Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (2014)
Dir: Mark Caballero & Seamus Walsh
It’s so clearly an attempt at creating a new seasonal classic, but it essentially already was!
Adapted from the musical that was adapted from the 2003 Jon Favreau film ‘Elf’ starring Will Ferrell, this tells the story of Buddy, who accidentally got in Santa’s sack when he was a baby and was raised as an Elf. When fully grown, Buddy (voiced this time by Jim Parsons) learns his true origins and sets off to New York City in search of his father (Mark Hamill) and the family he doesn’t yet know but already loves unconditionally.
Without a doubt, the thought behind this was to make a seasonal short that gets shown every year, like ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’ or ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’. However, the original feature film was already well on the way to being considered a must-see each year anyway.
Here the original story is abridged and trimmed, but it takes out so much of what made the film so wonderful, while still quoting exactly from it far too much. It adds nothing useful to what was already done, there’s no originality other than the songs that were taken from the stage production. I’m sure when performed on stage with a decent length and story development it’s much better, as the songs themselves are quite good indeed and have some excellently funny lyrics. If it wasn’t for the feature film, this would be completely forgettable, but we all already know the story perfectly as that film was a wonderful piece of unforgettable work.
The voice cast clearly thought it would be a good project to be a part of, who wouldn’t want to be in an animated short adaptation of such a beloved family film with the prospect of being watched by families yearly? Sadly though it’s such a mis-fire. I think Jim Parsons is truly brilliant as Sheldon Cooper, and I was all for him voicing this, but he’s not on form here at all, he is turned up to 11 nearly all the time. I know Buddy is unusually enthusiastic, but there’s no subtlety in his voice performance, or in the story, dialogue or visuals of the short at all. Through this lack of restraint it distances itself from the charm that abounded in the 2003 film.
Interestingly, the IMDb rating for this has actually dropped in the 48 hours since I watched it on TV and then wrote this review, as people around the world had this broadcast and were ultimately disappointed.
This is 43 minutes long, the full original film is 93, so I can’t see much reason really then for people not to just find those extra 50 minutes and watch one of the funniest and most charming family films of recent years!