is genuinely good. Not just Saturday Night Live
-movie good, when the movie has some funny bits but is basically an insult to humanity; Elf
is a smartly written, skillfully directed, and deftly acted story of a human being adopted by Christmas elves who returns to the human world to find his father. And because the writing, directing, and acting are all genuinely good, Elf
is also genuinely funny. Will Ferrell, as Buddy the adopted elf, is hysterically sincere. James Caan, as his rediscovered father, executes his surly dumbfoundedness with perfect aplomb. Zooey Deschanel, as a department store worker with whom Buddy falls in love, is adorably sardonic. Director Jon Favreau (Swingers
) shepherds the movie through all the obligatory Christmas cliches and focuses on material that's sometimes subtle and consistently surprising. Frankly, Elf
feels miraculous. Also featuring Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage, and Ed Asner as Santa Claus. --Bret Fetzer
Christmas family comedy directed by independent filmmaker Jon Favreau. Will Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human being who has spent his whole life believing himself to be an elf. Brought up by Santa (Edward Asner) and his elves at the North Pole, Buddy has spent the last 30 years happily working in Santa's toy workshop. But when his ungainly size starts to become a liability in the elf-sized working environment, Santa suggests that Buddy head to New York City to find his biological father (James Caan). Needless to say, the unlikely spectacle of a 6'5' man dressed from head to foot in bright green stands out a mile on the streets of the Big Apple, and the good-natured Buddy finds himself in all sorts of scrapes as he gets used to his new family and surroundings - and they get used to him.