"Elf" (2003) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #86 Gem Mint 10.0


“Elf“ (2003)

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: David Berenbaum

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage, Ed Asner

Rated: PG for some mild rude humor and language

Runtime: 1h 37min

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family

Country: USA

Language: English


"After discovering he is a human, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole decides to travel to New York City to locate his real father."


You might like this if you like: Comedies, Christmas Movies, Family Movies, Will Ferrell, Jon Favreau('s work), Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage, Ed Asner


Will Ferrell in "Elf" (2003)


Appreciating Jon Favreau’s work before I even knew he directed this film. I was probably around 9 or 10 when this film came out in theaters. I saw it with my family and my friend Ruben in theaters and would watch it over and over again at home on DVD. It was one of our childhood favorites.


My love for this film has only grown with Jon Favreau’s incredible progression as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s one of my favorite human beings. NBC’s “Friends” was where I first saw Favreau as Monica’s early early love interest “Pete”, but at the time and for awhile I just knew him as “Pete” from “Friends”. It wasn’t until later, even after seeing “Elf”, I discovered what a truly amazing filmmaker he was.


Amy Sedaris (left), James Caan (middle) & Will Ferrell (right) in "Elf" (2003)


I always appreciate those that can make me laugh and those that can create the spectacle of cinema. Action too. Directing great action and being able to make me laugh is something I always cherish. From Favreau starring in “Swingers” (1997) with Vince Vaughn, to directing “Iron Man” (2008) and beginning, what is now, the ever so growing; Marvel Cinematic Universe, to starring in and creating “Chef” (2014), to the wonderful addition to the “Star Wars” universe; “The Mandalorian”, he’s a filmmaker quite like no other.

Will Ferrell is magical in this. He’s one of the comedy greats. I’ve loved him since the beginning with “Saturday Night Live” and all the way up until now. That man can still make me giggle. This is definitely one of my favorite performances he’s done. Hard to pick one as I adore so many.


Will Ferrell in "Elf" (2003)

This was probably the first thing I’d seen Zooey Deschanel in. I think I can safely say, as kid, I fell in love with her character just as hard as Buddy did.

James Caan and Bob Newhart are fantastic! Being able to do something so silly but with a caliber of acting skill unlike most comedians, it’s just too fun to watch.


Zooey Deschanel in "Elf" (2003)

One of my favorite elements of the film is how good the visual effects were for that time. Realizing only now it came out around the same time as Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” films. Also how similar of a visual effect “Elf” had to use for their film and how good they pulled it off for their much cheaper comedy was fascinating to me. Again, I couldn’t appreciate “Elf” from a filmmaker’s point of view when it came out, let alone, see it as Jon Favreau film, until now.


Bob Newhart (left) & Will Ferrell (right) in "Elf" (2003)

It’s a movie I can watch seriously and enjoy, have in the background and enjoy, it’s just as funny to watch even outside of December and feels like a film for all ages to enjoy! From some of the silliest gags to the most brilliant improv, Will Ferrell and Jon Favreau’s collaboration is like no others. Just like Buddy’s goal in the film of bringing back the Christmas spirit to the people, I feel rejuvenated with joy every time I watch it. Mission accomplished, Buddy!


Written by Sam Gall on 12/17/20


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"Simplicity. Goodness. Sugar-coated. Nostalgic. Maybe a little hokey at times. Endearing. Enchanting. Go celebrate Christmas a little early with Elf -- a new Christmas classic for the 21st century." - Debbie Lynn Elias, Behind The Lens


"There are few cinematic ventures that capture the Christmas spirit in such abundance and hit the Holiday target so directly on the nose." - Kristy Strouse, Film Inquiry


"Will Ferrell's over-the-top performance in Elf is one of the reasons why the comedy has managed to stand the test of time." - Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies


"Raise a glass of cheer to Ferrell and Favreau. They might not have created a full-scale holiday classic here, but they've certainly given us a fresh, sparkly new bauble to hang on our perennial tree." - Dennis King, Tulsa World


"Sure, Elf feels a little too feel-good at the end, but what do you expect? It's a Christmas movie! Anything else would be the cinematic equivalent of finding coal in your stocking." - Christy Lemire, Associated Press


Official Trailer:


Behind the Scenes:


Available on various VOD platforms


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