Elf (2003)

(On DVD, March 2005) There are two movies warring for attention here: An innocent kid’s film about the meaning of Christmas through the antics of an elf lost in New York, and a silly comedy that has to please the adult fans of Will Ferrell. No surprise, then, if the film gives out such a mixed impression. Parts of it work, but they come from different films. Ferrell is sweetness incarnate as the Elf lost in New York, but Elf is equal part amusement and embarrassment as he’s confronted with the very grown-up streets of New York City. The romance and the last-act thriller may have worked in other contexts, but here they just feel forced and badly integrated to a kid’s film. Not entirely pleasant to watch nor particularly funny, Elf exists in a demimonde of conflicting goals. Only Ferrell’s compelling performance saves it from complete disinterest.

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