Elf [2003]

Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 95 minutes

Harry Connick Jr., whose original song "The Happy Elf" inspired this cheerful, animated Christmas special, provides the voice of a narrator straightening out a couple of misguided kids who think they've got Santa fooled about their naughty-or-nice status. Connick's character tells them about Eubie, the North Pole elf whose constant exuberance wears others down but which gives Santa an idea: send Eubie to Bluesville, where joy is squelched by a repressive town authority. There, Eubie meets up with a secret movement to bring happiness to Bluesville, and ultimately does Santa proud. The Happy Elf's computer animation evokes the look of those 1960s stop-motion classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, though movement is much more fluid and dimension greater. Still, this is an effort to create a new classic, and with vocal performances that include Mickey Rooney (as Santa) and Lewis Black, and some charming songs, The Happy Elf could be a perennial Christmas entertainment. --Tom Keogh

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