Elf is a brilliant combination of comedy and heartwarming christmas drama.
This film is a must watch! Having purchased Elf when it first came out (just one month ago) I have already seen it three times. It fills all of our cravings for a christmas movie by combining both the special effects from our childhood favourites (the snowman from Rudolph, for instance and the storybook narrative) as well as a few modern touches, without making it a "2003" film. I think that 10 years from now, the movie will not feel dated and will be just as enjoyable then as it is now.
Will Ferrell is a genius. Each time I rent one of his movies, I expect it to be sophomoric or stupid, and he fools me every time! "Buddy" the Elf is such a sweet, simple, endearing character and it could have gone very wrong. Rather than going for the cheap laugh and going far over the top, Will Ferrell never breaks character and makes Buddy into such a great character, that you wish that you really knew him. You will completely believe his naive, childlike demeanor and laugh when you recognize the same mistakes you may have made as a child, or silly stunts that kids do. I don't know if Will Ferrell has kids, but when he is calling for his dad to "tuck him in", he completely nailed it.
The movie is rounded out with an excellent cast...James Caan, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen, Zoey Deschanel (who sings the most beautiful duet with Will Farrell!)...each of whom brings their own key elements to the movie.
This is a great Christmas movie that should be a part of everyone's holiday collection.