As a baby in an orphanage, Buddy crawls into Santa’s sack by accident one Christmas Eve. Upon arrival back at the North Pole, the Buddy crawls out of the sack, and is raised by Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) just like any other young elf - except that he grows to be over 6 feet tall. Due to his seemingly enormous height and lack of toy-making skills, Buddy knows that he is different than the other elves; so when Santa tells him that he is actually human, he isn’t too surprised. Buddy then sets out on a journey to find his biological father (James Caan) in New York City.
Buddy has been raised with the happy spirit of a Christmas elf, and has no experience with the world outside Santa’s workshop. When Buddy finally gets to the Big Apple, he’s so overwhelmed with all of the new sights and smells and tastes. Like a small child, we see Buddy explore New York, running around and around in revolving door or hopping across cross walks. Will Ferrell plays the part with such juvenile zest for life and experience, a massive smile rarely leaving his face – but then again that could just be because of all the candy he consumes.
All of the characters are so well cast that we actually believe the human components of this fantastical Christmas tale. This is just part of what makes it stand out from the rest, when you add on the subtle charm and wonderful laughs, this makes for a great holiday film. Will Ferrell is outstanding as Buddy, and his naive interactions with the hustle of New York are comedic gold, his timing near perfect here. Ending in a climax on Christmas Eve that surrounds the loss of belief in Santa Clause, Buddy pulls his new friends and family together to save Christmas for everyone. Jon Favreau’s Elf pulls off all that a good holiday comedy needs; it's funny, well cast, and contains heart beneath the jokes. This is a wonderful Christmas movie.