Hello, Spongey here.
Merry Christmas, even though it’s only the 19th as I’m writing this intro! Actually, this is posted on Christmas Eve but close enough. Either way, this is our official Christmas Review for 2016. I haven’t had the best luck with these…
2012: Batman Returns. Enjoyable but objectively a mess on every level.
2013: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. The only fitting one so far, being a pretty solid film, despite being a Stoner Comedy
2014; Saving Santa. One of the most forgettable things ever. It wasn’t even interesting enough
2015; Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. Just…no.
Yeah, we’ve only had one positive official Christmas Review, and it was for an unconventional movie. This year, I wanted to shake things up. 2016 has been such a bad year for all of us, and that includes the blog.
Not the blog itself, but the movies. The best thing I’ve looked at this year so far was Goosebumps which was still not amazing or anything. It’s just enjoyable to me. The reason I don’t review many Good movies anymore is the new way I review things.
I now only do big reviews if they give me materiel and good movies don’t really fall under that. They’re good, so there’s not much to make fun of and I’ve done most of the good films I can talk about.
But in the spirit of Christmas,I wanted to do something good. I don’t even care if it gives me a lot to talk about, it just needed to be good and upbeat. I think I’ve a good one. This is a 2003 Christmas Film which was one of the earlier starring roles for Will Ferrel.
Shockingly, I’ve never reviewed one of his starring films yet. The only time he’s been on here Is Tim and Eric, ugh. He’s one of those comic actors who can be funny but just needs someone to reel him in.
I can never say he’s half assing anything like Adam Sandler does, but he can go too far. The thing is, he doesn’t have as many infamous movies as others, and his biggest flops, Bewitched and Land of the Lost, has been covered plenty of times already.
Maybe I’ll do Step Brothers or Semi Pro some say but for now, let’s look at an example of him being good, at least from what I remember. As I said, this was an earlier starring role for him and it became a big hit.
It really launched his career, and has now become a Christmas Staple,, being run endlessly on ABC Fa-oh I mean, Freeform. Still think that’s a dumb name. Anyway, it spawned a musical and then an animated version, neither of which I have seen or know anything about.
I have seen this before, because I saw a kid in the early to mid 2000’s. It was pretty much required viewing at the time. I saw a few times at the time but haven’t seen it much in a while. From what I recall, it was a charming enough film.
And since I recall it being decent, it was a perfect fit for a good holiday movie .Here’s hoping it’s still good. Our writer went on to help pen such gems as The Haunted Mansion, Zoom, and Strange Magic.
Yeah. The director had better luck as he went on to…help start the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it. And even recently had that Jungle Book remake, which was the best thing ever even though it was just okay.
He has variety, I’ll give him that.
With all that said, let’s hope this gives me the Christmas cheer I need. Will it hold up and be a nice way to shake up for that dog movie? Let’s find out!
This, is Elf
The movie opens with an elf about to tell us a story. But first he gives us exposition on how elves in this world work. It works in context to give us an idea on the ideal elf is to contrast with what we see in a bit.
Even all the elves are just grown men in silly costumes. They tried gnomes and trolls but got drunk and poop jokes instead of hard workers. This movie racist against Gnomes and Trolls, who knew?
Our real story begins 30 years ago, after the title sequence. Santa visits an orphanage with a baby who is feeling Rugrats-y and sneaks into his sack. This has to be the worst Santa ever to not notice this kind of thing but we wouldn’t have a movie so okay.
When he gets back home, he finds out about his stowaway. So he could either just put the baby back before anyone finds out, or he adopted the bay thus taking him away from the orphanage, who must going crazy trying to find their missing baby.
…This movie is more messed up than I remember.
Nonetheless, Buddy as they name him grows up and being a human is slower and much bigger than the other elves. He’s nothing like the others. Instead of being an adult in a silly costume like the others, he’s Will Ferrel in a silly costume!
That’s much scarier.
The story telling elf who raised him still treats him like his own son, and even shows him how Santa’s Sleigh works. We are then told that more people stop believing in Santa Claus which is causing an Energy Crisis.
Wait, do they only survive off of people believing in Santa? That raises a lot of questions but I don’t care for now.
Buddy obviously doesn’t fit due to being human, but he actually isn’t really mocked for it. People respect him fine, he’s just slow due to not having the same talents as the others. That’s interesting because it would have been easy for him to be bullied or mocked.
Instead, he feels like the outcast he is without it being too mean. Although he is sent to work where the…Special elves work. No comment. Yeah, we might be outright mocked and they do feel sorry for him but they do realize how limited he is. Buddy doesn’t know he’s a human…until he overhears some elves saying it, because of course that’s how finds it out.
Buddy goes to that unnamed elf who raised, and he explains everything. He leaves out the Orphanage stuff and tells him about his real father. I guess his Santa powers made him find out about that but it’s still odd in context.
Real Dad fell in love with a woman but the woman put Buddy up for adoption, then she died. Yeesh, that’s a bit harsh. Real Dad doesn’t know Buddy exists, which doesn’t make a whole of sense, unless she left him before having Buddy, which itself is a bit messed up.
Buddy’s Dad lives in New York (because of course he does), so he decides to go visit him. And Santa is very much okay with it, without any debate needed. He gives some advice at least.
“If you see a sign that says Peep Show, that doesn’t mean they’re letting look at presents before Christmas”
Because we need a bit more conflict, Santa reveals that Dad is on the Naughty List. Also, Santa is played by Ed Asner who plays Santa a lot so seeing him is no shock.
I joke but this set up is a good one for a movie like this, an elf who is actually a human and his Dad is Naughty. It has plenty of chances for jokes and nice moments. Let’s see exactly how it goes down.
With that, Buddy leaves with no supplies or anything of the sort. …Sure this is a good idea? With no transportation of any kind, Buddy makes it to New York to partake in an amusing montage. We get te usual fish out of water joke, but there’s certainly fun to be had with them here.
Buddy heads to his Dad’s Office as of course he’s a grumpy mean business person. And of course it’s a bit awkward when this man child in an Elf outfit comes in, claiming to be Mr. Hobbs’ Son.
Naturally, he’s kicked out pretty quickly. You gotta love how well Buddy takes it, he clearly doesn’t get what’s going on. Then he just kind of wanders off into some store because the plot says so.
Buddy is mistaken for a worker at the store’s whole North Pole set up, because that had to happen at some point in this, Also ,at one point Buddy says “Oh my God”. Him knowing about God raises so many questions..
Buddy meets one employee there, played by Zoey Deschannel because even a man child needs a love interest. I’ve seen far worse as far as forced love interests go, plus their dynamic is amusing.
Yeah, she’s not too enthused about things but she’s fairly accepting of Buddy’s cheerful-ness at least. Later, Buddy somehow stays after closing without being caught and spruces up the place That morning he hears Jovie, the female worker singing in the shower, which I guess some places like this have.
Well, this is a good a moment as any to bust out a “She’s Nice” Gag:
No idea how long it’s been since I did it, but this is her first appearance on her oddly enough, so there you go.
Buddy seemingly creeping on her on the shower, even if he’s just listening to her voice, is …well creepy though. Especially since we just kind of move on after that. After a couple gags that go nowhere, they do talk about that bit but again, just move on like it was nothing.
The store’s Santa shows up and the gag you’re expecting happens, with Buddy noticing it’s not the real Santa. So of course he tears off his beard and causes wacky hi jinks. I joke but most of the mock works in context and in cases lime this, is crazy enough to be amusing.
This scuffle gets Buddy arrested and he uses his one phone call to get Walter to bust him out. This is a decent enough to make them meet again and discuss the situation.
Walter decides to figure out if Buddy is really is son with a Doctor’s Test Thing. Some of Buddy’s shtick is slightly annoying here with him shouting random stuff for reasons. And of course Walter finds out that he is indeed the father.
So thus James Caan must live with his son who thinks he’s an elf. Sounds more like a Sitcom than a real movie, yet that movie is still better than most Sitcoms I’ve seen lately.
We get an awkward dinner table scene with features Buddy drinking a big bottle of Coke in one swig because…product placement. They naturally think he’s crazy but since he’s his son, Walter can’t get rid of him.
You can imagine how most of the film will go from what has been established. But of course that’s not bad as long as it’s …you know good, and so far I think it is. The clashing personalities make for some funny scenes at least.
He tells him to loose the tights “as soon as impossible”. What happens next is purely his fault: Buddy pulling down his pants just as Walter’s Wife comes in.
Buddy visits Walter’s other Son right after school and he’s not having any of it with Buddy. Then some random bullies start up a snowball for no reason, other than for Buddy to prove his worth by being able to fight back. It serves it’s purpose in that regard, and is mildly funny.
Afterwards, they talk and we find out Walter is a workaholc, to the shock of no one. I think the cliché kind of works in the context of him being naughty, so I’ll let it slide just this once. Barely. They wind up at the store (spoilers he got fired ontop of landing in jail) where Buddy attempts to ask her out.
“I feel really warm when I am around you, and my tongue swells up-”
Okay, I don’t wanna hear the end of that. We just cut to the next scene so I just assume she said maybe. Walter takes Buddy to work the next day on the wife’s request since we haven’t had too many workplace jokes yet.
It doesn’t too long for Walter to send him to the mail room to get off his back. I should mention that while Will Ferell is the scene stealer, James Caan is good too because of just how snarky and fed he is the whole time. Without going too far into Kevin Spacey Cat Territory.
Buddy makes a new friend who is pretty much a stoner and the next scene with them has them talking like stoners. Now that’s funny. Then as this movie is want to do it cuts to the next scene without much of an end to the previous one.
Now Buddy is on a date with Jovie, which ends up being rather cute. Forced or not, the romance here is nice enough in execution. While that’s going on, Walter has this famous author come over because his business is in books, I guess. He’s treated like his big scary hot shot so of course he’s a little person, played by Peter Dinklage.
It being him kind of takes away from the joke, as he is you know, usually awesome..
And of course, Buddy comes in so he can mistake Miles for an Elf.His reaction is pretty funny as he goes from just laughing it off, to actually being offended. It gets to the point where he attacks Buddy.
He’s playing someone who exists just he can be a little person and be offended….and it’s still more dignified than The Boss.
Miles of course, leaves, meaning Walter has lot an important client. Naturally, this causes him to snap at Buddy and kick him out. Eh, I think a less jokey catalyst would have worked but the aftermath is good enough.
Buddy takes a hint and leaves, understanding that he doesn’t belong here. Slightly rushed but better than if he threw some kind of fit over. The other son sees Buddy’s note and goes to tell Walter and calls him out for being a jerk.
He’s in the middle of a meeting, so of course this is the moment where he decides family is more important and yada. The execution is fine, but it’s still fairly cliché. While walking around outside, Buddy happens to see Santa in the sky which at least makes sense and isn’t too contrived.
Santa crashes because the Christmas spirit that gives him power is mostly gone. See, told you that was a bad idea for a power source. It’ll make for a cute climax at least. Walter and other son show up to apologize. Well, that was quick.
On a side note, we see the news covering the stuff going on like the sleigh crashing, an there’s a running gag of two people basically fighting over who is better and who gets to really report of this. It’s so weird but actually pretty funny.
Buddy helps get a part for the sleigh and Walter meets Santa. He just atomically believes it’s him since …well, in this situation, you just don’t ask questions. Oh, and Micheal gets a nice moment with Santa.
They have to get people to believe in Santa so his sleigh can fly, so Micheal brings out the Nice list…er book in this case to show to the news people. Since Micheal lists off stuff that most people wouldn’t know, they can’t really not believe him even if they’re not fully sold.
Jovie shows up and starts singing to raise people’s spirits, thus completing her arc. They sort of telegraphed that with the whole being shy about singing thing (Didn’t I just get this in Sing?) but whatever, it’s a nice scene.
This is thankfully enough to get Santa off the ground and into the air. In it’s full context, this is a nice climax, especially on a thematic level, with every getting into the spirit. I’m glad the closest to a villain were these ranger dudes that don’t do too much.
Papa Elf, pipes in to wrap thing’s up. Okay, the climax might have worked but it looks the wrap up will be rushed. Walter starts his own publishing company and makes a book called…Elf.
Buddy has a kid with Jovie because the thought of him doing the deed isn’t horrifying at all. So we end with them visiting Papa Elf at the North Pole, as a quick gag closes us out. Well, that was a surprisingly rushed ending for a movie I like.
Ah well, at least it was nice enough.
I will freely admit that this movie is very much flawed and comes close to being a bit weaker….but I still like it. Perhaps it doesn’t hold up amazing well, but I do enjoy it. Let’s get the problems out of the way.
The writing does have it’s issues. There’s some cliches that make this more generic than it needs to be, there’s some contrived elements, and the plot can be a bit too leisurely at times, wasting time on antics, forcing other parts to be rushed.
These things aren’t a deal breaker on their own, but together it can make the film seem slightly poor in terms of writing. Despite that it works and that’s due a few things but mostly 2: Will Ferell and the heart.
As I said before, he never seems to be half assing anything and this shows that. Regardless if you enjoy him here, you gotta admit that he’s really giving it his all. He really throws himself into the role and really sells the characters childlike innocence.
The heart comes from him too with his very attitude. As cheesy some of this is, it’s very heartfelt and scenes that I would usually hate, work decently well. The humor also helps, as there’s plenty of amusing jokes, mostly from Buddy.
Character-wise, every one is mostly just there but Buddy and Walter alone bring that element up a bit. Plus, the actors help make them more enjoyable. This movie is more focused on being sweet and doing silly stuff with Buddy, then being ambitious, but that’s fine.
It has the kind of writing problems that usually result in something I dislike, but the good things make up for it. It gets the Christmas Spirit down part, the acting is pretty good, and has plenty of charm and heart.
This is one of those movies most people have seen by now, but if you haven’t, take what I say into account and give it a shot. Newcomers may not love it, but in the right mindset, you may like it.
While it doesn’t hold as well as some other “Classics’ ,i still enjoyed it, as it was fun to revisit. It’s not quite my favorite Will Ferell starring movie (Megmand is if it counts)…and if Lego Movie counts, it’s that one more so) but hey, I enjoy this fine.
Weird that Harold and Kumar 3 is still my favorite Christmas Movie I have reviewed, but there you go…
It’s always good to review something I enjoy, even if it was flawed. This made for a fine Christmas Review.
With that said, Merry Christmas! Hope you have a good holiday season, especially after this year. This is my final scene by scene review of 2016. I’ll be back in 2017 with a Friday the 13th movie, don’t worry I found out early this time.
In the meantime, the main post I want to do before the end of the month (besides the Slappy New Year Review) is The Best and Worst Things I Reviewed in 2016. Oh boy, that should be fun. Look forward to that.
With that, we’re done here. Again, Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Happy Shut the Fuck Up and all that.