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Ferrell drives hilarious, charming Christmas tale

Molly Griffin | Monday, December 6, 2004

Nothing quite says Christmas like Will Ferrell unabashedly prancing around in yellow tights, and “Elf” proves this idea true. “Elf” is one of the best Christmas films to have come out in recent history, and Ferrell’s inspired performance as Buddy, a human raised by elves, is hilarious. Buddy (Ferrell) is raised by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) and lives among the elves in the North Pole working for Santa. His incapability to keep up with the elf’s abilities and his towering height finally reveal to Buddy that he is human, and he decides to go on a quest to find his father in New York City. He travels from the North Pole to the city, and his first day in the Big Apple is quite possibly one of the funniest parts of the entire movie. Buddy finds his father (James Caan), an unscrupulous book publisher, and tries hard to win him over. Buddy also falls in love with Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), a department store worker dressed as an elf. The end of the film, as seems to be the case with all holiday films, involves saving Christmas from disaster, but it still manages to add some funny moments to the standard ending. If you are a fan of Will Ferrell’s work on “Saturday Night Live” or in supporting roles in films like “Austin Powers” or “Zoolander,” then you will like “Elf” because the film is almost exclusively a vehicle for Ferrell to go wild. The sheer joy and dedication he brings to the role of Buddy, an eternally optimistic and child-like character, is paramount to the film’s success. You would be hard pressed to find another comedian capable of filling the role, or the signature yellow tights, quite as well. While the movie is dominated by Ferrell’s presence, the supporting characters in the film are extremely recognizable and necessary for keeping the comedy under control. Amy Sedaris (“Strangers with Candy”) plays a secretary, Andy Richter (“Late Night with Conan O’Brien”) plays a children’s book author and Ed Asner plays Santa Clause. The makers of the “Elf” DVD loaded it with features that appeal to a wide range of audiences. The DVD uses Infinifilm, which puts a graphic in the corner of the screen that allows viewers to access features related to a scene currently playing and return back to that same spot at any time. There are also a large number of featurettes, including “Kids on Christmas,” which has interviews with children, “Santa Mania,” which details the varieties of holiday Santas out there, “Christmas in Tinsel-town,” which reveals how Los Angeles celebrates the holidays, “Tag Along with Will Ferrell,” which follows the actor around the set and a wide variety of others detailing various aspects of the movie. There are two commentaries on the movie, one done by Ferrell and the other by director Jon Favreau (“Swingers”), both of which are good, but since both are comedic actors, it would have been more interesting to see the two of them together. Also included on the DVD are cut scenes, the music from “Elf,” Christmas karaoke and five games that can be played on the TV. “Elf” is an extremely funny Christmas movie that showcases Ferrell’s talents, and the extras included on the DVD are extremely thorough and entertaining. The truest test of a Christmas film is whether or not you can watch it year after year without getting sick of it. After you’ve seen the movie you’ll know Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without seeing Will Ferrell in an elf costume.