Elf (film)

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Elf
Elf movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon Favreau
Produced byJon Berg
Todd Komarnicki
Shauna Robertson
Written byDavid Berenbaum
Based onElf by Buddy Hobbs
StarringWill Ferrell
James Caan
Edward Asner
Bob Newhart
Zooey Deschanel
Mary Steenburgen
Music byJohn Debney
CinematographyGreg Gardiner
Editing byDan Lebental
StudioGuy Walks Into a Bar Productions
Distributed byNew Line Cinema (US)
Warner Bros. (International)
Entertainment Film (UK)
Alliance Films (Canada)
Release dates
  • November 7, 2003 (2003-11-07)
Running time97 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$33 million
Box office$225,443,451
 
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Elf
Elf movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon Favreau
Produced byJon Berg
Todd Komarnicki
Shauna Robertson
Written byDavid Berenbaum
Based onElf by Buddy Hobbs
StarringWill Ferrell
James Caan
Edward Asner
Bob Newhart
Zooey Deschanel
Mary Steenburgen
Music byJohn Debney
CinematographyGreg Gardiner
Editing byDan Lebental
StudioGuy Walks Into a Bar Productions
Distributed byNew Line Cinema (US)
Warner Bros. (International)
Entertainment Film (UK)
Alliance Films (Canada)
Release dates
  • November 7, 2003 (2003-11-07)
Running time97 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$33 million
Box office$225,443,451

Elf is a 2003 American Christmas comedy film directed by Jon Favreau, written by David Berenbaum, based on the book written and illustrated by Buddy Hobbs 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.

Plot[edit]

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 back to Gimbels, where he is mistaken for an employee and meets Jovie (Zooey Deschanel). Buddy, hiding in the store after hours, emerges to hyperactively decorate the sales displays during the closure, to everyone's astonishment the next morning. When the Gimbel's toy department Santa arrives that day to meet children, Buddy is shocked to discover that he is not the genuine Santa he knows, and a fight ensues between them. He is arrested and is 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 while 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). When Finch, a man diagnosed with dwarfism, arrives, Buddy bursts into the conference room to tell Walter about his newfound love and mistakes him for an elf. Miles, feeling insulted, attacks Buddy and storms out without signing a deal with Walter's company. Walter, angry over this setback, 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. Buddy and Jovie marry and have a daughter they name Susan after Buddy's mother, and in the closing scene they are shown visiting Papa Elf at the North Pole.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

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.[1] 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.[2]

Reception and legacy[edit]

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."[3]

The film made over $220 million at the box office worldwide,[4] greatly exceeding its production budget of $33 million. In the US it topped the box office on its second week of release,[5] beating out Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. In the UK it ranked #2 behind Love Actually.

Grosses

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,[6] Film 4[7] and New York Daily News.[8] Elf has also been voted the 3rd best Christmas film by readers of about.com and Digital Spy.[9][10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was nominated for 9 awards and won 2.[11]

Won
Nominated

Stage musical[edit]

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.[12]

The musical also ran during the 2012 holiday season at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle until Dec. 31, 2012 [13]

Media[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack was released in November 2003 in the USA[14] and in October 2005 in the UK.[15]

  1. "Pennies from Heaven" - Louis Prima
  2. "Sleigh Ride" - Ella Fitzgerald and the Frank De Vol Orchestra
  3. "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" - Lena Horne
  4. "Sleigh Ride/Santa Claus Party" - Ferrante and Teicher/Les Baxter
  5. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Leon Redbone/Zooey Deschanel
  6. "Jingle Bells" - Jim Reeves
  7. "The Nutcracker Suite" - Brian Setzer
  8. "Christmas Island" - Leon Redbone
  9. "Santa Baby" - Eartha Kitt/Henri René and His Orchestra
  10. "Winter Wonderland" - Leon Redbone
  11. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Eddy Arnold
  12. "Nothing from Nothing" - Billy Preston

The score to the film, composed by John Debney and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony, was also released.[16] The soundtrack was certified Gold by the RIAA on April 15, 2011.

Home media[edit]

Elf is available on DVD, VHS, and Blu-ray, the latter of which was released on October 28, 2008. It is also available for the PlayStation Portable with Universal Media Disc.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Maurice LaMarche interview on Talk Radio Meltdown - Explanation of Buddy the Elf's belch at 21:52". Talk Radio Meltdown. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Explanation of the sound effect
  3. ^ "Elf at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Elf (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Elf beats Crowe at US box office". bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 16 November 2003. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  6. ^ "The 30 Best Christmas Movies Ever". empireonline.com (Bauer Consumer Media). December 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  7. ^ "Christmas Movies". film4.com (Channel 4). Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  8. ^ "Merry Christmas! The best Christmas movies ever". Daily News New York. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  9. ^ "Top 10 Christmas Movies". About.com (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  10. ^ Reynolds, Simon (December 19, 2011). "Muppet Christmas Carol tops Digital Spy favourite Christmas film poll". Digital Spy (Hearst Magazines UK). Retrieved December 24, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Elf Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Beth Leavel, Mark Jacoby and George Wendt to Star in Elf – The Musical on Broadway" playbill.com, August 11, 2010
  13. ^ Berson, Misha (December 7, 2012). "'Elf' is one jolly musical". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Elf Soundtrack". Amazon.com. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  15. ^ "Elf Original Soundtrack". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  16. ^ "Hollywood Studio Symphony". Retrieved 1 January 2010. 

External links[edit]