31 days of festive-ass flicks, day 21: elf

Day 21 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks [CALENDAR] was Elf which I’ve already talked about some here. I actually watched this one the day I was supposed to! (Don’t worry, it won’t last.) [Spoilers!]

I love Elf. I really do. Every time I go to watch it, I think, “This will be the time it breaks and I’ll just like it” but instead I love it. I love it more and more and more each time.

It has the right mix of nostalgia and modernness to feel really, really current, but also have the sweetness of it not come off as cloying or fake. It’s got all the right feelings about family and love and the meaning of the holidays. It’s got an outstanding cast. I mean, seriously. Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel (in one of the few non-manic pixie dream girl roles of her career), Peter Dinklage, Amy Sedaris, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen, and James Caan. ALL IN THE SAME MOVIE. And they’re all so good and perfectly cast and clearly John Favreau knew what he was doing. It could’ve stood at least another character of color, but Faizon Love is GREAT and present at least.

This movie relies totally on Will Ferrel selling Buddy as a character and thankfully, he does. I feel like, if Jim Carrey had played the Grinch closer to what Ferrell does in this, that movie would be a whole lot better than it is. Buddy is funny and energetic and obnoxious and tender and sweet and innocent and naive and oblivious and wonderful. Buddy can’t understand the world around him because he expects it to be good. I mean, Buddy’s first hard lesson is that his dad is on the naughty list! Buddy doesn’t understand malice. Which is awkwardly communicated in the scene with Peter Dinklage that is so awful-awkward-painful that I have to cover my eyes.

And it’s not just coming from elf culture either because the dialogue and actions of other elves clearly indicate that their world behaves similarly to the human one. Buddy is a special case, fitting into neither elf nor human worlds, but finding a way to straddle the two and bring joy to people.

Perfect Moments:
– “That’s shocking.” when he sees how low the spirit of Christmas is. Ferrell’s delivery there is SO ON POINT. It kills me.
– “Thanks, Mr. Narwhal!”

– “It’s nice to meet another human with my affinity for elf culture.”
– The amaaaaaaazing decorations he puts up for Santa so that his friend can be greeted properly.

– Sitting outside the shower and mumbling along until he can’t resist and has to sing louder.
– Making breakfast for everyone and destroying the entertainment center to make a rocking horse.
– Eating cotton balls in the doctor’s office.
– Christmas tree viewing.

– Ice-skating kisses. “You missed!” And how confused he is by it and she is so sweet and sassy.
– “Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color?”
– “Watch out for the yellow ones, they don’t stop!”
– Every beautiful pan of holiday New York accompanied by the MOST PERFECT, PERFECT holiday soundtrack.

I love that Buddy’s story becomes a book. And I love that he’s reading it to kids at the end. I love that Walter won’t sing until his kid calls him out on it. I love Santa. I LOVE the Central Park Rangers and that ominous shot of them looking for Santa.

I love that they go home to the North Pole and make the cutest, happiest little human-elf family. Can you even imagine how happy Papa Elf is?!

Suffice it to say, Elf is going to stay one of my Christmas favorites for a long, long time.