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"Elf encourages all of us to spread xmas joy. To thine own elf be true!"




The Masked Reviewer

It's refreshing to see a film with such a short title.

That being said, let's tackle the meat of Elf, starring Will Ferrell as...an elf!  And, by the "meat of Elf", the Masked Reivewer is of course referring to his giant, bulbous genitalia which practically burst out of Ferrell's elven tights throughout the entire film, like a 3D Magic Eye poster.  Good grief.  Talk about about a xmas package!  It's a kid's movie!  Put that away! 

On to the movie.  Many moviegoers may be wary of this film because it stars a member of the cast of "Saturday Night Live."  In recent years, this has not always been a good thing.  While Adam Sandler has enjoyed some box office success, he also did Billy Madison (1995) and Little Nicky (2000).  Let's not forget Tim Meadows in The Ladies Man (2000), A Night at the Roxbury (1988 -- which starred Will Ferrell), Dan Ackroyd in Coneheads (1993), Molly Shannon in Superstar (1999), and Al Franken in Stuart Saves His Family (1995).  The last five were produced by Lorne Michaels.  But he's not entirely to blame.

What about David Spade's Joe Dirt (2001) or the trilogy of horror from Rob Schneider -- The Animal (2001), The Hot Chick (2002), and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999...but stay tuned for the sequel, Deuce Bigalow: Electric Gigolo coming in 2004!  Really).  Then there's Corky Romano (2001) starring Chris Kattan.  Hopefully Chris Kattan will get a spin-off movie based on his "Saturday Night Live" character, Mr. Peepers, in which we will watch him eat an apple very fast.  Repeatedly.

So, Will Ferrell has a lot of live up to.  But maybe this works in his favor.  The Masked Reviewer went into this film expecting it to be a horrendous experience, like the other films mentioned above.  But...perhaps because expectations were so low, it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been!

Ed Asner plays Santa Claus.  That's funny, right there.  In fact, just casting Ed Asner as Santa is funnier than everything in Rob Schneider's last three films.

There are a number of fine performances for this kind of film.  You may notice the phrase "for this kind of film" creeping up a lot in this review.  That's because you have to remember what it is...it's a xmas movie, mostly for kids.  It doesn't aspire to much more than that.  It doesn't feel like it's geared to adults looking for an intellectual comedy. 

Bob Newhart, James Caan, and Mary Steenbergen all give fine performances for this kind of film, though Will Ferrell is the obvious focus of the film.

The film is more or less a one-joke movie.  Will Ferrell plays a big kid.  However, he is able to pull it off in a charming way, for the most part.  That is a testament to his personal charisma, because he's able to maintain a funny peppiness  throughout the movie.

Let's not forget that Jon Favreau directed this bad boy, and he makes a cameo appearance...this will make the scores of rabid Favreau fans very happy, for this kind of film.

There are some funny sight gags, as well as some great design elements that will get a laugh from many people.  The North Pole set is great, and the film features stop motion animation by the talented Chiodo brothers, of Killer Klowns from Outer Space fame.

If you like scenes that involve belching, Elf may possibly contain the longest on-screen burp to date; it easily surpasses that of Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.  The Masked Reviewer believes that this scene was created through the use of special effects, though, so don't be too impressed.

Peter Dinklage, a real-life dwarf (or "little person", or "midget", or "shrimp") gives a great performance.  The Masked Reviewer became aware of a problem in movies after seeing Dinklage work...there aren't any (other) good dwarf actors.  Think about it.  When's the last time a dwarf won an academy award?  Who are the great, moving, convincing dwarf actors?  Okay, they're all convincing because they're always playing dwarves, but it's not thanks to their acting ability.  Even Lord of the Rings realized this, a movie filled with elves, dwarves, pixies, and various other tiny creatures, and instead of using actual little people, Peter Jackson used digital effects.  What good performances have you seen by a dwarf ever?  Mini Me?  Billy Barty?  That guy from WIllow?  They all suck!  They get the acting jobs because of their height.  But, Peter Dinklage could change all of that.  He's good.  He's an actor.  He's not a ham, or a hack...and yes, he is playing a dwarf so it's not much of a stretch for him (hee-hee!...sorry) but he is convincing.  He also appears in The Station Agent.  It's nice to finally see a great big actor in a little tiny body. 

The Masked Reviewer hopes that the little people of the world won't be offended by these remarks.  The Masked Reviewer loves little people, and has nothing but the utmost respect for the problems they must overcome in the world.  A lot of midgets probably become actors because they can't find other work -- munchkin, child actor stand-in, chimney sweep -- that's the major career choices for the vertically challenged.  But hopefully Peter Dinklage will raise the bar.

If you have to drag the kids to see something, Elf is more fun than, say, Brother Bear.  And, there's fewer bears in this film.  It has a style and a charm about it.  Don't expect too much out of it, and you'll have a fine time.  There aren't any huge laughs in it, but it's "cute".  The nostalgic references are sure to play well with the older crowd. 

Elf encourages all of us to spread xmas joy.  To thine own elf be true!

Expectation from the Title: If you're hoping it's the film version of "Alf" and they simply made a typo, you'll be disappointed.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything): Will Ferrell smiles a lot, and that's always nice to see.

The Pros: Nice design, best performance by a dwarf ever, goofy but charming in its own way.

The Cons: One joke movie, geared for kids, no hot nude scenes with Zooey Deschanel. 


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