Why ELF Is the Most Recent Christmas Classic

Buddy the Elf (played by Will Ferrell) works on an Etch A Sketch alongside fellow elves, all of whom are much smaller than Buddy, at a workshop table in the North Pole in Elf (2003)

Christmas is coming early this year, because on November 30th Elf is coming back to the big screen at Regal as part of the 2019 Classic Holiday Movies Series! There are very few movies that have been able to secure themselves a place among the ranks of holiday movie classics as quickly (and successfully) as the 2003 Christmas comedy Elf. With comedy great Will Ferrell taking on the lead role, we were given one of the most beloved holiday characters in Buddy, a human man who was raised to believe that he was one of Santa's elves in the North Pole. Bringing forward a strong sense of childlike wonder, Buddy the Elf is able to foster all of the warm and fuzzy feelings that we crave around the holiday season. 

Considering how bizarre the premise of the movie is, and having Ferrell at the helm, it’s safe to say that there was plenty of room for some hilarious writing—and this is what gave Elf it’s charm. Packed with childlike humor (and some not-so childlike) that is perfect for any age, parents and children alike find themselves doubled over watching Buddy’s Christmas antics. And though some have expressed that Buddy may not be everyone’s cup of whisky-laced coffee, we wanted to throw our Santa hat into the ring in defending Elf as the most modern entry into the Christmas movie canon.

Elf-Ferrell and Caan
Buddy (Will Ferrell) and Walter (James Caan) in Elf (2003)


Aside from being one of the most memorable Christmas movies of the modern era, it is also, coincidentally, one of the most quotable movies. There are countless great jokes and endearing moments in the movie that are just so easy to remember and quote, spanning across internet comments and even being used in our daily conversations. Some more noteworthy lines include “You sit on a throne of lies,” "Have you seen these toilets? They're GINORMOUS!" and, of course, everyone’s favorite way to answer the phone, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” 

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When you cast Will Ferrell, you can expect him to fly off script in almost every scene, and it’s his signature ad-libbing that made some of the scenes all the more unforgettable. For instance, the scene when he sings for Jovie at the mall to prove a point was totally unscripted, creating one of the funniest and more adorable bits in the movie. If you’re like us, you could sit here and quote the movie forever, and that’s exactly our point! Elf is packed full of memorable quotes and one-liners delivered by both Ferrell and the supporting cast. 

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Buddy (Will Ferrell) in Elf (2003)

Loveable Characters

Elf was so well received mainly due to its excellent casting—from Will Ferrell as the lovable protagonist to James Caan as the movie’s staple humbug, plus Zooey Deschanel and an ensemble of old and new Christmas movie icons. 

When we were graced with Buddy’s debut on the big screen, we basically saw a child in a grown man’s body sporting an elf costume who was really more of holiday superhero than anything else, complete with tights and a power to evoke joy from even the biggest Scrooge. We find joy in Buddy’s staggering holiday spirit and sense of childlike wonder and imagination, reminding us that we can never be too old to have a little Christmas cheer.

While most of the movie focuses on family and self-discovery, the introduction of Zooey Deschanel’s character as Jovie makes Elf all the more compelling to watch as it adds a bit of a romantic comedy element to the story—and as far as movie couples go, they are definitely at the top of our list. And as for the father-son relationship on screen, James Caan plays the perfect antihero in the movie. Since the actor is primarily known for his more dramatic roles including The Godfather (1972) and Misery (1990), Caan's role in Elf is fittingly the least comical of all, playing the estranged, workaholic father who has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.

Aside from the primary cast, we find a band of Hollywood icons including the legendary Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch, Mary Steenburgen as Emily, and even Leon Redbone as the voice of Leon the Snowman. 

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Michael (Daniel Tay) and Buddy (Will Ferrell) in Elf (2003)


Arguably the most important element to any iconic movie (Christmas movie or otherwise) is its measure of timelessness. This element is met time and again in Elf through the brilliantly-written script, character development, important messaging, and, of course, the fact that this movie never gets old no matter how many times you watch it! Every time you see Buddy down a liter of Cola, fight the mall Santa, or steal a kiss at the Rockefeller Plaza, you feel as though you’re seeing it for the first time. 

Probably the most important aspect of the movie is its message: to live selflessly, put family first, and that you are never too old to love Christmas! This holiday classic has brought smiles and laughter to all of us around the holidays and has helped countless adults get back in touch with their inner child. In the words of Buddy, remember to smile, stick to the four main food groups, and that "the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

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If you want to catch Elf on the big screen this holiday season, don’t miss your chance to see it at Regal on November 30th! You can also enjoy other Classic Holiday Movies each Saturday between November 30 and December 21, at 1pm local time for just $5 per ticket! Happy Holidays!

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