“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Those words are a token we should all cherish, as Will Ferrell said them as Buddy the Elf in the best Christmas movie of all time. If you can get a grumpy James Caan to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” on live TV, you’ve got Elf superpowers… though true Elf fans know it was actually Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) who told everybody to sing and Michael told Walter to stop faking it and actually sing a Christmas song. That’s right, don’t be a Squidward this Christmas. Instead, be an elf.
Elf is a very special movie for me for many reasons, including how it made me think Will Ferrell can do no wrong… except that he is a USC fan, but I guess we can forgive him since he’s been so funny on SNL and in many great movies. Just see The Other Guys and Step Brothers. This movie also was the first holiday movie I saw in November, and though I was kind of thinking “Should I really see this before Thanksgiving?” I took the plunge and there’s no turning back.
Also when you’re Buddy and you go to your dad’s office and serenade him and tell him you’re his son and make him feel awkward in front of all his co-workers, there’s no turning back.
It also is insanely quotable and gives you a lot of nifty life lessons, like not cramming 11 cookies into someone’s VCR, or these days, stuffing 11 cookies into someone’s USB port. Hint: don’t do it. There are moments like “You sit on a throne of lies!” when Buddy shames a “fake” Santa at Gimbel’s, and when Mary Steenburgen’s Emily asks Buddy how he slept, he happily replies, “I got a full forty minutes!” after he shows her a wooden horse he created with wood from the TV set. And there’s also the wicked cool snowball fight that Buddy and Michael have in Central Park with those ne’er-do-well middle schoolers. And next time you get whopped and it really hurts, just scream “Son of a nutcracker!” and you’ll be fine. But if you did something wrong, or even procrastinated during finals, just say, “I am a cotton-headed ninnymoggins!”
Now you may be wondering, anything else I can get out of this movie? It’s just a grown man running around New York City whose prior knowledge from Ed Asner’s Santa is to not eat the yellow snow and not to go to peep shows because they aren’t for seeing Christmas presents early. There’s also dating advice, in case you haven’t been to Professor Cronin’s dating talks. All Buddy has to do to ask Jovie is “Do you want to eat food?” She then looks confused and bewildered, so he winks at her, and says, “The code.” She smiles and accepts this weird question, and they get together. Not sure if this would work in real life, but go ahead, try it.
Besides the absurdity of Will Ferrell and his antics, like running into traffic in front of taxis and saying “Sorry!” there are some really awesome, funny people in this Christmas flick. You have Amy Sedaris as Deb, who says to her friend on the phone, “But I’ve never declawed kittens before.” She’s pretty funny, as is her brother David, who is a great author of many funny short stories. Then you have Zooey Deschanel who plays Jovie, and she is just as great if not funnier in New Girl and the New Year’s Eve video she does with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a jam.
You also have Mary Steenburgen who puts up with Buddy’s antics as best as she can and even eats his maple syrup spaghetti. Even comedic legend Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, who knows Buddy is a handful at times but is a nice father figure to him. You even have Andy Richter as Morris, who is Walter’s co-worker and one of Buddy’s friends. And possibly one of the best scenes in Elf is when Peter Dinklage (from Game of Thrones and X-Men: Days of Future Past) as Miles Finch runs across a conference room table and beats Buddy up after Buddy called him a “South Pole elf” and an “angry elf.” Just goes to show you don’t mess with Miles Finch. And don’t ask dumb questions like, “Did you have to borrow a reindeer to get down here?”
But all in all, you should see this movie not once, not twice, but again and again because it is a laugh-out-loud movie that is heartwarming and not only has a hysterically funny lead actor (Thank you Will Ferrell), but it has a really good ensemble and gets you in the Christmas spirit. The setting of New York City is perfect as it shows a place where people keep running from place to place, leading pressured, hectic lives, and then comes Buddy walking out of the Lincoln Tunnel. As Stevie Wonder says in his song “Living for the City,” “Wow, New York, just like I pictured it. Skyscrapers and everything.” It really is a great opening to the movie to see Buddy exploring the Big Apple and trying to find out all he can about this crazy new place. But really, Elf gets you into the Christmas spirit because Santa gets stuck in Central Park and needs the uplifting power of Christmas cheer to get the sleigh flying up in the air so he can go around the world and do his job. Happiness and joy prevails in this movie. Even if you’re a hardened person like Walter Hobbs whose attitude is “I’m done with everything,” this movie tries to make you lighten up and enjoy these joyous moments with the people who matter.
I rate Elf a 10/10 and I’m sticking by that. Now, if you can remember one thing, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”