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“Elf” Review: A First-Time Viewer’s Honest Thoughts

Christmas season officially began at 12:00 this morning (and if you disagree with me you’re weird). So, to celebrate, after 17 years of never having seen it from start to finish, I sat down and watched the movie “Elf” in full for the first time. Shoutout to fellow CGS writer Jess Donahue for pestering me endlessly until I finally gave in! I can’t be the only one out there who’d never seen it, and given how the only time I hear people talk about it is to hype it up seemingly, I decided to give my honest thoughts on it. There are spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk if you haven’t seen it!

Cotton-Headed Ninnymungus Is My New Favorite Insult

The first time “Elf” had me laughing was at the beginning when Buddy called himself a cotton-headed ninnymungus. I’ll be using that as an insult from here on out, so beware. That laughter was quickly supplemented by the laughable special effects. They’re horrible throughout the entire movie. It looks like it was made in the 1980s, not 2003. While I get that they probably didn’t have the biggest budget, the technology existed, and it’s really not hard to make it look like it wasn’t made by a five-year-old. But, I guess I’m glad that they were at least laughably bad and not frustrating bad!

Moving on, Buddy’s initial arrival in New York is entertaining as well. I had seen the raccoon scene before, but it’s still funny.  Plus, I feel Buddy’s pain. I’d like to hug a raccoon too. They’re quite cute. But, they’re extremely mean, as Buddy found out, so obviously, I won’t be doing that. Another part of the arriving in New York sequence that I found funny was the revolving door part because honestly, same. While Buddy was screaming for the fun of it, I’d be internally screaming out of frustration. I am not proud of how often I’ve run into one because I wasn’t paying attention.

Same, Jovie. Same.

The next several minutes were very “eh” for me. Nothing memorable happens, and unfortunately, that’s a lot of the movie. However,  there are enough funny parts sprinkled throughout to help it. The next part that I remember was when we first meet Zooey Deschanel’s character, Jovie, because she was all too relatable for me at that moment. I too would’ve wanted to get away with Buddy and refused to sing because, as she said, there’s a big difference between singing alone and in front of people. I know I’ll never sing in front of others unless it’s at a concert where no one can hear me because, well, no one wants to hear it.

Mall Santas Are Fake?!

The next part of “Elf” that I remember shocked me to my very core. Mall Santas are fake! Who knew?! In all seriousness, I hope little kids who still believe mall Santas are real don’t watch the movie, because it’d stink if that’s what ruined it for them. Granted, I don’t think many kids that age would have the attention span for this movie, but still. 

Another thing that I just have to get out there is Walter Hobb’s wife, Emily, is far more tolerant than I ever would be. If anybody ever came in my house and talked as much seemingly crazy as Buddy did, I would’ve chased them out with a broom as crazy ladies do in cartoons. Yes, it’s just a movie, and it’s unlikely anyone would ever act like that in real life, but I just had to get that out there. Also, a little later, when Walter tells Buddy that he wants him to lose the tights immediately, he really should’ve known he’d strip down right then and there. Again, just had to get that comment off my chest.

Buddy’s First Day At Work Went… Great

Probably the next time “Elf” made me laugh was what felt like quite sometime later, once Michael and Buddy became friends and were putting up the tree. Buddy’s attempt to get the star on the tree was classic. It reminds me of the time my brother made a similarly dumb move and our tree fell on him. He didn’t jump on it as Buddy did, but he did jump to try and reach a branch, grabbed it, and as you can probably imagine, it didn’t end well. 

Buddy’s first day at work was also pretty funny, especially once he was down in the mailroom. When he said “it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me,” I felt that. It’s reminiscent of my high school, except instead of mushrooms it smells like body odor (among some other unpleasant things) and I probably look like I want to hurt them as much as they look like they want to hurt me. Buddy getting drunk with one of the other workers was also hilarious. Buddy’s dance moves in particular were exquisite. I blew out my knee just watching him.

Some Very Predictable Moments Follow

Not long after the mailroom, there’s a string of extremely predictable and at least somewhat cheesy moments. I knew from the moment Miles walked in that Buddy would see him and think he’s an elf, and then Miles would beat Buddy up. Also, I could see Walter snapping at Buddy and telling him to leave coming from a mile away, just like I saw Walter choosing Michael over money and then they go chase after Buddy coming. I know it’s a Christmas movie, so I shouldn’t expect expert storytelling, but still. It makes the movie less enjoyable when you see big moments, especially one that’s supposed to be funny like Miles beating up Buddy, coming for quite some time.

The ending was exactly what I expected it to be too. But, I was fine with that because how else was it going to end? It certainly wasn’t going to end with Christmas being ruined. It’d be a terrible Christmas movie if it did. So, I’ll let that one slide.

Overall, “Elf” is a Decent But Overrated Movie

Overall, “Elf” is a pretty good movie. I enjoyed it for the most part, although there were a few long stretches where nothing really interesting happened. However, I do think that it’s rather overrated. It just doesn’t live up to all the hype it gets for me. People make it out to be an amazing, absolutely hysterical movie. Several people even refer to it as the best Christmas movie out there. It just isn’t that in my opinion. It’s funny at times, but I can’t say I was ever laughing much above a chuckle while the moments I mentioned above were happening. As for it being the best Christmas movie, I think I have to disagree with that, although I’m admittedly not sure which one I’d pick as my favorite. But, there are others that I’ve seen that I’ve enjoyed more.

However, as I said above, I did enjoy the movie. I’ll probably watch it again at some point, and I’d even recommend giving it a watch. However, just be warned that it’s unlikely to live up to all the hype it gets. I didn’t think it would for me, as it would’ve been really hard-pressed to, especially since I’m not a huge Will Ferrell fan. But, it is definitely worth 97 minutes of your time. If nothing else, you’ll be able to say you’ve seen it and people won’t bug you to watch it anymore!

-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)

Featured image courtesy of New Line Cinema via metro.co.uk.

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