The A to Z index of the best Christmas movies of all time - top ten - 10 wicked films







Some of Jimmy Watson's friends, with the Magic Dinobot




Elf is a 2003 American Christmas comedy film directed by Jon Favreau and written by David Berenbaum. It stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human raised by Santa's elves, who learns about his origins and heads to New York City to meet his biological father. James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner, and Bob Newhart appear in supporting roles.

Elf was released in the United States on November 7, 2003 by New Line Cinema. It became a major critical and commercial success, grossing $220 million worldwide against a $33 million budget. Ferrell's performance as Buddy was praised by critics and audiences alike, with many calling it one of his best performances. The film inspired the 2010 Broadway musical Elf: The Musical and NBC's 2014 stop motion animated television special Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas. It has been hailed by many as a modern classic, and is often listed as one of the greatest Christmas films of all time.


On Christmas Eve, an orphaned baby crawls into Santa Claus's sack at the sight of a teddy bear, and is unknowingly taken back to the North Pole from an orphanage. After the infant is discovered at the workshop, the elves name him Buddy after his diaper's brand label.

Buddy is accepted by the elf community and grows up to adulthood believing he is an elf, despite being twice the size of every other elf and inept at toymaking, but one day overhears he is a human. Papa Elf explains to him that he was born to Susan Wells, who died shortly after giving him away for adoption without ever having told her husband, Walter Hobbs, about the pregnancy. Walter is now the Executive Vice President at children's book publisher Greenway Press in the Empire State Building in New York City. Santa reveals that Walter is on the Naughty List due to his selfishness, but suggests Buddy could help redeem him with some Christmas spirit.

Buddy travels to New York and finds Walter at work, but Walter mistakes him for a Christmas-gram messenger and has him ejected. Walter’s security guards sarcastically tell Buddy to go to a local Gimbels department store, where he meets Jovie, an unenthusiastic employee with whom he is instantly smitten. Hearing that Santa will be at the store the following day, Buddy redecorates the store overnight. However, discovering that the Gimbels Santa is not the genuine article, Buddy unmasks him and causes a brawl in the store that the manager breaks up.

Walter reluctantly bails Buddy out of the police station and takes him for a DNA test, which confirms that Buddy is his biological son. Dr. Leonardo convinces Walter to take Buddy home to meet his stepmother Emily and half-brother Michael. Buddy's strange behavior unnerves Walter and Michael, but Emily insists that they take care of him until he "recovers." Michael warms up to Buddy after they defeat a gang of bullies in a snowball fight and encourages him to ask Jovie out on a date. During the date, the two fall in love.

Meanwhile, Walter's publishing company is failing after their latest book flops. Walter's boss, Fulton Greenway, expects Walter to have a new book ready by Christmas Eve. Walter and his team secure a meeting with best-selling children's author Miles Finch, but Buddy interrupts the meeting and mistakes Finch, who has dwarfism, for an elf. Buddy unintentionally insults Finch before the latter attacks him and angrily leaves the meeting, upon which Walter loses his temper and harshly disowns Buddy. Heartbroken, Buddy writes an apology note on an Etch A Sketch and leaves Walter’s apartment.

Upon finding Finch's notebook full of ideas, Walter and his team scramble to create a book to pitch. As Walter prepares to pitch the book to Greenway, Michael arrives and informs Walter of Buddy's departure. Realizing his mistake, Walter quits his job and walks out with Michael to find Buddy. Meanwhile, Buddy sees Santa's sleigh crash in Central Park, attracting a large crowd. Santa explains that the sleigh’s engine is lost and cannot fly without it due to a shortage of Christmas spirit.

Buddy finds the engine and reunites with Walter and Michael. Walter apologizes to Buddy for how he treated him and accepts him as his son. After Buddy takes them to meet Santa, Michael takes Santa's list and reads it in front of television news cameras gathered outside the park, proving that Santa is real. A group of Central Park Rangers who are angry at Santa for placing them on the Naughty List, chase the sleigh as Buddy tries to reattach the engine. Jovie leads the crowd and those watching on television in singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," raising enough Christmas spirit to fully power the sleigh without the engine.

By the following Christmas, Buddy writes a book about his life, which becomes a bestseller and allows Walter to establish his own publishing company. Buddy also marries Jovie and brings their newborn daughter Susie to visit Papa Elf. 


- Will Ferrell as Buddy Hobbs, aka "Buddy the Elf", an eccentric human who was raised by Santa's elves.

- James Caan as Walter Hobbs, a children's book publishing executive and Buddy's biological father.

- Zooey Deschanel as Jovie, an unenthusiastic worker at Gimbels and Buddy's love interest.

- Mary Steenburgen as Emily Hobbs, Walter's wife, Michael's mother and Buddy's stepmother.

- Ed Asner as Santa Claus, a holiday figure who finds Buddy in his sack and gives him to Papa Elf to raise.

- Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, Buddy's adoptive father and the narrator.

- Daniel Tay as Michael Hobbs, Walter and Emily's son and Buddy's younger half-brother.

- Faizon Love as Wanda, the manager of Gimbels and Jovie's boss.

- Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch, a best-selling children's author and dwarf who attacks Buddy for (mistakenly) calling him an elf.

- Amy Sedaris as Deb, Walter Hobbs' secretary.

- Michael Lerner as Fulton Greenway, Walter Hobbs' controlling and uncaring boss and the CEO of Greenway Press.

- Andy Richter as Morris, a co-worker of Walter Hobbs.

- Kyle Gass as Eugene Dupree, a co-worker of Walter Hobbs.

- Artie Lange as the Fake Santa, a Mall Santa with whom Buddy gets into an altercation because he is not the real Santa Claus.

- Jon Favreau as Dr. Ben Leonardo, the Hobbs family's pediatrician.

- Matt Walsh as Eye Witness.

- Peter Billingsley as Ming Ming (uncredited), the head elf in Santa's workshop.

- Mark Acheson as a mailroom worker.

- Claire Lautier as Charlotte, the newscaster in Central Park

- David Paul Grove as Pom Pom, an elf on whom Buddy faints when he discovers he is a human.


David Berenbaum initially wrote the script in 1993, with Chris Farley and Jim Carrey being early candidates to play Buddy. Berenbaum's screenplay underwent uncredited rewrites by Scot Armstrong, Chris Henchy, and the writing team of Adam McKay and Will Ferrell. Garry Shandling was offered the role of Walter Hobbs but declined. Wanda Sykes was originally cast as the Gimbels manager Wanda but later dropped out. Terry Zwigoff was offered to direct the film, but he turned it down in favor of Bad Santa (2003). According to Favreau, the script was initially "much darker" and did not interest him, although he was interested in working with Ferrell's first post-SNL movie. Asked to rewrite it, a turning point came when he realized he could make Buddy's world an homage to the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. This allowed him to conceive of a movie that could be PG rated as opposed to the original script, which he guessed would have been rated PG-13.

Principal photography began on December 9, 2002, and wrapped on March 7, 2003. Filming took place in New York City, as well as in Vancouver and at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

The film makes heavy use of forced perspective to exaggerate the size of Buddy compared to all the other elves. Stop motion animation was employed for certain sequences. CGI usage was kept to a minimum due to Favreau's own preference, something that he would later note he "had to fight very hard" for.

Will Ferrell said in interviews that he suffered ill effects after eating too much sugar for the film.

Zooey Deschanel singing was not in the original script, and Favreau added it when he learned she was a singer. When Buddy starts singing in the middle of Santaland at Gimbels, the lyrics were not scripted, and Will Ferrell improvised the song on the spot.


Elf grossed $176.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $47.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $223.9 million, against a production budget of $33 million.

The film opened at number two at the box office in the U.S. with $31.1 million, finishing behind The Matrix Revolutions, also in its first week. It topped the box office on its second week of release, beating out Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and earning $26.3 million. Additionally, Elf went on to compete against another family-oriented film, Brother Bear. In the United Kingdom, it opened in second behind Love Actually. The 2018, 2019, and 2020 reissues earned $442,000, $786,000, and $2 million respectively.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Elf holds an approval rating of 85% based on 194 reviews, and an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell's funny and charming performance as one of Santa's biggest helpers." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars, calling it "one of those rare Christmas comedies that has a heart, a brain and a wicked sense of humor, and it charms the socks right off the mantelpiece." Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film two out of four stars, saying: "Ferrell makes the damn thing work. Even though he can't get naked or use naughty words, there's a devil of comedy in Ferrell, and he lets it out to play. Director Jon Favreau has the good sense to just stand out of his way." The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying: "While the words "instant holiday classic" might be pushing it, Elf is at the very least a breezily entertaining, perfectly cast family treat." A. O. Scott of The New York Times also gave the film a positive review, saying: "Elf is a charming, silly family Christmas movie more likely to spread real joy than migraine, indigestion and sugar shock. The movie succeeds because it at once restrains its sticky, gooey good cheer and wildly overdoes it." Anna Smith of Empire magazine gave the film a three out of five stars and said: "Ferrell's man-child invites sympathy and sniggers, making this amusing despite some flimsy plotting. Sight gags and a Santa-centered story should keep the kids happy too." Plugged In gave the film a positive review, writing: "The elf-reared Buddy has a heart as big as the arctic north. Does his movie match it?"





It's a Wonderful Life 1946 (James Stewart)
White Christmas 1954 (Bing Crosby)
Elf 2003 (Will Ferrell)
Miracle on 34th Street 1994 (Richard Attenborough)
The Snowman 1982 animation
The Polar Express 2004 animation
Love Actually 2003 (Colin Firth)
Jingle All The Way 1996 (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Home Alone 1990 (Macaulay Culkin)
The Muppets Christmas Carol 1992
The Grinch 2018
The Man Who Invented Christmas 2017
Spirited 2022 (Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds)
Die Hard 1988 (Bruce Willis)
The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 animation








Alien 1979 (Ridley Scott)

Big Hero 6 - Walt Disney animation

Blade Runner - 1982 & 2017

Chappie 2015 Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman

Ex Machina - 2014 (Alicia Vikander)

Honey I Shrunk The Kids 1989

I,Robot - Will Smith 2004 (Isaac Asimov)

Men In Black 1997 - Will Smith

Predator 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger

Real Steel 2011 Hugh Jackman (Robots)

The Food of the Gods H. G. Wells 1976

The Relic 1997 - Penelope Ann Miller (Horror)

The Terminator 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Thing 1982 (Antarctica) John Carpenter











THE MAGIC DINOBOT - From Jameson Hunter, an original short story with potential for adaptation as a TV series idea, germinated in 2016. While attending a school in Hailsham, Jimmy dreams of building a giant robot ant as a special project, then one day his dreams come true when the robot he has built is transformed into a living, breathing, companion. NOTE: This story is Copyright © Jameson Hunter Ltd, March 30 2016. All rights reserved. You will need permission from the author to reproduce the book cover on the right or any part of the story published on this page. JIMMY WATSON - His mother, Marion, teases her son about his dreams to build a large robot ant with a drawing of her son riding on the ant's back. Then it comes true.

















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