‘Tis the season to be jolly because a very special collector’s edition of the 2003 Christmas comedy, Elf has been released on DVD, the Elf: Ultimate Collector’s Edition. The movie itself is the same Infinifilm edition released six years ago by New Line Cinema however this time, the film comes in a rather cool gift tin packaged with other small goodies.
SNL alumnus, Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a man who since he was a baby, was raised by elves in the North Pole, a place where elves make toys, animals, and snowmen talk, and Santa Claus (Edward Asner) actually exists. Buddy eventually finds out that he is not really an elf and decides to embark on a journey to New York City to locate his real human father (James Caan).
Elf is a delightful Christmas film, the first and (so far) best live-action Yuletide romp of the 21st century. It is a sweet and funny fish out of water family comedy. Will Ferrell’s performance as Buddy is both charming and hilarious. This was actually one of his first starring roles and helped propel him to super-stardom and established him as a member of the “Frat Pack”. Cool, and funny, the rest of the cast of Elf is wonderful. James Caan is fine as Buddy’s sourpuss dad. Zooey Deschanel adds wit and beauty to the ensemble, Edward Asner plays a warm, and cuddly Santa, and Bob Newhart is entertaining as Buddy’s elf guardian.
Directed beautifully by Jon Favreau, Elf is Favreau’s second film. His first was the 2001 crime comedy, Made which reunited him with other “Frat Pack” member, Vince Vaughn. Favreau certainly has a gift for filmmaking and this fact is further reinforced by his two Iron Man films. He takes characters who are larger than life and then humanizes them. Buddy the elf is an eccentric man-child who finally experiences the “real world”. Favreau shoots Buddy’s adventure expertly and in doing so, engages the audience and brings them along for the ride.
The film’s script is also worth mentioning. David Berenbaum has truly crafted a wonderful piece of writing. There is humor and there is heart, two things that go together like milk and cookies. The scenes of Buddy frolicking around Manhattan are cute and the interactions he has with other people are hysterical. Also, the father-son theme is both touching, and comical.
Another notable aspect of Elf is it’s soundtrack. The film features a healthy portion of memorable Christmas tunes not to mention a lovely musical score composed by the very talented John Debney (Bruce Almighty, The Passion of the Christ). One can’t help but hum the main theme after seeing the movie which, like Buddy’s personality is both cheerful and innocent.
Unfortunately, movies like Elf don’t come around too often. It’s a rare occurrence that good acting, skillful direction, and tight writing coincide to create a cinematic gem. Christmas usually brings out the best in people, and sometimes the best in movies. There are the classics such as Scrooge, A Christmas Story, and Home Alone and then there is Elf, a relatively new film destined to be a future holiday classic.
DVD Bonus Features
The Elf: Ultimate Collector’s Edition is loaded with many nifty special Christmassy features. First off, there’s the Infinifilm aspect of the DVD, where viewers can watch the movie with pop-up factoids. There are two audio commentaries, one with Ferrell and the other with Favreau, fun interactive activities for kids such as Elf karaoke, a read-along, Buddy’s Adventure Game, and an Elf decoder card.
In addition, there are Elf magnets, gift tags, a holiday CD sampler, and a 14″ plush Christmas stocking all of which are included in the collectible Elf tin. This collector’s set is superb, filled to the brim with fun and exciting items. It would make the perfect holiday gift for anyone, kid, adult, or elf.