Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Top 25 Christmas Movies List: #8 Elf

Elf (2003)

      While Santa (Ed Asner) is delivering toys to an orphanage, a curious baby crawls inside his gift sack. Unbeknown to Santa, he takes the baby back to the North Pole with him where it is then decided that Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) will raise him. They name him Buddy because he was wearing 'Little Buddy Diapers'.

   Buddy is raised as if he is an elf and is unaware that he is in fact human. Until one day he overhears some elves discussing his poor toy-making abilities and they blame it on the fact that he is human. He confronts Papa Elf and he tells Buddy the truth about how he came to the North Pole. He also tells him about his parents and how his biological father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan), is on Santa's Naughty List. Buddy then sets out for New York to find Walter.

   The naive Buddy arrives in New York and finds his father working in the Empire State Building. Walter mistakes him for a singing telegram but then Buddy reveals that he's his long-lost son. Walter thinks that Buddy is crazy and has security escort him out of the building. The security guard sarcastically tells him to "Get back to Gimbel's" (because of the elf outfit Buddy is wearing) and he takes his advice and heads directly there.

   The department store Gimbel's assumes that Buddy is an employee and one of "Santa's" helpers. He stays in the store overnight and properly decorates it for the holiday season. In the morning, he has a run in with the shy Jovie, a Gimbel's gift-wrapper that Buddy is fond of. While working with the store Santa, Buddy discovers he is not who he says it is and reveals the imposter to all the children that have been waiting in line. A fight ensues and Buddy is arrested. Walter, being the closest relative, bails him out and takes him to a pediatrician for a DNA test. It proves that Buddy is in fact Walter's son and so he takes him home to meet the rest of the family. Buddy is happily welcomed by his new step-mother, Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and brother, Michael (Daniel Tay), but Walter is mostly annoyed by his childish ways.

   The next day, Walter reluctantly takes Buddy to work with him and has him assigned to the mailroom. He gets drunk on whiskey, believing it to be "syrup" and throws a party. Later that night, he goes on his first date with Jovie and she kisses him.

   During this time, Walter has been trying to save his publishing business and is desperately needing to hire Miles Finch, a temperamental writer. Upon meeting Miles, Buddy mistakes him for an elf and Miles attacks him then storms out. Walter becomes infuriated and tells Buddy to "get out of his life" and calls him crazy. Buddy writes a note then runs away. Michael later finds this letter and reads it to Walter. He convinces him to leave his important meeting so that they can find Buddy resulting in Walter being fired from his job.

   Meanwhile, Buddy is in Central Park when he sees Santa's sleigh crash. He finds the sleigh and Santa explains that there is not enough Christmas Spirit left to keep the sleigh flying. Buddy tries to help him fix it. Walter and Michael find Buddy and he takes them to meet Santa. Michael steals Santa's list (a large book) and reads it in front the news cameras that have gathered at Central Park.

   Back at Santa's sleigh, the Park Rangers have spotted Buddy and Santa and are now chasing down the sleigh while Buddy is trying to reattach the engine but as they are flying too low, they hit a statue and the engine is knocked off.

   But Jovie, remembering that Buddy had told her how singing was the best way to spread the joy of Christmas, quickly overcomes her shyness and begins singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". The crowd joins her and even Walter gets into the mood and sings along. They create enough Christmas Spirit to power Santa's sleigh even without an engine.

   The film ends showing that Walter starts his own publishing company and the first book is based on Buddy's life. Buddy and Jovie get married and have a daughter name Susie and they often visit Papa Elf and the North Pole.

   This is a fun-filled, silly Christmas movie that is fast becoming a favorite. Watch it with your family this holiday season for a good laugh.

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