It’s around that time again, when temperatures begin to drop and twinkling lights start to line homes and green pines. Tasty family recipes are passed around and classic movies are played on cold dark nights. A familiar Christmas favorite, Elf lights up faces and hearts of all ages watching the festive film. A movie of an orphan on Christmas eve that is taken home with Santa after breaking out of his crib and crawling toward the Big Man’s shiny black boots. Back at the north pole, an elderly little “Papa Elf” takes in the baby and names him Buddy in accordance to the diaper label and only clothing on the little child. Here Buddy would grow and become highly educated in elf-culture. This movie ties wonderful morals for children with a fantastic vibrant spirit for the Christmas holiday all with an adventure containing an underlying coming-of-age story similar and very relatable to every growing child’s life.
Buddy sings a whole octave lower than the other Elves in the choir, his shoes don’t fit,he’s too big for the shower and his bed but the main spark to find where he really belongs comes one day when he’s in the workshop crafting etch a-sketches . The head elf comes to him and asks how many he’s made. Buddy replies “I made um…85?” This is not at all acceptable in the elf world. Needles bend, buttons are dropped and all eyes turn to the human in the room. “That makes you 915 off pace,” the lead elf tells Buddy…making Buddy feel alienated and not good enough, something similar to what everyone is faced with; one of the challenges of growing up. Next he over hears the lead elf mention “if he hasn’t found out he’s a human by now, I don’t think he ever will.” Buddy goes through a whirlwind and decides to leave on a quest to the “magical land” of New York to find his real father.
Our elf character travels far and wide upon foot to reach New York, “I passed through the seven layers of the candy cane forest, through the sea of twirly, swirly gum drops and then I walked through the Lincoln tunnel,” he explains vibrantly and full of life. While Buddy’s adventure sounds interesting and fun the poor man is faced with very realistic problems for an elf. A raccoon is the first, he tries to hug the rabid animal but this one is nothing like his claymation friends at the north pole. He eats gum off the railings on the streets, gets stuck in the spinning doors and yelled at for taking too many free flyers. The elf-man is even stared down in a shop after announcing all too seriously “You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee!” and then goes through the large trouble of going up the foreign moving staircase, and his tights stretch as Buddy the elf does the splits up the escalator. All of these are perfect instances of Will Ferrell playing his elf character right on the nose. “In most cases, after a while this kind of character would become nauseating and/or be overkill. But in this particular story line the character of a grownup elf is clever, endearing and appealing to the ‘kid’ in all of us,” (McClure.) The kid in us also shows through with these obstacles. Though they are highly exaggerated and in a certain accordance with an innocent elf mind they convey a similarity with many growing children, and adult’s memories. That similarity being the challenges everyone has to go through whether it be bullying, homework or moving, there are all sorts of individual problems in everyone’s lives and this movie secretly conveys that though these things happen you can still persevere.
The minuscule obstacles are not the only ones either, sure old gum and taxi bruises are no fun at all but just like life the challenges of Buddy’s come to him in several layers as the movie progresses. He meets his father (who is on the naughty list) and is rejected right away. Security sends him over to Gimbels, a holiday department store across the street. Once he goes inside that building a store manager sees his clothing and mistakenly thinks Buddy as one of his employees. Flustered and angered the manager shuffles over and drags the elf back to a certain department, decorated and workers in elf suits everywhere. The manager turns to Buddy and asks “why are you smiling?” Buddy replies “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.” The manager quickly snaps back a fact of the real world “WORK, work’s your new favorite. Make work your new favorite.” This is one of the biggest most obvious lines in the film of Buddy’s step into the adult world.
Next Buddy sees a beautiful blonde worker upon a ladder hanging ornaments. This is buddy’s love interest in the movie. Another common step in life for us humans. His brother later tells him that he needs to ask her out, on a date….to eat food. He said it was sort of a secret code girls have. (hmm, semi-true!) Buddy takes this all too literally and asks the lady dressed in elf-ware if she’d like to “eat food.”
She says yes and Buddy is in. The elf also gets so worked up when a fake Santa walks in to talk to the children that he rips his white beard clean off. The follow up to this action is jail time. Something else that’s very real about this world.
The strong spirit of Christmas is introduced when the audience learns an elf’s three main rules. The first, “treat every day like Christmas,” the second “there’s room for everyone on the nice list,” and finally “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” These rules are great for the young listeners. The first rule sends a message to instill the excitement and enthusiasm of Christmas morning into everyday life. The second is a code saying everyone in this world has the capacity to be good, so give everyone that opportunity. The third is simply the back up plan to spread these good spirits. Also toward the end of the movie, Buddy’s little brother pulls out Santa’s book of presents and reads it to the newscaster for all of New York to hear. When children around the city hear their name and exactly what they asked for read off, their spirit and belief charge Santa’s sleigh just like the good old days! The audience gets to watch as the Spirit grows when even adult’s names are called out and even the newscaster herself. Taken even to another level, the Christmas enthusiasm grows grander when Buddy’s girlfriend remembers one of his elf rules and stands up tall to sing to the bystanders. Everyone joins in and there is so much Christmas Spirit that Santa’s sleigh boosts and soars off into the night right over the whole crowd, saving Christmas.
All in all this movie is great for all ages. Some parents tend to think it needs to be screened for the young ones since “Some instances of crude humor are present, as is a moderate amount of imitative behavior. A few characters drink, some bad attitudes are present and a few scenes might be unsettling or suspenseful to younger kids” (“ELF.”) As well as Buddy’s sort of gross childish behavior at times. “Parents should know that the movie has some mild potty humor and a couple of gross-out gags involving burping, barfing, and eating some pretty disgusting things” (RKumar.)
However “This is a story that has something for everyone: singing, family values, a message about believing in what you can’t see, love, forgiveness and cherishing those closest to you” (McClure.)
Buddy’s determination shows anything is possible. He wins the love of his brother through an epic snowball fight, and his father somehow through a mixture of constant nagging and his elfish moral behavior. The story line despite how extreme is very relatable to common lives.Buddy shows the happiness and goofiness we all need to remember every Christmas as well as everyday. That is why this is such a Christmas favorite.