There are only 48 sleeps until Christmas Day so you know what that means? It’s socially acceptable to start watching Christmas films again!
The question is, of course, where do you start? There are so many classic festive feature films to choose from after all, and picking the right Christmas movie to begin your inevitable binge is an important part of getting into the spirit of the season.
Might you start with a golden oldie like It’s A Wonderful Life? Something more modern like Love Actually? Or perhaps you like your yuletide a bit edgier and would prefer Krampus or Black Christmas?
Well for me there’s only one film that’s best to start spreading Christmas cheer and it’s got Zooey Deschanel singing loud for all to hear! That’s right it’s 2003’s Elf!
Elf, directed by the great Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrell as the titular Buddy the Elf (what’s your favourite colour?), is the obvious place to begin your mega merry movie marathon.
Why? Well grab your plate of spaghetti, candy and pop tarts, and get comfortable because I’m about to take you on a journey through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, and across the sea of swirly-twirly gumdrops to enlightenment.
We’ll get the dull stuff out of the way first. Elf has been recognised by a number of publications as being one of the best Christmas movies ever made.
Even the good folk over at The Guardian (shout out to our boy Jim) took a break from eating quinoa and being jolly serious journalists to vote it the fourth best Christmas film.
Some have gone further though. In a study conducted last year, Fandango polled over 1,000 film fans to determine their favourite Christmas film made in the 21st Century, and the winner was… Elf.
In a statement about Elf’s victory Erik Davis, Fandango’s Managing Editor said:
Elf is the most beloved holiday movie in my household because it’s a film that makes you feel warm, happy and silly, and everyone needs some of that come the holidays. That, plus Will Ferrell’s elf antics will never get old!
It’s not just journalists, managing editors and critics who love Elf, people with real jobs do too!
According to CinemaBlend the most popular film to watch around the holidays is Elf, which beat stiff competition from Home Alone, The Snowman, and even The Muppets Christmas Carol.
Of course, that’s all well and good but the question is why do I love Elf so much? Well, there’s one simple reason, to paraphrase Buddy ‘it makes me smile and smiling is my favourite’.
That may sound glib but it’s actually true. From the moment I put the film on I just can’t stop smiling, everything about it’s just infused with joy and excitement.
I love how absurd the plot is, it’s absolutely bonkers and shouldn’t work but despite the ludicrous premise it just does because Favreau’s made it so warm.
It helps of course that Elf is wonderfully funny mostly because of Will Ferrell, who at over 6ft has the perfect physicality for a deluded elf .
Will also imbues the character with such a likeable, excited, energy it’s impossible to hate him regardless of how irritating he can get, and trust me when I say Buddy the Elf’s more irritating than a curious kid who’s just eaten a whole tub of Quality Street.
Elf’s supporting cast aren’t a bunch of cotton headed ninny muggins either. Each of them, from James Caan to Zooey Deschanel, give pitch perfect performances which help to ground the film’s more fantastical moments.
The film’s also wonderfully and infinitely quotable. My family’s favourite line will always be when Buddy excitedly answers the phone in his dad’s office and asks whoever is on the other end, ‘what’s your favourite colour?’
In fact this line led to a brief period of time when every time my sister answered the phone she started every conversation with: ‘Buddy the Elf what’s your favourite colour?’, a feat made more impressive by the fact she worked in a call centre at the time.
What I like best about Elf though is how uncynical it is. It’s a film completely devoid of pretence which wears it’s central message as proudly as Buddy the Elf wears his bright green uniform.
Namely don’t be afraid to love things, laugh at the silliness of life and smile when your happy. Make time for your family and don’t be afraid of change. But most of all sing loudly because the best way to spread cheer is by singling loudly for all to hear.
Elf is available on DVD now so if you don’t own it treat yo’ self tis the season after all… nearly.
More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.