What a nostalgic favorite! I hadn’t seen this movie since I was a kid, but it still made me laugh and feel good just as much as the first time I saw it. I think this time around, though, I noticed a lot more than I did as a kid, both about the actors, the storyline, and other more subtle aspects.
Will Ferrell is still hilarious, as he always is. But this time, I really noticed his acting skills and timing a lot more than I had appreciated it before. He is so good at being awkward in a funny way that just rests on the edge of being unwatchably cringy, which is very impressive. His character is difficult to play, because he is supposed to be a person who is trying only to be nice but manages to insult many people. Ferrell is quite good at saying not very nice things in the nicest way. When he calls Miles Finch, (the writer called into his dad’s office for help) an elf, we can see how insulted he is. But Ferrell makes it absolutely clear that Buddy, his character, does not mean it in an unkind way at all. Ferrell also is good at making his lines sound fresh and original. For example, when he sings (both in his dad’s office and in the store), it absolutely sounds just made up on the spot, despite being an actual part of the movie.
I also love that the focus of the storyline is not actually Christmas itself, but what the holiday season is supposed to represent- feeling loved with your family or chosen family. The movie does end with Santa needing the Christmas spirit to make his sleigh work, but that is not a focus or a main plot line until the very end. The actual point of the movie is to show that love is real and abundant, even if it is not there at first or not obvious. That is a wonderful message to send across.
There were also some things that I definitely did not notice the first time around, like how it is kind of creepy the way Buddy would not leave Jovie alone at first, even though he really did not have malicious intentions. I also did not realize that was Zooey Deschanel with blonde hair! I also noticed this time the cool perspective work they did to make all the elves look so much shorter than Buddy, despite the fact that they were regular-sized people. I was looking closely when someone was standing behind Buddy, patting him on the back, and I could really tell that he must have been far away, because his hand did not look like it reached Buddy at all. However they hid it very well, because that was the first time I had even thought about this idea. Also, when Buddy is sitting on his elf-father’s lap, there must have been a different set of legs directly under him, and the actual actor playing his father was sitting much further back which was a very cool effect! I definitely had not noticed this as a kid at all.
This movie definitely gets my star of approval, for its humor, clever filming, and the overall fuzzy feeling of love it projects. A great movie to curl up on the couch and watch with some hot chocolate and a blanket during the holiday season, for sure.