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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Spoof > Holiday > Christmas > Elf – Ultimate Collector’s Edition (2003/Warner Blu-ray in Tin Package)

Elf – Ultimate Collector’s Edition (2003/Warner Blu-ray in Tin Package)


Picture: B-     Sound: B     Extras: B-     Film: B



Quite frankly I find Will Ferrell’s films formulaic and not very inventive, but every now and then he strikes gold.  So with this it is no surprise that he just appeared on the “Most Over Paid Actors” list.  He does bring numbers at the box office, but at the same time he has had a number of flops as well.  I did enjoy his voice work on The Oblongs, his independent work on FunnyorDie.com, and even thoroughly enjoyed Anchor Man.  Overall, however, the problem with Will Ferrell is he doesn’t know how to play anything but Will Ferrell; with the same mannerisms and goofy demeanor, without any true depth or substance.  Even the deeper, darker Stranger than Fiction was a flop as he faded in and out of his standard Will Ferrell formula.  The film reviewed here, however, someone how lent itself perfectly to Ferrell’s personality.  Elf is a brilliant film that overflows with holiday spirit and this reviewer is more than certain that it will join the not so long list of films that are Christmas standards.


The story of Elf chronicles a the life of Buddy (Will Ferrell), who as a baby snuck into Santa’s (Ed Asner) sack when he was delivering presents and in turn was raised by elves at the North Pole.  The elf that Buddy lovingly calls papa is played by the brilliant Bob Newhart, who loved Buddy even through the toughest of times.  You see, since Buddy was NOT an elf and instead a human boy being raised as an elf he quickly outgrew his peers and even with a big heart and overwhelming holiday spirit, Buddy just never measured up (down?) to his fellow elves.  Once Buddy is old enough Papa informs him that his real father (James Caan) lives in New York City as a wealthy publishing executive named Walter Hobbs.  Buddy sets out on an adventure to New York to reconnect with his true father with the hope of finally finding his place in the world.  Along the way Buddy has a number of odd and humorous encounters including plenty of misunderstandings and finding a holiday job in a department store.  Zooey Deschanel stars as Will Ferrell’s fellow employee and love interest.


The film is hilariously funny and manages to combine a creative story along with fresh comedy.  Will Ferrell may be up to his old tricks, but it works and Buddy the Elf’s dimwitted, yet lovable demeanor is brought to life.  A future Christmas classic for the whole family.


I would like to report that this “Ultimate Edition” is an upgrade from the previous release, but sadly it is just the former release in a cheap cookie tin.  The picture has its issues in its 1080p AV-1 encoded format, but overall has bright colors, solid blacks, and crisp detail.  There are artifacts here and there along with certain soft scenes, the shadowing is off as is the use of DNR.  The sound is a Dolby 5.1 TrueHD that is impressive compared to other nauseating Dolby Digital releases, but still does not compare to DTS.  Dialogue is crisp, clean and always prioritized but fails to impress as the soundscape is lacking often times sounding messy rather than immersive.  At best I can call the sound limited by production design.


The extras include two Audio Commentaries that respectively feature director Jon Favreau and the other Will Ferrell that are adequate at best, but would have been better as a round table discussion.  There are a plethora of featurettes including “How they met at the North Pole”; “Tag Along with Will Ferrell”; “That’s a Wrap”; “Lights Camera Puffin”; “Film School for Kids”; “Kids on Christmas”; “Deck the Halls”; “Santa Mania”; “Christmas in Tinseltown.”  The featurettes are a mix of short “Behind the Scenes” looks and other bits of how the magic of Elf was brought to life.  Other extras include Deleted/Alternate Scenes, Elf Karaoke, Trivia Track, Trailer, Focus Points (behind the scenes info).  Overall, the extras aren’t the best ever, but they are plentiful and offer plenty to enjoy.


There is no real reason to upgrade to this set and the items included inside the tin (To/From Stickers, CD soundtrack demo, Buddy the Elf Stocking and Magnet) are pretty useless to boot.  If you did not purchase the previous release, then perhaps this will please the collector in you, but otherwise stick with the previous release.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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