subtly pushes the importance of the spirit of Christmas. It’s something very lost on a lot of us during the holidays. And it is a theme presented throughout the film before finally hammering it on our heads at the climax.
Much of the hammering is done through Ferrell’s babbling. When he’s super silly, Ferrell — at least to me — is more irritating than funny. It’s the Jerry Lewis thing. If you don’t know who he is ask your grandparents. And if you don’t know, then maybe calling it the Adam Sandler thing is a better example.
Like Ferrell, Lewis and Sandler are superb actors when given a chance to really act. Same with Ferrell. His best films are when he plays it straight.
After half-an-hour of Ferrell’s non-stop and not all that funny blathering, I started looking at my watch. How long is this movie? It’s 97-minutes or — in my book — one-hour too long.
Ferrell’s jabbering hammering didn’t work for me in 2003 and doesn’t work for me today. I’m in the minority. It likely worked for you in 2003 and will likely work for you today.
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Will Farrell, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, Michael Lerner, Andy Richter, Leon Redbone, Ray Harryhausen, Jon Favreau, Peter Billingsley
Rated PG for mature themes. This one is a pretty fun flick for Christmas movie addicts. If you haven’t seen it in a theater this is your chance. It’s playing at two Portland area theaters, the Cinetopias in Beaverton and Vancouver.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Catch Gary Wolcott Friday afternoons at 4:50 on KXL’s Afternoon News.
Gary has been KXL’s movie critic since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 28-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
He is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
Got a movie suggestion or comment? Click here to email him.