Written by Kai Sanchez
As November comes to a close and Mariah Carey continues to defrost, many people, myself included, are starting to delve into the world of Christmas movies. There are a large number of movies which are iconic to the season: A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Santa Clause, and Home Alone are all among my favorites. However, when discussing our favorite holiday movies with friends, I discovered a large discrepancy in our opinion of the movie Elf (2003). Namely, I think it’s entirely overrated, and extremely boring.
Elf was released in 2003, two decades ago, and you can definitely tell when you watch the movie. However, I don’t have a bias against old movies: Home Alone was released in 1990 and I rewatch it every year. However, while Home Alone retains its humor decades after its release, Elf has aged into a much more mediocre watch. The plot of Elf is entirely predictable and formulaic: Buddy, played by Will Ferell, discovers he’s not an actual elf but a human instead. So he goes on a quest to New York City to find his father and spread holiday magic. As soon as the story is laid out, all the following plot beats can be inferred. Buddy’s father isn’t going to accept him at first, mid way through the story there will be a big fight, but by the end they’ll become a happy family unit.
Furthermore, the reliance on exaggerated, slapstick humor does nothing but remind me of the movie’s age. Will Ferrell’s performance has a strong lack of nuance, Buddy is endlessly over the top and childlike with very little reprieve. It may be funny to a younger audience, but I don’t think a holiday classic should only be enjoyable for a certain age group. I can only watch Buddy misunderstand things for so long before I get tired of it.
And it isn’t like the movie has other characters to fall back on when Buddy is overwhelming me. Jovie, Buddy’s love interest, is the first woman he comes across and immediately falls in love with. I understand the movie tried to do an “opposites attract” trope but because Buddy is so much to handle, and Jovie is so little, their energy ends up working against each other rather than with each other. Paired with the fact I guessed Walter, Buddy’s dad, character arc before it happened, the movie ends up clogged full of characters I don’t care about watching.
While Elf may be on some people’s list of must-watch holiday movies, I personally will not be joining the viewing party. There are countless other Christmas movies that offer a better blend of humor, heart, and original ideas that I would love to watch instead.