JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Elf (2003)

Directed by: Jon Favreau
Cast: Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage

Written by Sarah Buddery

Arguably the greatest Christmas film ever, and easily the most quotable, Elf is the festive family staple that you’ll wish you could watch more than once a year.

Whilst Will Ferrell’s “man-baby” routine may be a little tiresome in some of his other more adult comedies, in Elf, it is perfectly pitched and suits the innocence and naivete of Buddy the Elf perfectly.

Elf is one of those rare, recent (although it is 15 years old this year!) Christmas films that has shown the test of time and still tops many people’s festive favourites. Everyone knows the story by now, but Elf follows the story of Buddy (Ferrell), a human who finds his way to the North Pole when he is just a baby, and is subsequently raised by Elves, believing himself to be one of them too. When he finds out he is in fact a human, and his biological Father lives in New York City, Buddy embarks on a journey through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops and finally walks through the Lincoln Tunnel in search of his Daddy.

In the magical realm of New York, Buddy finds his family and tries his best to blend in. And this is of course when the hilarity of Elf kicks in. Elf succeeds in being consistently funny and delivering laughs and memorable moments in abundance. It has in fact been a Christmas tradition of mine for a few years now to attend the quote-a-long screenings at the Prince Charles Cinema, and nothing quite spreads the Christmas cheer like a room full of people (mostly adults!) screaming “SANTAAAAAAAAAAAA” at the appropriate moment.

Aside from Ferrell, this film has a host of other great performances, including one from a very young (and blonde!) Zoey Deschanel and James Caan, most well-known for being part of the Corleone family in The Godfather. A very different role in Elf, as you can well imagine, Caan is great as the put-upon Dad, and his onscreen relationship with Ferrell’s Buddy, is particularly wonderful.

Part of Elf’s enduring, endearing quality is that it has all the elements of a perfect Christmas movie. It is about as Christmassy as you can get, it’s full of jokes for all the family, and it delivers the perfectly wrapped message of Christmas spirit, believing in Santa, and the importance of family that really helps to cement it as a Christmas classic.

There’s not much more that can be said about Elf that hasn’t been said already. It is the staple of my festive film watching, and I’m sure it is for you too. Ignore anyone who says this is a kids film, it is a film for everyone, whether you grew up loving it or are a recent convert. It isn’t Christmas until you’ve watched Elf, so settle down with a bottle of syrup and get ready to sing loud for all to hear, “Santa Claus is coming to town!”

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The Game Is Afoot In First ‘Holmes And Watson’ Trailer

“A humorous take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.”

Directed by: Etan Cohen

Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall, Kelly Macdonald

Release Date: December 26th, 2018

Daddy’s Home 2

Year: 2017
Directed by: Sean Anders
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, John Cena

Written by Tom Sheffield

Another year, another sequel that we probably wouldn’t have missed if it was never made. Sean Anders returns to direct this festive sequel to the 2015 comedy, ‘Daddy’s Home’. Thanks to a special screening at my local cinema, this happened to be my first festive film of the 2017 (after avoiding ‘Bad Moms Christmas’), and all I can say is the only way is up for my festive viewings this year.

In this festive sequel, Brad (Ferrell) and Dusty (Wahlberg) have a co-dad routine in place that they think is going swimmingly. It soon comes to their attention that their children don’t like having to spend Christmases at different houses every year, so the co-dads decide to have one big family Christmas. Coincidentally, Dusty’s estranged father, Kurt (Gibson), calls to say he’s dropping by for Christmas too, and Brad’s dad, Don (Lithgow), is also on a plane to spend Christmas with them. Kurt is intent on causing a rift between Brad and Dusty from the second he meets them at the airport, and it doesn’t take long before the cracks begin to show.

As with the first film, Wahlberg and Ferrell are a great comedic pair on-screen. Their friendship in this film is put through its paces, which leads to lots of arguing, hugging, fighting, and the exchanging of kind words through gritted teeth. Newcomers Gibson and Lithgow are fantastic additions to the cast, and play their respective roles superbly. Lithgow is an over-loving, coddling, old-fashioned dad, and Gibson’s character is anything but those things. The child actors also get a thumbs up from me, especially young Scarlett Estevez. The less you know why they’re brilliant in this film, the more hilarious they’ll be in the film if you see it, so I’ll say no more!

Where this film really falters is trying to make us care for each and every one of these characters. The plot delves into multiple character backstories and sub plots that, in all honesty, we don’t really care about. I think the forced addition of making it a festive film also hinders the overall story. Don’t get me wrong, introducing us to Dusty and Brad’s Dads was a great idea, but trying to delve into their backstories, whilst also having all the characters in the story interact with one another, then throwing Christmas shenanigans into the mix, all just lead to one gigantic mess of a plot, which admittedly occasionally got a laugh out of me, but overall is easily forgettable and feels wholly unnecessary.

The addition of Gibson, Lithgow, and Cena is the films only saving grace. The new characters meant some of the comedy didn’t feel as repetitive and I found their characters far more interesting and much funnier than the co-dads. The child actors also have their chances to shine during this film, and again, I found some of their scenes much funnier than Wahlberg and Ferrell’s.

As one of only a few festive films hitting cinemas this year, it’s probably worth a gamble going to see it as you may find yourself liking it more than I did. It does offer up a few good laughs, and a twist or two you don’t see coming! I will also add that there is a particular musical scene at the end of the film that would melt the ice-cold heart of the Grinch, and in those few minutes I forgot what I was watching and actually felt a little Christmas-y! That didn’t last long though, and I soon crashed back to reality and pondered on the other things I could have done in those 100 minutes I’d just wasted.

Tom’s Rating: 4.5/10