'Elf (Ultimate Collector's Edition)'
(Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG / 2010 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: This holiday season, it is better to give than to receive! Stuff your stockings with the magical comedy Elf, available in an Ultimate Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video October 26, 2010. This delightfully heartwarming and hilarious holiday tale has been supersized just in time for gift giving and loaded with fun holiday goodies that will spread holiday cheer and smiles… because smiling is Buddy’s favorite!
DVD Verdict: Will Ferrell of SNL fame stars as Buddy. When a baby in an orphanage, Buddy crawled into Santa's sack and was taken to the North Pole. There he was adopted by a kindly elf (Bob Newhart) and raised until he was about 30 when he discovered he was a human and not an elf. Like I said, Buddy is quite naïve throughout.
Learning his true lot in life, Buddy heads for New York to find his real father, a man Santa tells him is on the naughty list.
Buddy's father Walter is played by James Caan. Walter is a publisher of children's books who is looking for a hit. He's also one of those workaholics that have no time for anything from the holiday to his own family. Needless to say when Buddy arrives rather than welcome him with open arms, he sends him away and refuses to believe.
Buddy finds work (and a love interest) at Gimbels in the Christmas department naturally. A tussle with a store Santa (you see Buddy KNOWS he's not the real one) and he loses his job. But not before Walter takes him to his doctor to discover that yes, Buddy IS his real son.
Moving in with the family, Buddy is filled with Christmas cheer non stop. He decorates the apartment, he eats everything with syrup on it and he becomes friends with Walter's other son Michael (Daniel Tay). It is through watching and being exposed to Buddy that several of the characters change by the films end.
But before that happens, a destitute Buddy watches as Santa's sleigh falls from the sky into Central Park. The magic that kept the sleigh soaring in the past was Christmas spirit which has been lacking lately. An engine was put on by Buddy's adoptive father to help Santa along. But the engine has fallen off and only Buddy can replace it and help Santa. But can he do so before the park police catch them? Or will there be a way that the spirit of Christmas will rise again, enough to get the sleigh running once more?
This movie is filled with simple jokes that are funny, mostly visuals that lose something in the translation when described (for instance Buddy's joy in running around in a revolving door...see? Not funny to read but funny to watch). Ferrell is fantastic, providing the right about of simple mindedness to Buddy but at the same time offering that hopeful attitude that most of us have lost along the way.
Caan does a great job too as the frustrated father who never knew about Buddy but is struggling to not only come to terms with that but his whole life as well. Mary Steenburgen adds just the right support in her role as Caan's wife. Zooey Deschanel is a bright star as the object of Buddy's affection (with a fantastic singing voice as well). And stand out but used only for a brief moment is Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch, a high priced creative genius in the world of children's lit who buddy mistakes for an elf (Dinklage is actually a dwarf).
The movie offers some hilarious moments and some touching ones as well. And it also takes a moment to remind us all of the real spirit of Christmas. The joy of giving and not just waiting to see who got you something. It makes you realize that this is a special time of the year. And above all else, it makes you feel one of the simplest things at this time of year. Warm and fuzzy. Don't miss this one. [MT] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Fact track reveals history, facts and trivia about the movie
Beyond the Movie featurettes: "Deck the Halls," "Christmas in Tinseltown," "Santa Mania," "Kids on Christmas"
All Access Pass featurettes: "Tag along with Will Ferrell," "How they made the North Pole," "Film School for Kids," "That's Wrap," "Lights, Camera, Puffin!"
Fun and Games: Buddy's Adventure Game, Elf Karaoke, Read-Along, Elf Karaoke and more.