I didn’t expect to like Elf. I had always imagined it to be like many Will Ferrell led movies to rely on too much screaming and generally unfunny antics so I had mostly steered clear. Strangely enough though, I didn’t hate and actually enjoyed certain parts of it.
In terms of Christmas movies in New York City I’d stick to Home Alone 2.
If you haven’t seen or heard of Elf I will give you a brief rundown. A baby up for adoption crawls into Santa’s bag and is mistakenly brought back to the North Pole. Instead of returning the baby, Santa decides that an old elf will raise “Buddy” as his own. Eventually, due to his incompetence as an elf worker, his adoptive father sends Buddy to New York City in search for his real father who doesn’t know he exists. His father has to decide what is most important to him when Buddy interferes with his work and family.
It is a pretty good premise for a Christmas film and checks all the right boxes. Christmas spirit – check. Family values – check. Overcoming fears and saving the day – check, check! It also features a cute romantic sub plot that is totally not necessary, and extremely creepy (more on that later) but manages to weave it into the story fairly nicely.
Also it has Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) in a cameo!
Generally when I watch Christmas movies I try to turn off my brain a bit and suspend my belief. Christmas movies are usually pretty bad for plot holes and I try not to let them bother me when I’m watching the films. For some reason though, they just kept bugging me throughout my screening of Elf. There was also, while not really plot holes, illogical choices made solely for the purposes of the comedy of the film but just don’t make sense to me. Of course without these things the movie wouldn’t exist or would be a documentary or something not very funny so I understand.
So the whole movie revolves around the fact that “Buddy” becomes an elf by sneaking his way to the North Pole. I don’t get why Santa wouldn’t just return him to the orphanage or to a family who is wishing for a child for Christmas? Of course, no movie if he does that so moving on. They decide to raise him as an elf, knowing full well that he is a human and will become much bigger than them and would likely cause problems. I mean I’m not an expert on the best time to tell your kid that they are adopted, but 30 years is a long time when there are noticeable differences in size.
How do you not notice this?!
Apparently elves have four food groups consisting of candy which should actually mean that Buddy would be greatly malnourished. The movie seems to imply that Buddy has had nothing but candy for his entire life until he goes to New York which seems fairly impossible for a human to survive and grow on for 30 years. It also seems strange to me that the elves would not teach boundaries, such as maybe don’t go into the women’s locker room. When he is in New York City he seems to know well enough that he cannot look in the shower but not that he shouldn’t be in there at all. He did shower at the North Pole in the movie so maybe they only taught him not to open the curtain?
Santa and Papa Elf send Buddy back to New York City they decide that he only needs to know the basics. His father’s name, his place of work, his mom’s name, not to eat gum off the street, where the original Ray’s pizza actually is, what a peepshow is not, and that his father is naughty. Nothing about what a car is and how to cross a street without being hit by a taxi. Nothing about how people might look at him different because of his outfit and that not everyone believes in Santa. Nothing about how to survive in New York City!
I feel like that would hurt more. Enough to learn to look at least!
Again if they had told him more about how humans act and what to expect they would have lost the physical humour of him being hit and almost being hit by cars. Pretty much all of the comedy comes from the idea that Buddy is a fish out of water and is only slowly learning about the rules of New York and humans. This is the same idea with him being mistaken as a store employee. It adds to the comedy of him freaking out about the impostor Santa. I’m pretty sure it would be hard to mistake someone in a completely different elf costume, who is much taller than the rest of your staff as an elf employee. I mean Buddy has no birth certificate, no SIN number to even work, no last name (officially) as far as we know – so how would the store manager be attempting to track his hours of work? He would realize at least after a short amount of time that he doesn’t work there.
I could probably go on and on about the plot holes and illogical story points but I want to talk about one more thing – the creepy romance. Buddy somehow ends up convincing the girl to go on a date with him because of his childlike charm but everything he does before that is downright weird. He starts off by staring at her, ignoring her requests to leave her alone, and physically blocking her path to leave. Then he escalates by entering the women’s locker room to listen to her sing. He is arrested and removed from the store following a violent altercation (not involving her) but comes back violating a restraining order to come ask her out. For some reason Jovie never finds this creepy and weird and accepts it, and then their romance becomes cute and delightful. This reddit user has a twist on it as well.
Look at that sly creepy smile.
Even with all of these issues the movie doesn’t rely on Will Ferrell screaming too much (more yell singing than I would like though) and has many cute and funny moments that make the film enjoyable. If you are a person who has no trouble looking past plot holes then this film should never bother you in the ways it bothered me. Despite its plot holes I’d actually recommend it especially for families with older (7+) children and for adults who enjoy Will Ferrell.
Don’t agree with my opinion? Find more plot holes? Let us know in the comments!