Elf - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Elf Reviews

Top Critic
David Ansen
Newsweek
December 14, 2014
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.
Top Critic
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
December 4, 2013
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.
Top Critic
Scott Tobias
AV Club
December 4, 2013
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.
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
September 7, 2011
A disarmingly funny holiday comedy.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
November 27, 2007
The film soon bogs down in fake hugs and a fakier climax involving Santa (Ed Asner) and his downed sled.
Top Critic
Trevor Johnston
Time Out
January 26, 2006
Some humour might sail over the heads of the very young, but there's a higher chuckle rate for the grown-ups than much dread 'family' fare.
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
August 7, 2004
I love watching Ferrell do his gangly, clueless shtick, and even here, there's something inherently funny about just seeing him in a big, green elf suit. There's something inherently funny about Ferrell -- period.
Top Critic
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
November 8, 2003
A movie made by people who really have their thinking caps on.
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
November 7, 2003
Ferrell's stone-stupid sincerity keeps the action moving and irresistible, despite its familiarity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
November 7, 2003
Thanks to Ferrell, it's a tolerably sweet holiday treat.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
November 7, 2003
Funny and intelligently made, a film for kids and adults that's both sweet and sardonic.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
November 7, 2003
It's Ferrell's untethered turn as Buddy that makes Elf sparkle.
| Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Lisa Rose
Newark Star-Ledger
November 7, 2003
A resounding success in the laugh department, but it tries to warm hearts as well, and eventually collapses under the weight of its own sugarplum schmaltz.
Top Critic
Megan Lehmann
New York Post
November 7, 2003
A pleasantly old-fashioned, gee-whillikers Yuletide confection rescued from Schmaltz-ville by the subversive comic talents of Will Ferrell.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Bruce Westbrook
Houston Chronicle
November 7, 2003
As an original family film for the holidays, it's fresh, timely and quite funny.
| Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
November 7, 2003
Say hello, kiddies, to the first big-hearted flick of the season. Time's up, so say goodbye and, be polite now, try to hide your mild disappointment.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
November 7, 2003
You'll laugh hard, you'll laugh often, and you'll leave wishing you still believed in Santa.
| Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
November 7, 2003
The movie sets Ferrell's assaultive and juvenile physical comedy in a less-combative playground, and the result might leave the Ferrell-intolerant exiting the theater on a high.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
November 7, 2003
It's a clumsy, tedious ride that wears out its welcome as it wears out the seat of your pants and the circulation in your lower limbs.
Top Critic
Michael Booth
Denver Post
November 7, 2003
Leaves a sour taste in the mouth and a Grinch-like resolve to sue the manufacturer.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
November 7, 2003
Short and sweet.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
November 7, 2003
Falls short of a laugh riot but proves generally pleasing nonetheless.
| Original Score: B-
Top Critic
November 7, 2003
It's irony-free fun for the whole family.
Top Critic
Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
November 7, 2003
It wiped away the Scrooge in me for 90 enchanting minutes.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
November 7, 2003
This is one of those rare Christmas comedies that has a heart, a brain and a wicked sense of humor, and it charms the socks right off the mantelpiece.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
November 7, 2003
Ferrell provides just enough humor to get us through the familiar fare and enjoy the ride.
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
November 6, 2003
Worth seeing, for one simple reason: Will Ferrell.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
November 6, 2003
A Saturday Night Live skit that goes on too long, a one-joke movie that's funny for a while but wears out its welcome.
| Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
November 6, 2003
Its message is unobjectionable, and there are a few laughs to be had, but too much of Elf is like Buddy's favorite meals: syrupy sweet.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
November 6, 2003
Making this pay off without winking at the audience is a difficult task, and 'Elf' doesn't always feel all of a piece. But in 'Saturday Night Live' alumnus and star Will Ferrell, the film has a guide who steers it unerringly over the bumpy patches.
Top Critic
Nancy Churnin
Dallas Morning News
November 6, 2003
The first charming present of the holiday movie season.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
November 6, 2003
It's a close call for a while, but at the last moment the movie finally soars.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 6, 2003
An enjoyably goofy yuletide tale of a towering innocent with a serious sugar addiction.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
John Anderson
Newsday
November 6, 2003
It is very smart, consistently very funny and, like the elevator ridden by our awestruck title character -- who wants to stop at every floor -- if you've got buttons to push, this movie will push 'em.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
November 6, 2003
A charming, silly family Christmas movie more likely to spread real joy than migraine, indigestion and sugar shock.
Top Critic
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 6, 2003
Ferrell has found the ideal starring vehicle -- and it turns out to be Santa's sleigh.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Robert K. Elder
Chicago Tribune
November 6, 2003
Formulaic but lovable.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
November 6, 2003
It's the sort of holiday treat even a Grinch would love.
| Original Score: A-
Top Critic
Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
November 5, 2003
The movie allows Favreau to gently tweak cutesy Mouse House production values without abandoning the concept, and it proves a splendid sandbox for his talents as director, actor and (who knew?) cartoonist.
Top Critic
Ed Park
Village Voice
November 4, 2003
[A] wan Christmas concoction.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
November 4, 2003
Even though [Ferrell] can't get naked or use naughty words, there's a devil of comedy in Ferrell, and he lets it out to play.
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
November 4, 2003
A feather-light motion picture that embraces the Christmas spirit, but, in the process, forgets that it's trying to be a comedy.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
November 3, 2003
The one thing we know is that Will Ferrell will take any chance possible to get a laugh in a movie and it works well here.
Top Critic
David Rooney
Variety
October 29, 2003
The sweet-natured outsider fantasy neither skimps on nor overplays its sentimentality.
Top Critic
Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
October 29, 2003
While the words 'instant holiday classic' might be pushing it, Elf is at the very least a breezily entertaining, perfectly cast family treat.