Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Special: Elf

Elf (2003)

Once upon a Christmas Eve, an orphan baby crawled into Santa's bag of gifts and was taken to the North Pole. Raised by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), Buddy (Will Ferrell) comes to realize he doesn't fit in with the other elves. Determined to find a place where he belongs, Buddy searches for his real dad - in New York City!
In the Big Apple, Buddy finds out why his dad (James Caan) is on the naughty list! But most importantly, he sees that the world is seriously lacking in Christmas spirit, which causes Santa all kinds of problems. So with the help of a beautiful department store elf (Zooey Deschanel), Buddy tries to teach his dad and the world the true meaning of Christmas spirit and to prove to everyone that Santa (Ed Asner) really exists!

My Thoughts
I know a lot of people have probably been waiting for this one. (And by a lot, I mean two or three, because not that many people are reading my blog...). I was a little nervous about watching it again, though, because I'm not a huge Will Ferrell fan. I know...gasp. But some people love him and some people hate him. I don't know many middle-ground people when it comes to Ferrell. I guess I kind of am one of those middle-ground people, though, because I do enjoy some of his movies. I guess I'm just not a fan of that clumsy humor that he's oh so good at. Elf is a completely different story, though, I think. His clumsy hilarity is off-set by the very serious James Caan and the wonderfulness of Zooey Deschanel (another of those actors that some people can't stand). I, personally, love both the Deschanel sisters and almost everything they've acted in, including Elf. So I guess we can get on with it...

I love the beginning story, especially when they kind of poke fun at the Keebler elves. It's a very classic beginning to a very non-classic story. :-)

Will Ferrell is a big guy for humans! I can't imagine how huge he would be in the land of the Christmas elves...And he's so clumsy, why would anyone trust hi with such an important Christmas task?? He pulls off the adopted Christmas elf role surprisingly well. I don't think he has to dig too deeply to find his inner child for these roles. ;-)

I wouldn't go so far as to call him a cotton-headed ninny-muggins, though...

I guess even the trees in the North Pole are elf-sized...I love the arctic puppets and Leon the snowman. And the way that they describe magical New York City is pretty entertaining. Free candy and "Peep Shows" will never be the same...I personally thought it'd be funny if they thought they were shows put on by candy Peeps, but I guess peeking at presents before Christmas would be a good one, too.

Some of the crazy stuff that he does, I've done :-) Running around in a revolving door, I guess, is the only one, but it is super fun. And sometimes I wonder if they have to ever prove that it's the "world's best" when places claim to be.

Elves apparently do not pick up on sarcasm. So for future reference, if you meet an elf, try to hold in the sarcasm, because they will just get confused.

When he tries to get on the escalator, it always reminds me of my mom. She's almost done that before...she's gotten a lot better, though. :-)

And now every time someone says Santa, I always wait for someone to say, "Santa! I know him!", because someone always does...thanks to Will Ferrell.

I think Zooey looks a little weird with the blonde hair, but I still love her character. I know a lot of people disagree and don't like her new show New Girl, but I love it. Probably just because I'm such a fan of hers...but I find it hilarious, except for Schmidt. He's kind of a turd...And who knew Zooey could sing?!? Who can take a shower without singing or humming, though? Also, who wouldn't notice someone else singing??

From a person who has made their fair share of lego models, I can tell you that it is physically impossible to make that much of a model in one night! But I guess elves get special training for that sort of thing...

His wife's reaction to finding out that Walter has another son from another woman is fairly incredible. I mean most people react in the completely opposite way, being angry and thinking that they're lying...but she's just like, "Oh, that's great. Invite him to stay with us." It's awesome...but a little weird.

Things to try:
Syrup on spaghetti
A whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as I can
Tag in the mall
Answer the phone, "Buddy, the elf, what's your favorite color?"
Start a dance party in the mail room of The Empire State Building

And the famous Christmas Eve deadline is given to Walter...The normal priority check for Christmas that happens in many a Christmas movie. It always get worse before it gets better...

Asking a girl out while acting like an elf from the north pole? Who'll accept that challenge? :-)

Peter Dinklage seems to pop up everywhere. A children's book writer, though, that's new. And a sensitive one at that...but I guess Buddy was a little clueless.

This movie really sucks even the Grinchiest of Grinches into the Christmas spirit. It doesn't really give you a choice. Buddy is so much like the average person losing faith in the magic. He's a little bit older when he starts to doubt, but it's basically the same thing. But if no one believes in the magic, than there's no Christmas! I'm not saying Santa and presents...but just the spirit of Christmas. Sounds corny, but isn't this the time for corny? :-) Buddy's extreme, childlike belief would probably be a little much without being off-set by the grown-up realism of his biological dad and those he has to convince.  But can he convince New York in time to save Santa?!?

Random Facts
When this screenplay first emerged in 1993, Jim Carrey was attached to star in the lead.

When she first meets Buddy, Jovie asks, "Did Crumpet put you up to this"? Crumpet is the name David Sedaris called himself while working as an elf. David Sedaris' sister, Amy Sedaris, appears in the film as James Caan's assistant, Deb. The usage of the name Crumpet may refer to Sedaris or may be a coincidence.

The football jersey frequently worn by Michael in the film is that of fan favorite #80 Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets.

The scene where the fake Santa is chasing Buddy had to be done in one take because it was too hard to rebuild everything.

The elf Ming Ming, who appears briefly in the beginning of the film, is played by Peter Billingsley, who starred as Ralphie Parker in the classic holiday film A Christmas Story.

Buddy's 12-second belch was supplied by voice actor Maurice LaMarche, best-known for his cartoon character, "The Brain", from Pinky and the Brain, and who also did the operatic belching in Animaniacs as "The Great Wakarotti". LaMarche also worked with Will Ferrell on the animated series, The Oblongs.

When Buddy goes to Gimbels to ask Jovie out on a date the song we hear playing over the loudspeaker is "Christmas Island" sung by Leon Redbone. Redbone also provided the voice of Leon the snowman at the North Pole.

The brief TV news clip showing Buddy walking in Central Park (just before Buddy's dad and brother find him), and the still picture of Buddy in the news clip, closely mimic the famous 1967 film of an alleged Bigfoot ("Patty") taken by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin.

The sound effect used by the jack-in-the-box is the same sound effect used by the laughing hyenas at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, FL.

Will Ferrell caused several minor traffic accidents when walking through the Lincoln Tunnel in his costume because people were so surprised to see him wearing an elf outfit.

The scene in which Buddy is on the bridge in the snow references a similar scene in Christmas favorite: It's a Wonderful Life.

The design for Santa's Workshop as well as the Elf uniforms come from the original Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) animated special. The Elf uniforms completely mirror the ones from the special. Most of the animals in the North Pole are also designed to look like the same form of stop motion animation used in Rudolph.

On the final day of shooting in New York, it was just the director, Will Ferrell, and a camera man driving around the city looking for locations to shoot. They would jump out and ask pedestrians if they would be willing to be extras for some quick cash while Ferrell paraded around acting like Buddy. Much of the montage when Buddy first arrives in New York was filmed then, such as when he is getting his shoes shined and jumping between traffic.

The cotton balls Buddy eats while in the Doctor's office were actually cotton candy simply dyed white.

Will Ferrell suffered from headaches throughout filming, as he had to actually eat all of the sugar infested foodstuffs in the Elf food pyramid on camera.

***Apparently, the scheduling thing has not been working...Sorry I missed a couple days, but hopefully I'll figure it out...Hope you'll all forgive my ludditeness!***

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