Holiday Viewing: Elf

One for the whole family

Christmas season at my parents’ house always meant time spent with family (my mom being my favorite, of course), preparing and eating good food (mostly made by my mom), and watching movies and our favorite shows.

I’m the youngest and my mom was in her 40s when I was born, so there was a good-sized generation gap. My taste has always leaned toward the work of David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and Stanley Kubrick while my mom’s taste was more conservative (musicals, Jimmy Stewart, and the like). While she did turn me on to classics like North by Northwest and Casablanca, there was not a lot of crossover in our filmic Venn diagram.

Making a great film that appeals to viewers of all ages is a difficult feat – you want one that’s smart enough for adults and silly enough for kids while also keeping too-cool-for-school teenagers engaged. The holiday film that achieves this best, in my mind, is the 2003 Jon Favreau film Elf starring America's favorite lovable goofball, Will Ferrell.

After sneaking into Santa’s bag at an orphanage and ending up at the North Pole, oversized Buddy (Ferrell) tries his best to fit in with the elves in Santa’s Workshop. Failing to fit in, he is sent to New York City to try to bond with his grumpy biological father, played by James Caan. Comedic hijinks and the spreading of much holiday cheer ensues.

Favreau along with a cast including Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, and Mary Steenburgen created a classic holiday film that everyone from the youngest babe to grandma can enjoy. A true holiday miracle.

Elf screens at the Paramount Theatre tonight (Dec. 5) at 8:15pm; costumes encouraged.
The Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz's
Elf Movie Party – featuring props and a “real” snowball fight – also takes place tonight, at 7pm, with additional showings throughout the month.
Don't mind commercials? Freeform is airing
Elf throughout the month, including at 3:45pm this afternoon.

Throughout December, the Chronicle film team is highlighting some of our favorite seasonal film and TV offerings. Find a new recommendation every day at our Holiday Movie Advent Calendar.

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More Christmas movies
Holiday Viewing: <i>The Thin Man</i>
Holiday Viewing: The Thin Man
A merry, blotto Christmas (mind the dead body in the bedroom)

Kimberley Jones, Dec. 25, 2017

Holiday Viewing: <i>A Christmas Carol</i>
Holiday Viewing: A Christmas Carol
In this season of giving, who is the best Scrooge?

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 24, 2017

More by Mark Fagan
Fall Concerts to Add to Your Calendar
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Paul McCartney, the Jesus Lizard, and Saturnalia make the list

Sept. 4, 2018

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St. Vincent, the Breeders, and Parquet Courts head the list

Aug. 21, 2018


Christmas movies, Elf, holiday movies, Jon Favreau, Will Ferrell, Holiday Movie Advent Calendar

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