Critics Consensus

A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell's funny and charming performance as one of Santa's biggest helpers.



Reviews Counted: 192

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 908,567


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.2/5

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Movie Info

For his sophomore stab at directing, actor/writer/director Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made), took on this holiday comedy starring Saturday Night Live-alum Will Ferrell. Ferrell stars as Buddy, a regular-sized man who was raised as an elf by Santa Claus (Edward Asner). When the news is finally broken to Buddy that he's not a real elf, he decides to head back to his place of birth, New York City, in search of his biological family. Elf also stars James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, and Bob Newhart. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

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James Caan
as Walter
Bob Newhart
as Papa Elf
Daniel Tay
as Michael
Faizon Love
as Gimbel's Manager
Peter Dinklage
as Mile Finch
Kyle Gass
as Eugene
Artie Lange
as Gimbels Santa
Claire Lautier
as NY 1 Reporter
Ted Friend
as NY 1 Anchor
Patrick Ferrell
as Security Guard
Patrick McCartney
as Security Guard
Annie Brebner
as Elf Student
Luke Paul
as Elf Student
Michael Roberds
as Disgruntled Cobbler Elf
Peter Hulne
as Elf Twin
Patrick Hulne
as Elf Twin
Richard Side
as Elf Teacher
Kristian Ayre
as Foom Foom
Lorin Heath
as Perfume Clerk
Brad Turner
as Office Co-Worker
David Berenbaum
as Office Co-Worker
Brenda Crichlow
as Office Co-Worker
Oscar Goncalves
as Francisco
Murray Jack
as Man in Elevator
Mark Acheson
as Mailroom Guy
Paul Schofield
as Kid with Santa
Matt Walsh
as Himself
Gus Michael
as Witness
Terry J. Scarlatos
as Police Officer
Akeen A. Smith
as School Kid
Jane Bradbury
as Susan Welles
Leon Redbone
as Leon the Snowman
Ray Harryhausen
as Polar Bear Cub
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News & Interviews for Elf

Critic Reviews for Elf

All Critics (192) | Top Critics (48)

  • While his plotting may leave a little to be desired, Favreau directs with speed, humour and efficiency.

    Dec 14, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Ferrell is a hoot. So is much of this witty holiday family entertainment, which, up until the end, when the "true spirit of Christmas" must be reaffirmed, happily favors slapstick over treacle.

    Dec 14, 2014 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • Sure, Elf feels a little too feel-good at the end, but what do you expect? It's a Christmas movie! Anything else would be the cinematic equivalent of finding coal in your stocking.

    Dec 4, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The cast wrings laughs out of David Berenbaum's script as if it were a damp washcloth, but even they have trouble selling frenetic button-pushing as the Christmas spirit.

    Dec 4, 2013 | Full Review…

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • A disarmingly funny holiday comedy.

    Sep 7, 2011 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • The film soon bogs down in fake hugs and a fakier climax involving Santa (Ed Asner) and his downed sled.

    Nov 27, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Elf

The biggest joke in the shenannigans depicted therein is that a big human being acts like a little one, perhaps THE mainstay of all Will Ferrell's material. Do you think that's funny? Well, if so, then this'll be a laff riot, because that's the entire premise here. In point of fact, nearly every joke in the film can be glossed by the film cover. "Isn't he cute?" If that doesn't crack you up (the possibility exists) then I've done you a favor. Don't mention it.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Oddly executed plot along with a joyously flare makes this Christmas comedy a success. Elf is the typical holiday film that's entertaining and strong, all thanks to a vibrant Will Ferrell. 4/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

One of the better Christmas movies. This is pretty cute and Will Farrell plays his adult moron (sorry, elf) role well. I love Zooey Deschanel as well - I would watch this just to hear her sing Baby it's Cold Outside. (I was so disappointed that on the She & Him Xmas album, the guy does the lead vocal on that song). I pretty much hate kids movies, but I have watched this one many times and enjoyed it.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Buddy is a man raised who was by Santa and his elves up in the North Pole since he was a baby finally learns the truth about his life and sets off to New York City to find his biological father in this heartwarming, whimsical, and hilarious family comedy from Jon Favreau. IThe premise is a fun take on the fish out of water tale, the script is mostly pretty sharp, and the central performance from Will Ferrell is one of the funniest comedic roles of all time. He absolutely sells it, and you honestly believe every minute of it, which is a Christmas miracle since it could have been so easy to mess up. He doesn't though, and it is an absolute joy to watch. James Caan is likewise pretty fun as Buddy's biological father Walter in the requisite Grinch/Scrooge type of role. Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Tay are decent as Walter's wife Emily and son Michael, and Zooey Deschanel is quite fine as Jovie- Buddy's love interest and co-worker at a department store. We also get Bob Newhart as Buddy's adoptive elf dad and Ed Asner as Santa. My favorite supporting character though has to be Faizon Love as the no-nonsense manager of the department store. Like I said, the script is pretty sharp for the most part, but it's not perfect. The film is rather formulaic, and some of the stuff with Michael and Jovie fall a bit flat at times. The effects are mostly good, the music is fine, and overall this is a very delightful holiday film I solidly recommend.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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