On Christmas Eve Eve Eve, I watched Elf for the first time with my partner, over an assortment of antipasto (as is traditional in the Carbon Copy household).
Elf is not particularly original, but what family-friendly Christmas film is? The plot concerns Buddy (Will Ferrell), a human adopted by the Elves of the North Pole. He eventually learns his true identity and sets off to New York in search of his father (James Caan). The first hour is remarkably enjoyable – it’s surprisingly devoid of irony, imbued with genuine cheerfulness. Elf’s good nature is infectious; a highlight is the early North Pole scenes, straight out of a storybook.
The initial scenes in New York are fun – think Crocodile Dundee in tights. New Yorkers act fairly plausibly when encountering the bundle of good cheer that is Buddy, without so much realism to damage the friendliness of the film, and while predictable, there’s some funny moments here.
The last hour or so feels phoned in, however, perhaps because it’s the same ending as essentially every children’s Christmas movie – Buddy has to save the day by getting everyone to believe in Santa. It feels perfunctory, lacking the jovial enthusiasm evident earlier in the film.