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ELF

The day arrives when Buddy, who accidentally landed in Santa’s sack when he was a baby, can no longer pass himself off as a normal elf toiling beside the wee folk in Santa's workshop. So the big lug decides to check out his birth-father in sleazy, decadent New York City.

CAST: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage, Faizon Love,
DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau

"‘Elf’ is funny and intelligently made, a film for kids and adults that's both sweet and sardonic. It takes the clash between the world as we know it and the world as it exists in Christmas stories and exploits that contrast to expert comic effect. Then it does something even more difficult -- it comes in for a landing without banking too hard either in the direction of cynicism or sentiment. ‘Elf’ stays perfectly in balance, a pleasure throughout…As Buddy, Ferrell plays a happy idiot with heroic intensity and variety…It's a terrific comic performance, completely invested, physically energetic and utterly relentless." --Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"This is one of those rare Christmas comedies that has a heart, a brain and a wicked sense of humor, and it charms the socks right off the mantelpiece…Peter Dinklage, who played the dwarf in ‘The Station Agent,’ has a brief but sublime scene in which he cuts right to the bottom line of elfhood." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"…the first and possibly the last Will Ferrell star vehicle. It's a clumsy, tedious ride that wears out its welcome as it wears out the seat of your pants and the circulation in your lower limbs. And it employs exactly the same mechanism as the other ‘SNL’ movie failures, such as Chevy Chase's, Chris Kattan's and Molly Shannon's, to name several of those who managed to make a few movies without killing themselves on drugs before their time in the limelight was up. The mechanism is as simple as it is ruthless: ‘SNL’ regularly finds brilliant sketch artists, and nobody is funnier over the run of a seven-minute routine. But when you take that kind of incisive, cartoony talent and attempt to spin it out over 90 minutes, the results are painful to watch and harmful to listen to." --Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

"‘Elf’ is a pleasantly old-fashioned, gee-whillikers Yuletide confection rescued from Schmaltz-ville by the subversive comic talents of Will Ferrell…Shrewd direction by Jon Favreau and David Berenbaum's smart, colorful script lend a sly modernity to this delightfully fractured Christmas fairy tale -- but it's Ferrell's show…Ferrell's manic, overgrown-kid energy sweeps all before it, announcing him--after his standout turn in ‘Old School’ -- as a major leading-man talent who can charm as well as amuse…Zooey Deschanel, as Buddy's gradually thawing love interest, unveils a surprisingly smoky singing voice, and Peter Dinklage (‘The Station Agent’) makes a memorable appearance as a supercilious kids' book author." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"Ferrell is a hoot. So is much of this witty holiday family entertainment, which, up until the end, when the ‘true spirit of Christmas’ must be reaffirmed, happily favors slapstick over treacle." --David Ansen, Newsweek

"‘Elf’ is a charming, silly family Christmas movie more likely to spread real joy than migraine, indigestion and sugar shock. The movie succeeds because it at once restrains its sticky, gooey good cheer and wildly overdoes it. The restraint comes from a jaunty, witty script by David Berenbaum, and also from the casting of two beloved old sitcom curmudgeons, Ed Asner and Bob Newhart, as Santa and his chief elf. The responsibility for overdoing it belongs to Will Ferrell, the oafishly adroit, shame-immune "Saturday Night Live" comedian…Cutting through the sugar like a bracing dash of lemon juice is Zooey Deschanel, playing Jovie, an elf-for-hire at Gimbels…‘Elf’ also happily forgoes the slick, hyperactive aggression that makes so many live-action holiday comedies so wearying." -- A. O. Scott, The New York Times

"I was looking forward to something a tad more satirical than this Hallmark card of a movie, which plugs innocence and goodness like they’re going out of style… Normally I love watching Ferrell do his gangly, clueless shtick, and even here, there’s something inherently funny about just seeing him in a big, green elf suit…But it’s awfully early in his movie career to be playing cuddly family-entertainment darlings. I thought he had it right in his last film, ‘Old School,’ where he got blotto at a kegger and then streaked down Main Street in blissful oblivion." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"Childlike wonder is what Will Ferrell does best, and he has found the perfect outlet for it in the charming holiday movie ‘Elf,’ a non-sappy and genuinely adorable confection.
It wiped away the Scrooge in me for 90 enchanting minutes." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"The film belongs to Ferrell…Ferrell embraces the role as though he's been preparing for it his entire career (maybe he has), and things only get better when the storyline has him discover that his real father is alive and living in New York City." --Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun

"As well-behaved and appealing as Ferrell is, Zooey Deschanel lights up the movie. She says her lines in the same sort of barbecued way that Debra Winger does, and her eyes are those of a skeptic who wants to believe. In the film's biggest surprise, she sings ‘Baby, It's Cold Outside’ and to her shock is joined by Buddy. Her half of the rendition sounds as balmy as Ella Fitzgerald's and Pearl Bailey's. ‘Elf’ tries earnestly to say that family is the greatest Christmas gift, but by the end of the movie, Deschanel is the only thing we want under the tree." --Wesley Morris, Boston Globe

"It's never explained why this adult man — nicknamed Buddy — looks to be about 35 or 40 but has the emotional maturity of a 4-year-old. At Buddy's advanced age, his childlike innocence is more creepy than cuddly…the story is so derivative that a couple of moderately savvy middle-schoolers could have written it after a quick review of formulaic movies such as ‘The Santa Clause’ or ‘Jingle All the Way’… Its message is unobjectionable, and there are a few laughs to be had, but too much of ‘Elf’ is like Buddy's favorite meals: syrupy sweet." --Claudia Puig, USA Today

"Three things make ‘Elf’ as zesty as a perfect Christmas toy. One is Mr. Ferrell's on-the-button blend of silliness, seriousness, and ... well, elfishness. Another is the bang-up supporting cast. The third is David Berenbaum's sugarplum of a screenplay, aimed at all ages but never condescending to either kids or adults. Jon Favreau has directed it with split-second comic timing." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"Ferrell doesn’t do much other than prance about being good-natured, and though the actor is somewhat glassy-eyed, as if longing to be off somewhere doing impressions, in his statutory green-and-yellow costume topping enormous curly slippers he looks adorably like a giant zucchini with its roots still on. And though ‘Elf’ deserves a good hiding for criminally underutilizing the divine comedy of Zooey Deschanel, who plays Buddy’s love interest (and, unexpectedly, sings like a nightingale), I cannot find it in my heart to spank a movie that boasts Bob Newhart in chrome-yellow tights, bifocals, and the same empty stare that made him the world’s goofiest television therapist." --Ella Taylor, LA Weekly