Another year has come and gone and this week we celebrate the season with Elf, the memorable Christmas movie starring Will Ferrell. Buddy the Elf has pulled at millions of heartstrings worldwide, so this week BD explains what makes Elf one of his favorite movies to watch on Christmas.
What’s up everybody, welcome back to the Devils in the details, I’m BD wishing you all, a merry Christmas and happy holidays.
Elf was released on November 7th 2003 by New Line Cinema. It was produced by “Guy walks into a bar Productions”.
The cinematography was handled by Greg Gardiner who has a pretty extensive resume including Men in Black 2.
The music, courtesy of John Debney, also with a very extensive career, in fact you can hear his latest work if you’re a fan of Seth Mcfalane’s The Orville.
Elf was given a 33 million dollar budget upon which it generated over 220 million dollars at the box office.
It eventually also spawned a very successful theatre run as a musical that ran on Broadway starting on November 10th 2010 all the way through January second 2011.
Filming for the film took place in New York City as well as in Vancouver and at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam British Colombia.
When moviemakers set out to make a Christmas movie, they generally set out to make one with staying power, one that will be pulled out every year, watched and enjoyed over and over again.
I mean let’s face it, we all have our favorites, I actually have two or three that I try to get to every year.
And then there’s the Staples, the classics, the ones you can’t deny. The ones that are still great after all these years no matter how many times you watch them.
But writing and filming a great Christmas movie isn’t an easy thing to do, there are so many ingredients that need to be just right for everything to work out once the film is ready to be edited and put together.
The music, the story, the character arcs, the casting, the directing, the freedom of creating and being allowed and encouraged to ad-lib and improvise, to be able to take something great, and make it even better.
Once it’s all done, and it’s all stitched back together, you’re completely immersed in the film. The best movies are the ones that you don’t even realize you’re watching a movie.
A great film makes you care about its characters, it’s story, and what is going to happen to everyone and how it’s story will resolve and conclude.
Elf, to me, is one of those movies. To me, it’s the perfect Christmas movie.
And of course, because of the cancer in me.
Ewww dude, no, not, no no. My sign! Kids are watching man!
Because I’m a cancer, I have an unquenchable thirst for details, a ravenous, insatiable sense of curiosity. And because of that, of course I had to go find out everything I could about this film.
Things like The cotton balls that Buddy eats while in the doctors office were actually cotton candy that had not been died yet.
The design for Santas workshop as well as the elf uniforms come from the 1964 Rudolph the rednosed reindeer tv special. The elf uniforms completely mirror the ones from that television special.
Most of the animals in the north pole are also designed to look like the same form of stop motion animation used in Rudolph.
Elf is the story about an orphaned child named Buddy. One night on Christmas Eve, in the orphanage, Buddy stowed away in Santa’s sack and ended up at the north pole.
Later as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, he felt that he needed to find his real dad, so Santa allowed him to go to New York City to search for and find his birth father, Walter Hobbs.
Hobbs, had always been on Santa’s naughty list for being a heartless jerk.
Hobbs had no idea that buddy was even born. Buddy meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City and human culture as only an elf can.
When Walters relationship with buddy interferes with his job, he’s forced to reevaluate his priorities.
David Berenbaum wrote Elf in 1996 as a spec, which is basically, a non-commissioned unsolicited screenplay.
Berenbaum, with the help of Producer John Berg spent the next few years developing the script, polishing it and shaping it into the little gem that it would eventually turn out to be.
Like most Hollywood Scripts, Elf underwent uncredited rewrites by Scott Armstrong, Chris Henchy and the writing team of Adam McKay, and Will Ferrell.
Farrell was not The first actor cast as Buddy, originally it was Jim Carrey that was attached to play the role. But Carey turned it down.
And John Favreau, who ended up in the directors chair, was not the first director that was offered the job. The offer first went to Terry Zwigoff who also turned it down in favour of filming another Christmas movie called Bad Santa.
In the special-effects department, Elf utilized quite a few different techniques to achieve their goals, such as, forced perspective, where one actor is placed in the background of a scene and the other actor is placed in the foreground, giving the illusion that the actor in the background is much smaller compared to the actor that is in the foreground but also by keeping everything in focus. essentially tricking the Eye.
I wonder if they used a multioptic diopter?
The filmmakers also used scaled down props and sets, again to make Farrell’s character seem much larger than the others.
And one of my personal favourite techniques, stop motion animation.
A fantastic cast was assembled for the film, Will Farrell’s portrayal of Buddy, the human that thinks he’s an elf despite being four feet taller than everyone else, plays Buddy with the loving optimistic innocence and naïveté you would expect from a character thrust into world he’s never seen before.
James Caan’s wonderful depiction of Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s sceptical biological father who thinks Buddy’s antics are a scam artist’s attempt at a cash grab but slowly comes to terms with the truth of who Buddy really is.
Mary Steenburgen as Emily, Buddy’s stepmother, proves that she is the only actress in America who could welcome her husband‘s out of wedlock elf into her family and make us believe she means it. Her compassion is undeniable.
We are also treated to Zooey Deschanel in the role of Jovie. The director John Favreau had no idea that Zooey was also a singer, but once he found out, he added her talent to the script.
Papa Elf, played by the illustrious Bob Newhart, captures The role of Buddy’s adoptive father convincingly, loving the human baby and raising him as if he were his own.
Daniel Tay, as Buddy’s new found brother is great, leading us through some interesting sub-plots.
Faizon Love, the extremely charismatic and hilarious manager of Gimbel’s department store had me in stitches with his deadpan deliveries.
One of my all time favourite cameos courtesy of Peter Dinklage. Highlighting one of my many favourite moments in the film.
Wrong clip Dan.
And what would a Christmas movie be without Santa, we’ll it would probably still be a Christmas movie… just one without Santa.
Ed Asner as Buddy’s mentor helps deliver the message that perhaps the world has grown too cynical, and that sometimes, you just gotta have faith.
Elf has everything that I look for in a great Christmas movie, it has a ton of heart, witty and hilarious moments, wonderful character arcs, a fresh and interesting story, three great acts that culminate in a superb ending with a light hearted message attached to it and all of it wrapped up in a great big bow.
Elf is definitely at the top of my list when asked what’s my favourite Christmas movie. What I would like to know is, which one is yours? Please let me know in the comments section down below.
I love you guys, thank you so much for your support. Don’t forget to like share and subscribe if you haven’t already. Tip of the hat to our wonderful patrons.
As the holiday season becomes busier for everyone including the team here at D.A. We will all take this opportunity to spend some time with our families and friends, and take a very short break.
This episode was brought to you by JrtcoD.
I won’t see you guys next Friday, I will however see you the following Friday. Stay safe and have fun.
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