Directed by Jon Favreau.
Written by David Berenbaum.
Starring Will Ferrell, James Caan and Bob Newhart.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 11/14/03
Lost in the shuffle of news that
Revolutions” made like $50 million last weekend was that “Elf”, the
new comedy starring Will Ferrell, made over $30 million on its own.
This is huge, mostly because it means there will be a big raise for
Ferrell in his future film efforts...but, the sad thing is that the
movie just isn’t very funny.
Ferrell stars as Buddy, who as an orphan was
accidentally picked up by Santa Clause (Ed Asner) during a gift drop
30 years ago and taken back to the North Pole. Santa decides to
keep the kid at the North Pole and an older elf (Bob Newhart)
decides to raise Buddy like his very own son. However, being
“human”, Buddy is much bigger than the other elves that work at the
North Pole toy manufacturing homes and never really fits in. When
he turns 30, the older elf-guy tells Buddy that his real father, a
publishing tycoon named Walter (James Caan), lives in New York City,
so Buddy sets off to find him.
I went to a matinee of this film yesterday,
and I was rested and excited to laugh, since I think Ferrell is just
hilarious. Then, after sitting through that blah preview for “The
Cat in the Hat” and that blah preview for “The Haunted Mansion”,
things only got worse as the film stumbled out of the gates and
didn’t give me much reason to even chuckle at some of the nonsense
that was going on. I guess that director Jon Favreau does a great
job of showing us that Buddy is a needy, annoying man-child...but,
this didn’t translate to laughs for me. It doesn’t help that “Elf”
has about five really funny scenes, and four of them are in the
trailer, which I feared but thought Ferrell would have enough
charisma to carry this drivel throughout. Caan looks annoyed not
only at the Buddy character but just being in this film altogether;
co-stars Asner and Newhart have almost nothing to do, and co-star
Zooey Deschanel (as Buddy’s love interest) just felt a little flat,
and her supposed beautiful singing voice didn’t turn me on all that
The scenes in the trailer that are funny
still work in the full-length form, though; the money shot for me
was that ridiculous snowball fight, and watching Buddy dive in
slow-motion and peg two kids running away with the powdery stuff.
It also reminded me of my favorite snowball fight of all time,
during my first year at UVA where five guys from Gooch-Dillard
jumped myself and six dormmates as we were walking to a dining hall
one night for dinner. Watching other guys take cover to avoid
getting hit by snowballs—diving left, diving right, yelling and
screaming, trying to locate the offenders—is just fantastic.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard