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Elf
DVD disk
11.16.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Elf order
Director:
Jon Favreau

Actors:
Will Ferrell
James Caan
Zooey Deschanel

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Thirty years after accidentally crawling into Santa’s bag while the latter was making his annual delivery at the orphanage, Buddy (Ferrell) finally learns that he might not really belong in the North Pole and worst, that his 6-foot frame might not really be that of an elf. Shocked by this new knowledge, Buddy heads to Manhattan to find his real-life Papa.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
In the grand tradition of the very best Christmas movies, ELF has instantly become one of those flicks that will have people pining for it every holiday season. It has all the elements you could want that fit right in with that time of the year: friendly characters, lots of snow and a hard heart just waiting to be softened by the magic that Christmas brings round each December. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it’s also downright hilarious! Will Ferrell is probably the most precious commodity Hollywood has to offer right now in terms of comedy and his goofball act fits right in as he portrays an overgrown and overly friendly Elf left to fend for himself in the most dog-eat-dog city in the world. If ever you could paint a picture of a fish out of water, this would be it (unless of course you painted an actual fish… out of water). Favreau put together a fantastically adorable little story that is suitable for little kids and a lot of fun for us old folks. The slapstick comedy is blended perfectly with the subtlety of some of the jokes and the whole package is just a riot. Surrounded by the stern-faced Caan as his birth father, the hilarious Bob Newhart (in an elf suit no less) as his adoptive dad and the lovely Zooey Deschanel as the cute girl who works the Christmas season at the local department store, Ferrell just takes this one by the throat and leads us all into a fun ride of hilarity. There’s very little that can be seen as bad with this flick although it will take a predisposition to the genre to enjoy it. This film has a few scenes in it that will quickly become the kind people talk about while snickering and asking their pals if they remember it, sort of like the American Pie Apple pie scene except actually funny. Make sure you catch this one if you have the chance, it’ll really be worth your while.
THE EXTRAS

infinifilm Features

Most of the features below can be view either individually or using the infinifilm viewing method. This allows you to watch the movie normally and whenever something comes up, the screen will indicated and if you choose you can click you remote and be transported immediately to that clip. For example an icon will flash were a scene was deleted and you’ll be able to see that deleted scene in the space where it would have been in the film. Pretty cool as a novelty but if you ask me, I still prefer going through them the old fashioned way.

 

Beyond the Movie Features

Kids on Christmas (Disc 2, 6 mins): This clip abounds with cuteness as a bunch of little kids give their two bits about what Christmas means to them. It was sort of nice to hear little tykes talk about toys and cookies and such but then it became sort of sad when you realized that none of them said a word about the true meaning of Christmas.

Deck the Halls (Disc 2, 10 mins): This one just blew me away! It a visit in a couple of neighborhoods in the US in which the folks make it an annual ritual to take Christmas decorations to the next level. Some of these people literally start the day after they remove their Halloween decorations and are still working on it while the egg nog is getting boozed up. So many lights it makes my little Christmas tree look like Charlie Brown’s!

Santa Mania (Disc 2, 6 mins): Like the Kids on Christmas feature, this gets people’s take on what Santa means to them. There’s a particularly touching moment in there when an old dude almost breaks down when talking about pleasure he gets from the kids during the few hours every year he spends dressed up as Santa. It’s really nice to see the Christmas Spirit still alive and well in so many.

Christmas in Tinseltown (Disc 2, 7 mins): If there’s one town that can take celebration and run with it, then Hollywood is that town. This vignette shows the different extravagant ways Hollywood has of celebrating Yuletide every year. What a party!

Fact Track (Disc 1, full length): This pop-up fact track will flash info about the movie on the bottom of your screen. No gems but a couple of nuggets.

All-Access Pass Features

Commentary by Director Jon Favreau (Disc 1, full length): I’ve never been a huge fan of Favreau as an actor (I may well be the one person I know who can’t get more than five minutes into SWINGERS) but I’ve always felt he came a cross as a decent guy and his commentary track just reinforced that along with giving out the impression of a very competent and meticulous filmmaker. It was an interesting and enjoyable track if fairly standard.

Commentary by star Will Ferrell (Disc 1, full length): Will Ferrell is just one funny guy and you get what you’d expect in this track. The only thing I wondered about was whether it would have been that tough to get him and Favreau in the same room and to combine these two commentary tracks into one.

Deleted / Alternate Scenes (Disc 1, 12 mins): You’ll get eight separate scenes, each available with optional commentary by Favreau. Mostly, it’s stuff that really didn’t have much appeal to begin with and was rightfully left on the cutting room floor but a hilarious scene in particular shows Buddy wrecking all the other elves during the hockey game. Favreau says he removed it because it looked like he was really hurting the other elves. He’s absolutely right!

Behind the Scenes (Disc 1, 58 mins): This is a set of five documentaries basically relating the making of the movie. You can listen to all of them together or skip to each of them separately.

  • Tag Along with Will Ferrell (7 mins): You’ll get to hang out with Ferrell on set and get a glimpse of what his daily routine. Hair, makeup, wardrobe and all the rest of the not-so-glamorous side of movie-making will be yours to discover.
  • Film School for Kids (20 mins): This is a basic explanation to the uninitiated about what exactly it is that happens on a movie set and about all the people that are involved behind the scenes. You’ll get to tag along with the staff and see what they all do.
  • How They Made the North Pole (12 mins): One of the catchiest parts of this movie was the distinctive look of the North Pole and the elves at the beginning of the film. This featurette delves into the production design of the North Pole sets and explains how everything came together for the end product. There’s also a bit about costumes and some other aspects but expect to see a lot of talk about wood, Styrofoam and fake snow.
  • Lights, Camera, Puffin! (7 mins): The North Pole sequence also had a number of very cool little animals who helped Buddy along the way. Interestingly enough, Favreau stayed away from CGI as much as he could and all these little critters were realized using the tried and true technique of stop-motion animation. The people who made it happen explain just how in this short and very interesting vignette.
  • That’s a Wrap… (12 mins): No making of feature is complete without the mandatory section on post-production and the usual emphasis placed on this being the “real place where a movie is made.” Favreau and his crew walk us through the process which although quite important, usually makes for a slightly less entertaining featurette.
  • Film Dictionary (text): This is a twelve-page dictionary of insider terms about filmmaking. For example if you turn to the word “hack”, you’ll find a picture of Indiana Sev.

Music from Elf (45 mins): This was a fairly new and enjoyable feature. You get a menu listing all the musical selections from the movie and by clicking on each of them, you’ll get an explanation from Jon Favreau about just why he decided on that piece of music for a particular scene. It runs a bit long but you can access each of them individually so pick the ones you liked and enjoy.

Fun ‘N’ Games (30 mins):  This one’s for the kids and they’ll be able to enjoy a couple of little games and songs. Beside an Elf Karaoke section and a Read-Along Story, there’s a set of little games to play with your DVD player remote control that they can spend a few minutes on.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This flick is going to be one of those that you feel like coming back to every year when the flakes start hitting the ground. It’s really a worthwhile buy too since it comes in an awesome DVD package that has plenty of features and plenty of entertainment. Go ahead and stuff this one into your own stocking this year (although make sure you pay for it first, Christmas in the slammer just isn’t the same).
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