Time: 95 mins.
Favreau merges old-fashioned holiday charm with 21st century physical humor in the character of Buddy, a 30-year-old human raised by elves in the North Pole. Ferrell gives his most complete and charming performance to date, perfectly capturing the innocence and exuberance of this man-child as he journeys to find his real father. It's Ferrell's unrelenting cheerfulness and willingness to go to any lengths for a laugh that make this film so funny and entertaining. The story is a classic fish-out-of-water tale that only succeeds because of him. There's nothing terribly new about the situations Buddy finds himself in and yet Ferrell's upbeat energy gives these tired antics a fresh new life. Seeing him dressed as an elf should get old fairly quickly, but it never does. Mostly because a 6-foot man in yellow tights and a pointy hat is completely hysterical and partly because Ferrell never breaks character, creating a simple, honest, caring person you can't help but want to spend time with.
Unfortunately, his supporting cast (with the exception of Asner and Newhart) is just not up to snuff. Caan is clearly out of his element as Buddy's long lost father. Since he's blind-sided by Buddy's sudden appearance his ex-girlfriend failed to inform him she was pregnant his trepidation at welcoming a stranger into his life is fairly understandable. When the person claiming to be his son shows up dressed like an elf and believes he grew up at the North Pole, he has genuine cause for concern. That Caan looks at Ferrell like he's dog poo he just scrapped off his shoe is inexcusable. Didn't he read the script? Hey sourpuss, it's a comedy about an elf. Yes, it's silly. It's like he doesn't get the humor and would rather be enduring a root canal than playing the straight man. He's supposed to be a curmudgeon, but his half-hearted rants and ho-hum attitude ruin every scene he's in. Clearly he took the job for the paycheck. Steenburgen, as Buddy's new step-mom, Deschanel, as his love interest and Tay, as his little brother, all handle their duties with grace and humor; though ultimately fail to keep up with Farrell. Not an east task to be sure. Asner and Newhart are the only ones who seem to believe in this story as much as Ferrell, but it's probably easier to buy into such a tale when you're playing Santa or an elf.