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