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YMMV / Elf

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  • Angst? What Angst?: How does Walter's wife react to finding out he has an illegitimate child from a previous relationship, which he himself never knew about? You'd probably expect her to be angry or at least concerned, but she's downright delighted (this is amended in the animated version). Roger Ebert put it best:
    Mary Steenburgen proves she is the only actress in America who could welcome her husband's out-of-wedlock elf into her family and make us believe she means it.
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  • Awesome Music: There's a quite few of these in the animated version.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Break-dancing in the mailroom to the Tag Team song "Whoomp! (There It Is)". Must be what happens when you get a lifelong elf good and sauced.
    • While walking in the woods Buddy gets attacked by a raccoon, which is never mentioned again. Though, this scene may have intentionally been Buddy's first encounter with culture shock and Reality Ensues and served the purpose of showing that animals and people outside of Santa's North Pole are nowhere near as nice as the talking animals and elves of Santa's place.
  • Ear Worm: All together now: Bom-bom-bom-bom-bom, Bom-ba-da-bom-bom
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Mr. Narwhal. He's actually voiced by Jon Favreau!
    • Arctic Puffin also has his fair share of fans.
    • Miles Finch. Peter Dinklage is really good at playing a character who's a total asshole.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Jodi's (African-American) boss taking over at the Mall Santa on short notice is Played for Laughs, but is otherwise a non-issue. Thirteen years later, Mall of America's announcement that its Santa would be played by a black man received a nation-wide racist backlash.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The first thing Miles Finch says to Buddy is "I get more action in a week than you've had in an entire lifetime". Of course he would, he's Tyrion! Amusingly, his next line is about having another house in Vail (Colorado), which sounds like 'Vale'.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The main character is named Buddy, not Elf.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Jovie's boss at Gimbel's. He's cold and a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but like everyone else there, he just wants to do his job and get through the holidays, and it's implied he's already on thin ice as it is. You can't blame him for getting fed up with Buddy making things more complicated.
  • Memetic Mutation
    • All together now: "SANTAAAAA!!!! OH MY GOD!! I know him! I know him!"
    • "But the children love the books!"
    • "Ginormous!"
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    • "You sit on a throne of lies."
    • "I'm a cotton-headed ninnymuggins."
    • "Not now, Arctic Puffin!"
    • "Bye, Buddy! Hope you find your dad!" And you have to do it in that goofy voice.
  • Narm: Zooey Deschanel's performance. She's clearly going for antisocial, but she comes off as bored.
  • Narm Charm: The scene where everyone in New York sings Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. It's cheesy in every way possible, but at the same time it's nice to see the whole city come together in song.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • Buddy peels a piece of gum off a subway entrance stair railing. And chews it. After Santa told him not to. (Santa told him not to eat the gum from the ground.)
    • Spaghetti with maple syrup, marshmallows, Pop-Tarts, and other sugary things. Will Ferrell later revealed that he got migraines from eating all of that sugar.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Brenda McDonald, embodying every sweet, helpless little-old-lady and kind-hearted, heartbroken nun in movie history.
    But the children love the books!
    • Peter Dinklage's scene was mentioned in a lot of critics' reviews as being the most memorable sequence of the film. Even those who dislike the movie agree that his scene is great.
    • While not as noticeable, Jon Favreau follows his usual tradition with his scene as the doctor who gives Buddy the finger-prick.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Buddy befriends Lord Tirek in the mailroom.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: While Miles Finch is clearly a hothead with quite an ego, you can't really fault him for losing his cool with someone who, as far as he's aware, is going out of his way to be insulting and won't just knock it off.
  • Values Dissonance: The scene where Jovie catches Buddy listening to her singing in the shower was clearly intended to showcase Buddy's naivety and lack of awareness with human social norms. While it was intended as an edgy joke even then, it would be a lot harder to make funny now with sexual misconduct taken far more seriously.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Believe it or not, the Broadway musical version is considerably more adult than the movie, with an increase in language, sexual innuendos, and double entrendres.note 
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Will Ferrell in a kid's movie? James Caan for a Christmas film? Ed Asner as Santa? note  Even Roger Ebert was surprised by how well that turned out.
  • The Woobie: Buddy had no idea how to function in society and most people treated him like a pariah. It doesn't help when his own father doesn't care or understand at first.
    • This is shown best in the scene where Buddy is asking Miles if he's one of Santa's elves. Every question sounds like an insult but Buddy is really wanting to know if Miles is from the North Pole.


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