[[quoteright:345:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/elf_6018.jpg]]

->''#1. "Treat every day like Christmas."\\
#2. "There's room for everyone on the 'Nice' list."\\
#3. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."''
-->--'''The Code of the Elves'''

''Elf'' is a 2003 Christmas film directed by Creator/JonFavreau and starring Creator/WillFerrell. Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human who is raised by SantaClaus (Creator/EdwardAsner) and the elves at the North Pole after accidentally crawling into Santa's sack as an orphaned baby. Realizing that he is not competent as an elf and discovering his true lineage, he decides to head to [[BigApplesauce New York City]], where he meets his deadbeat corporate father, Walter (Creator/JamesCaan). His father initially doesn't believe he is his son, but is introduced to his family, who is won over by his innocent charm. Buddy's adventures in the city include an encounter with a fake Santa at Gimbel's and falling in love for the first time with an employee dressed as an elf (Creator/ZooeyDeschanel). His own father begins to warm up to him but yells at him after Buddy screws up a deal with a famous children's book author. Buddy runs away, feeling he never belonged in New York.

Santa's sleigh then crashes in Central Park, where the big man himself tells Buddy that a lack of Christmas spirit has caused the engines to fail. Now it's up to Buddy to repair the sleigh and get everyone to believe in Santa before Christmas is ruined.

It manages to be a funny, charming and (mostly) family-safe Christmas movie. A musical ScreenToStageAdaptation had limited, holiday-season engagements on Broadway in 2010 and 2012 and has since launched a touring production.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AdaptationExpansion: The musical version has a few elements not present in the original movie, including an entire scene where Buddy enters a Chinese restaurant to sulk after Walter tells him to get out of his life, where he finds a bunch of department store Santas complaining about their jobs, and how disrespectful and ill-behaved today's kids are.
** Jovie is given a much-needed {{backstory}} that explains why she's such a humbug when we first meet her, [[spoiler: she grew up in LosAngeles, where she describes Christmas as being, "surreal", because it never snowed; she had been living in New York for two years, and even then, she still never saw snow, so Christmas never felt special to her. That, and apparently she went out with a bunch of jerkasses over the years]].
* AdoringThePests: Buddy tries to befriend a vicious raccoon, who attacks him for his troubles.
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking:
-->'''Buddy:''' (reading a note he's leaving on an Etch-a-Sketch): "I'm sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR"
-->'''Buddy:''' (telling of how he traveled to New York): "I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I ''walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.''"
* AttentionDeficitOohShiny
* BadToTheLastDrop: Buddy naively believes a GreasySpoon's claim to have "the world's best cup of coffee", despite it being anything but.
* BerserkButton: Call Miles Finch an elf, ''one...more..time''.
* BigApplesauce: Buddy goes to NYC. The network that catches Buddy on camera is real.
** According to the DVD commentary, the bearded guy who Buddy mistakes for Santa during the "Pennies from Heaven" scene when he first gets to New York was also real and unaware that he was being filmed for a movie.
* BigNo: Buddy's reaction to finding that his father is on the naughty list.
* BigYes: Miles Finch lets one fly while discussing ideas for his next book.
* BrickJoke: One of the jack-in-the-boxes that Buddy had been in charge of testing makes a surprise reappearance late in the film.
* BlackKnight: "Oh no. It's the Central Park Rangers." Indeed, the Rangers, in their charge, resemble galloping [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Ring Wraiths]].
* BuffySpeak: Buddy, after seeing his father's secretary Deborah: "That's a nice, purple dress. It's very purple-y."
* CastingGag: Creator/EdwardAsner as SantaClaus, a role he's voiced in numerous other productions.
* TheCastShowoff: Zooey Deschanel, the "She" of musical duo ''She & Him'', gets to show off her chops.
* ChristmasCarolers: When Buddy first meets Jovie and has trouble reaching her, he tries to lift her spirit by telling her, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Later in the movie, when she learns Santa's sleigh has lost its power source because nobody has Christmas spirit, she remembers Buddy's words of wisdom, and tries to boost everyone's spirit by leading a round of spontaneous Christmas caroling, singing, "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town".
* ChristmasElves: Duh.
* ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: People's belief in Santa is what powers his sleigh.
** Recently, Christmas spirit hasn't been enough, so he added a 8500 RP (reindeer power) jet turbine engine.
* [[InkSuitActor ClaySuitActor]]: The snowman Buddy talks with before leaving the North Pole bears an uncanny resemblance to LeonRedbone.
* CordonBleughChef: Buddy's insistence on adding maple syrup to everything.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Walter and most of his staff.
** Well, they're not really that corrupt, they're just a bunch of cotton-headed ninny muggins, as proven by that incident where they shipped an order of books with a couple missing pages. No wonder the company is failing.
* CrazyConsumption: In one memorable scene, Buddy eats for breakfast: a plate of spaghetti topped with maple syrup, several fistfuls of candy and a crumbled Pop-Tart. Dentists will have nightmares viewing it.
* CreatorCameo: Jon Favreau appears as both the doctor Buddy visits and as the voice of Mr. Narwhal.
** And also voiced the other Arctic creatures like the puffin, polar bear, and seal.
* DeadGuyJunior: Blink and you'll miss it, but in the ending sequence, Buddy and Jovie's daughter is named Susie, after Buddy's birth mother.
* [[DefrostingIceQueen Defrosting Ice King]]: Walter softens up considerably towards the end of the movie.
** Jovi can count too as she seems a bit bitter in the beginning but softens up as well.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: The Elf four food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.
** "Thing to do today with my dad today".
* ExactWords: Santa tells Buddy not to eat any candy off of the ground, but he never said anything about railings.
** Later, Walter tells Buddy that he needs to lose the tights "as soon as possible". You can probably guess what happens next...
* {{Expy}}: See "Snowlems" below.
* FishOutOfWater: The man-child-ish Buddy in his elf outfit.
* FeetFirstIntroduction / BigLittleMan: Miles Finch
* {{Gasshole}}: Buddy swallows an entire 2-litre bottle of Coca-Cola in one gulp and then lets out a ''very'' loud burp (dubbed in by Creator/MauriceLaMarche).
* GeniusDitz: Buddy acts like a 7-year-old trapped in an adult's body, but is able to make a Lego replica of New York City, draw the Mona Lisa on an Etch-A-Sketch, and singlehandedly decorate an entire store for Santa's arrival in less than one night. He should be hired by stores that need rapid redecoration work. Which is why you should be really upset when those Legos start getting destroyed.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Goes right over the kids' heads obviously, but when you're an adult, and you stop to think about it, it becomes clear that Buddy was born illegitimately.
** The Broadway musical version ''directly'' acknowledges that Buddy was born as the result of "consequences" between Walter and Susan Wells.
** Also in the musical version, Gimbel's manager (Macy's in the play) sees Buddy has the hots for Jovie, and suggests he take her out... including suggesting he walk her home, and take her into the bedroom. Buddy's childlike innocence and naivete turns the rest into a DoubleEntendre as he assumes that, "[[LiteralMinded Getting into bed and snuggling her]]" [[LiteralMinded means just that]]."
** Again, from the musical, in the end when the Hobbs family visits Santa, with Buddy and Jovie's new baby in tow, Buddy remarks that she was the result of a, "New way of snuggling Jovie showed me that I never heard of before, but really like it!"
* TheGrinch: Walter is sort of a mild one.
* HistoricalInJoke: A Macy's store is used as a stand-in for Gimbels. Macy's bought out the real Gimbels chain in 1986.
* HomageShot: Like George Bailey from ''Film/ItsAWonderfulLife'', Buddy finds himself standing on the edge of a bridge one night, suffering feelings of worthlessness, until he notices a falling ethereal being in need of his rescue. In this case, Santa's sleigh.
* HowCanSantaDeliverAllThoseToys: Inverted when Buddy is told that some kids think their parents give them toys for Christmas, and Buddy says that parents can't deliver all those toys in one night.
* InnocentlyInsensitive: Due to his childhood in the North Pole, he has no idea how offensive his interaction with Miles is.
* TheInsomniac: Elves are apparently satisfied with only 40 minutes a night sleep, and Buddy, somehow, manages to cope with this.
* InterspeciesAdoption: A human raised by Christmas elves? Stranger things have happened.
* IShouldWriteABookAboutThis: Buddy writes a children's book about his adventure as the first book released through Walter's new publishing company.
* {{Keet}}: Buddy, to an extent.
* LargeHam: Guess who.
** "SANTAAAAAAAAAA!"
* MadeOfIron: Buddy can get run over by a taxi cab and walk away as if it didn't happen (all while apologizing for getting in the way).
** In another scene he mistakes a short book writer for an elf, & gets the crap beaten out of him. Despite the massive amount of force in his beating, he still isn't handicapped.
** The first time it happens for Buddy is when he encounters a raccoon. Said raccoon apparently mauls him after he ignores its pretty obvious warning symbol & yet he walks along without a single scratch on his face.
* MallSanta: Department store Santa, technically. But Buddy is not fooled because the guy smells like beef and cheese, not milk and cookies.
* ManChild: Buddy.
* [[ManicPixieDreamGirl Manic Pixie Dream Guy]]: Buddy. Zooey Deschanel, who usually plays this role, instead plays the DefrostingIceQueen Jovi.
* MediumBlending: When Buddy leaves the North Pole, he meets pastiches of stop-motion Christmas characters as we transition to the real world.
* MissingTrailerScene: There was a scene where Buddy was playing ice hockey with his elf friends which ends in him checking an elf so hard he flies into the stands. It was in every trailer. Suffice to say, it didn't show up in the movie. It did show up in the deleted scenes on the DVD.
* MoreDakka: with snowballs!
** The snowballs even make bullet sounds as they whiz by.
* TheNarrator: Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), Buddy's mentor, narrates the story at either end.
* ObliviousAdoption
* OnePhoneCall: Buddy gets one.
* ParentService: Zooey Deschanel in the shower. A lot of dads ([[EvenTheGirlsWantHer and maybe a few moms]]) likely had a new favorite movie after this scene.
* RascallyRaccoon: Buddy meets a rather nasty one in a forest.
* SantaClaus: Duh. He's a bit grumpier in this film, though.
* TheScrooge: Mr. Greenway, who schedules a meeting for Walter and his staff to pitch a new book for him on the evening of December 24, never minding that that's Christmas Eve.
* SeriousBusiness: You'd think that writing children's picture books wouldn't be that big of a deal, wouldn't you? You'd be very wrong.
* ShowerScene: Courtesy of Zooey Deschanel.
* SingingInTheShower: Jovie during the shower scene.
* SkipOfInnocence: Buddy does this at one point.
* SnowballFight: Buddy befriends Michael after proving incredibly competent at one.
* {{Snowlems}}: An expy of a snowman from ''WesternAnimation/RudolphTheRedNosedReindeer'' appears during the North Pole scenes.
* StorybookOpening
* SweetTooth: Buddy
--> '''Buddy:''' We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.
** It appears that the North Pole is an almost literal SugarBowl.
* TakeThat: In the musical version, while Greenway is sold on the story of Buddy the Elf for Greenway Publishing's newest book, he orders one change: the title character will be a horse instead of an elf, because apparently, the biggest demographic is tween girls who love [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic ponies]].
* UnDuet: Jovie is singing one in the shower, however soon Buddy joins in...to much surprise.
* UnusualEuphemism: At one point, Buddy berates himself as a "cotton-headed ninnymuggins". Later on, he exclaims "Son of a nutcracker!" after being hit with a snowball.
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