Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon Favreau|
|Produced by||Jon Berg
|Written by||David Berenbaum|
|Based on||Elf by Buddy Hobbs|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Editing by||Dan Lebental|
|Studio||Guy Walks Into a Bar Productions|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema (US)
Warner Bros. (International)
Entertainment Film (UK)
Alliance Films (Canada)
|Running time||97 minutes|
Elf is a 2003 American Christmas comedy film directed by Jon Favreau, written by David Berenbaum, and starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, and Zooey Deschanel. It was released in the United States on November 7, 2003, and grossed over $220,400,000 worldwide. The story is about one of Santa's elves who learns of his true identity as a human and goes to New York City to meet his biological father, spreading Christmas cheer in a world of cynics as he goes.
A baby boy, captivated by the sight of a teddy bear, crawls into Santa Claus's (Edward Asner) sack of gifts while he is delivering toys to an orphanage on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus unknowingly takes the baby back to the North Pole, where Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) volunteers to raise him. The baby was christened William but through a humorous misunderstanding is renamed Buddy (Will Ferrell). He is raised unaware of his status as a human, until his enormous size and (relatively) poor toy-making abilities lead him to ultimately find out the truth. Papa Elf reveals that Buddy was born to Walter Hobbs (James Caan) and Susan Wells and given up for adoption, and that Walter never knew of his existence. He explains how Susan later died and that Walter now works at a children's book company in New York City. Buddy sets out for a long trip to New York to find his father after saying good-bye to friends.
Upon arriving in the Big Apple, Buddy tracks down his father in his office in the Empire State Building. Upon showing up, Walter Hobbs incredulously calls security on him. During the exile, the guards sarcastically advise him to go to Gimbels, where he is mistaken for an employee and meets Jovie (Zooey Deschanel). During the store's closure, Buddy hyperactively decorates the sales displays, to everyone's astonishment the next morning. When the Gimbels department store Santa arrives that day to meet children, Buddy is shocked to discover that he is not the genuine Santa he knows, causing the two to escalate into a fight. He is arrested and spends a day in jail. Walter soon bails him out and takes him to a pediatrician for a DNA test. Once it is proven that he is in fact Walter's son, he takes him home to meet his stepmother, Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and 12-year-old half-brother, Michael (Daniel Tay). Buddy confounds the family by his childlike enthusiasm, eccentric food tastes and dining deportment, and insistence that he actually walked from the North Pole.
Buddy befriends Michael after defeating some bullies in a snowball fight in Central Park, and shortly after that he goes on a date with Jovie, charming her with his childlike enthusiasm. Walter, meanwhile, has been trying to save his floundering business by hiring the temperamental bestselling children's writer Miles Finch (Peter Dinklage). After the vertically-challenged Finch arrives, Buddy bursts into the conference room to tell Walter about his newfound love and mistakes Finch for an elf. Insulted, Miles attacks Buddy and storms out without signing a deal with Walter's company. Walter then yells at Buddy to "get out of his life." Depressed and afraid, Buddy writes a message to his father and runs away.
Michael reads Buddy's message and bursts in on Walter's board meeting to frantically inform him that Buddy is gone. He manages to convince Walter to put his family above his job for the first time. Buddy sees Santa's sleigh crash in Central Park. He finds Santa, who explains that he lost the sleigh's "Kringle 3000, 500 Reindeer-Power" jet engine and that the last bit of Christmas Spirit had faded as well. Walter and Michael then encounter Buddy in Central Park, where Walter apologizes to Buddy for his behavior and accepts him as his son. Buddy takes them to meet Santa, who reveals to Michael that believing in him can make his sleigh fly. Michael reads Santa's list in front of TV cameras gathered outside the park, so that people all across New York City believe in him. The Central Park Rangers begin to chase his sleigh while Buddy is still trying to reattach the engine.
Jovie manages to overcome her shyness and get the sleigh back in the air by the power of Christmas Spirit when she leads the crowd in singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," with even Walter joining in. Later, he starts his own publishing company with the first best-selling book released being titled Elf, an account of Buddy's adventures written and illustrated by Buddy Hobbs himself. Sometime later, Buddy and Jovie are married and have a daughter they name Susan after Buddy's biological mother, and in the closing scene they are shown visiting Papa Elf at the North Pole.
- Will Ferrell as Buddy Hobbs
- James Caan as Walter Hobbs
- Zooey Deschanel as Jovie
- Mary Steenburgen as Emily Hobbs
- Daniel Tay as Michael Hobbs
- Edward Asner as Santa Claus
- Bob Newhart as Papa Elf
- Faizon Love as Gimbel's manager
- Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch
- Amy Sedaris as Deborah "Deb"
- Michael Lerner as Fulton Greenway
- Andy Richter as Morris
- Kyle Gass as Eugene
- Artie Lange as Gimbel's Santa
- Leon Redbone (voice) as Leon the Snowman
- Ray Harryhausen (voice) as Polar Bear Cub
- Jon Favreau as Dr. Leonardo
- Peter Billingsley as Ming-Ming
- James Walsh as Penguin Family
The film makes heavy use of forced perspective (rather than CGI) to make Buddy the Elf appear much larger than all the other elves. Zooey Deschanel sings in the movie. Buddy belches for twelve seconds, after drinking a 2 litre bottle of Coca-Cola. The belch was real, as dubbed by voice actor Maurice LaMarche. A line of jack-in-the-box toys are heard emitting a "hyena laugh" sound effect that first appeared in Lady And The Tramp. Elf was not entirely shot in NYC; there are several scenes shot in Coquitlam, BC at Riverview Hospital.
Reception and legacy
The film received critical acclaim from critics, and in the years since its release, has joined the many classic holiday-themed films which air annually on television during the Christmas season. It currently holds an 84% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus that "Ferrell's funny and charming performance makes Elf a delightful Christmas comedy."
The film made over $220 million at the box office worldwide, greatly exceeding its production budget of $33 million. In the US it topped the box office on its second week of release, beating out Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. In the UK it ranked #2 behind Love Actually.
- Domestic: $173,398,518
- Foreign: $47,044,933
- Total: $220,443,451
In the years following its cinema release, Elf has been chosen as one of the best Christmas films by media outlets such as British film magazine Empire, Film 4 and New York Daily News. Elf has also been voted the 3rd best Christmas film by readers of about.com and Digital Spy.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for 9 awards and won 2.
- 2004 ASCAP award - Top Box Office Films (John Debney)
- 2004 Golden Trailer - Best Comedy
- 2004 Blimp Award - Favorite Movie
- 2004 MTV Movie Award - Best Comedic Performance (Will Ferrell)
- 2004 PFCS Award - Best Live Action Family Film and Best Use of Previously Published or Recorded Music
- 2004 Teen Choice Award - Choice Movie Actor (Will Ferrell) and Choice Movie - comedy
- 2005 Golden Satellite Award - Best Youth DVD
A Broadway musical based upon the film ran on Broadway during the 2010 Christmas season. It was directed by Casey Nicholaw, with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan.
The musical officially opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on November 10, 2010, after previews from November 2, 2010. The cast included Sebastian Arcelus as Buddy, Amy Spanger as Jovie, Beth Leavel as Emily, Mark Jacoby as Walter, Matthew Gumley as Michael, Valerie Wright as Deb, Michael McCormick as Mr. Greenway, Michael Mandell as Store Manager, and George Wendt as Santa.
The musical ran through to January 2, 2011.
The musical also ran during the 2012 holiday season at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle until Dec. 31, 2012 
- "Pennies from Heaven" - Louis Prima
- "Sleigh Ride" - Ella Fitzgerald and the Frank De Vol Orchestra
- "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" - Lena Horne
- "Sleigh Ride/Santa Claus Party" - Ferrante and Teicher/Les Baxter
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Leon Redbone/Zooey Deschanel
- "Jingle Bells" - Jim Reeves
- "The Nutcracker Suite" - Brian Setzer
- "Christmas Island" - Leon Redbone
- "Santa Baby" - Eartha Kitt/Henri René and His Orchestra
- "Winter Wonderland" - Leon Redbone
- "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Eddy Arnold
- "Nothing from Nothing" - Billy Preston
- "Maurice LaMarche interview on Talk Radio Meltdown - Explanation of Buddy the Elf's belch at 21:52". Talk Radio Meltdown. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Explanation of the sound effect
- "Elf at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
- "Elf (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- "Elf beats Crowe at US box office". bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 16 November 2003. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "The 30 Best Christmas Movies Ever". empireonline.com (Bauer Consumer Media). December 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "Christmas Movies". film4.com (Channel 4). Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "Merry Christmas! The best Christmas movies ever". Daily News New York. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "Top 10 Christmas Movies". About.com (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- Reynolds, Simon (December 19, 2011). "Muppet Christmas Carol tops Digital Spy favourite Christmas film poll". Digital Spy (Hearst Magazines UK). Retrieved December 24, 2011.
- "Elf Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- Hetrick, Adam."Beth Leavel, Mark Jacoby and George Wendt to Star in Elf – The Musical on Broadway" playbill.com, August 11, 2010
- Berson, Misha (December 7, 2012). "'Elf' is one jolly musical". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
- "Elf Soundtrack". Amazon.com. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- "Elf Original Soundtrack". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- "Hollywood Studio Symphony". Retrieved 1 January 2010.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Elf|
- Elf at the Internet Movie Database
- Elf at allmovie
- Elf at Box Office Mojo
- Elf at Rotten Tomatoes
- Elf: The Musical at the Internet Broadway Database
- Elf Tickets