Elf Jon Favreau

Elf Jon Favreau
For the past several years, Christmas films have either been unbearable piles of sap or tailored to the tastes of eight year olds. Like the holiday, films that have a Christmas theme have lost the magic in exchange for merchandise tie-ins and recycling plots of films that got it correct decades ago. Director Jon Favreau has made it clear in the style and warmth of Elf that he is trying to recreate that classic element long lost in modern Hollywood films while doing it with an original script. A child crawls into Santa's toy sack while he makes a delivery at an orphanage, unknowingly taking the baby back to the North Pole, and the elves name him Buddy after the brand his nappies. Will Ferrell, in his first leading and breakthrough role, plays Buddy the misinformed "elf," who hasn't clued in that he's human. When he's finally told he's not a true elf and was left for adoption 30 years ago, he sets out on a quest to find his biological father and this is where things get good. You would think the joke of Ferrell dressed in bright yellow tights and an elf hat would grow thin, but his capturing of a child's imagination and behaviour wins you. Ferrell's backed-up by very strong co-stars such as Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart and Peter Dinklage. The DVD is jam-packed but geared towards children, with a few games that are actually tricky. Winning all four gives you a code to ride the "Secret Elevator O' Fun," where you ride 22 mystery "floors" ranging from animations to clips from the film. Ferrell and Favreau give commentaries but on separate tracks, which is a big disappointment as together they would have been hysterical. The "making of" featurette is long and detailed, but even though somewhat aimed towards children, it serves as a full-blown look into how the film was constructed. Elf is presented in "infinifilm" which is one of the worst things to happen to DVD. Deleted scenes such as Buddy breaking tiny bones playing on an elf hockey team require a bit of digging to get around infinifilm, but the menus are so beautifully animated like a pop-up book that you might not mind. A wonderful and hysterical Christmas film, but the DVD dressings are a little too dumbed down for adults. (Alliance Atlantis)