When you think about all the Christmas classics, your mind probably jumps to such films as A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, or Gremlins, right? See, the problem with all the Christmas classics is that they’re all mostly 20 or more years old, which is fine for cinema geeks, but for a new generation of kids growing up, they’re far from relatable or nostalgic. Enter Elf, the Christmas classic for the 2000s era that’ll undoubtedly be played on TNT for 24 hours on a loop someday. Elf follows Buddy the elf, played perfectly by Will Ferrell in probably his best role to date, who discovers that– surprise!– he’s not an elf at all, but a human who sneaked into Santa’s sack of toys back when he was a baby. Upon discovering the truth, Buddy decides to take a trip into New York City to find his dad, who put him up for adoption all those years ago. The problem is that his dad is actually on the naughty list, which means that Buddy will need to put some Christmas cheer into his old man’s heart as he traverses a world totally alien to him.
What makes Elf such a *modern* holiday classic is the environment and world it throws itself in. In the North Pole, everything is whimsical, happy, and deliberately made to look silly. The snow looks ridiculous, the sets are intentionally hilarious, and the funny, cutesy creatures that roam the North Pole are created with adorable stop motion. Now, contrast this world with NYC: it’s dark, gross, and almost always miserable. Between the clouds and constant snow, this is a world we’re familiar with. Like many good comedies before it, the humor comes from throwing the whimsical Buddy into a world without Christmas spirit. The modern world is one that deserves some soul and spirit. It needs love and humor; it needs a Buddy. Released in a post 9/11 world, Elf proved to be surprisingly influential and, in my opinion, will be one of the most important Christmas movies of our lifetime. Conjured by an over the top– but never too much– performance by Will Ferrell, in contrast to the ridiculously dry, “I don’t want to be here” James Caan, there is never a dull moment in this modern classic. I mean, look at the supporting cast, with the likes of Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, Andy Richter, Kyle Gass, Edward Asner, etc. Its ridiculous! Spread some much needed positivity and Christmas cheer this year with a nice heaping of Elf.
dir. Jon Favreau
Screens Friday, 12/22, 7:30pm @ Video Underground