I vividly remember in middle school and high school, during the last week of class before winter break, we were given the opportunity to watch a Christmas movie. The choices were always A Christmas Story, that stupid National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and the one I dreaded the most: Elf.
The reason I always despised hearing this title on the list was because as soon as the class heard the name they would lose their minds and the picking was over. I have been subjected to watching Elf at least twice during that one week in December for over eight years and I never once enjoyed the experience. I have my reasons for my dislike.
First off, if you are not a fan of Will Ferrell, like me, then obviously this movie is not one that is going to sit well with you. It’s hard to watch an actor or comedian you are not a fan of. But speaking of comedy, Elf is bad comedy.
Peter Dinklage’s scene in which he jumps on the table to fight Buddy comes very, very close to mocking little people (or people who were born with dwarfism). I understand that that actor is one of those people but it is still an example of a joke in bad taste. And that’s only one of the many in this movie.
Children watch this movie. It was not the best choice to enlighten these children, who may still believe in Santa Claus, to the possibility that he may not be real. Newhart the Elf states plainly to Buddy that some kids do not believe. There’s also a scene where Buddy exposes the mall Santa as a fake. If this movie was aimed towards adults, then go for it. But, this movie was supposedly aimed at children!
Why should the makers of the movie have had the right to open those cracks in kids’ belief in Santa Claus. He holds all of the magic for kids during the season and taking that away before it is necessary is rude, mean and just a bad move.
Santa is not painted as a great guy. Number one, Santa fails to realize that some baby climbed into his bag. When he realizes, he gives the baby to an elf. Excuse me, but Santa does know where everyone lives; he could have taken the kid back to the orphanage. Or, even give him to human parents in a world where he would actually fit in, rather than with the elves.
Also, Santa knew all about where Buddy came from because Newhart eventually tells Buddy the truth about his family. They knew this information all along and just kept it from him, letting him grow up and
believe in a life that really is not his. Aside from Santa though, the other elves are not great people. Bullies would be a good term for them.
People love the scene in which Buddy starts singing along with Zooey Deschanel. Um…do you not understand that this is really creepy? She is in the shower. He sneaks in. She is unaware of him being there and most definitely wants him to leave. Definition of creepy.
Christmas films always have some wonderful meaning behind them. A Christmas Story is about the innocence of children during the season. Scrooge in A Christmas Carol is utterly destroyed and laid out by the ghosts and so his redemption means something. George Bailey gets up on that bridge in It’s A Wonderful Life and when the town gets together to aid him, that means something. But Buddy does not have some charming innocence.
Buddy is not a monster who was changed by some intense realization and self-reflection. Buddy does not have a bridge. Movies have to earn their happy endings.
I could not even bring myself to watch this movie in order to write this review because of my absolute disdain for it. I know this is an unpopular opinion. I have had that knowledge since I first saw it and observed my classmates reactions toward it. I do not get it. It is mediocre at best and there are so many better Christmas movies out there to celebrate the holiday season with.
Not every movie has to be dramatic and moody to be counted as worth watching. Despite what some might say, not every movie has to be Moonlight-caliber to be enjoyed. While movies like that definitely have their place, other movies are just fun and silly. And it’s okay to enjoy those too! Sometimes you just want to sit down and watch something easy and enjoy yourself, especially around Christmastime.
Because while Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most stressful time of year. Families are tense, there’s panic over presents and decorations, and confusion about whose house are we going to and when; then amidst all that chaos stands a beloved Christmas comedy: Elf.
Elf doesn’t want you to sit down and ponder deep philosophical questions for two hours. It doesn’t want to wrench your heart and leave you low when the movie is over. Elf wants you lay back and laugh at Will Ferrell takes eating littered gum and getting hit by a taxi. Elf wants nothing more than for you to relax and enjoy your holiday.
So while I cannot tell you that Elf is a masterpiece of cinema, I can tell you that Elf has saved me from many potential holiday meltdowns. It’s not meant to change your life. It’s just meant to entertain you for an hour and a half, and for me it succeeds! Laughing at stupid comedy is a welcome distraction from the hustle and bustle of the holiday, and I will always spend my Christmases with Buddy the Elf.