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Elf Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Its message is unobjectionable, and there are a few laughs to be had, but too much of Elf is like Buddy's favorite meals: syrupy sweet.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    This is 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. Even the unexpected casting is on the money.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    While the words "instant holiday classic" might be pushing it, Elf is at the very least a breezily entertaining, perfectly cast family treat.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The disarming comedic tone -- silly and novel in its lack of cynicism -- is driven by the fearless, cheerful unself-consciousness of Will Ferrell, a big man last seen streaking (all too unself-consciously) through ''Old School.''

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  • See all Elf reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 7+

Peppy holiday favorite for both kids and parents.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although Elf earned a PG rating for relatively rare potty language and mild swearing ("pissed," "hell," "damn," etc.) and a few references to bodily functions, it's family friendly at its core. Even young kids will appreciate the humor inherent in this fish-out-of-water tale, although some might be upset that Buddy's mother died and that his father never knew about him. The few action sequences (galloping rangers chasing Santa in Central Park, a brief confrontation with a scary raccoon, and some scuffles in a department store) aren't really threatening, and no one is injured. The movie's overall message of the value derived from honesty, acceptance, and affection for all humanity is clear and positive.

  • Families can talk about whether Buddy is a role model. Do you think the movie intends for him to be someone people admire? Why or why not? Are you more likely to laugh at him or with him? Why? What's the difference?
  • If you arrived in your town after 30 years at the North Pole, what do you think might surprise and delight you the way that the escalator and revolving door surprised and delighted Buddy?
  • How does this movie compare to other Will Ferrell comedies? Why do you think he doesn't make more movies for kids?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true0

    Educational value: Kids might learn the words to a few Christmas songs.

  • message true4

    Messages: The movie suggests that although people sometimes lose sight of what's important in life, they can find their way back. It also says that the holiday spirit is based on faith believing rather than seeing and that generosity, kindness, and earnestness can win over even the most cynical and humorless individuals. All of that said, some of the film's humor comes from references to bodily functions: pooping, burping, peeing, throwing up.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Buddy is cheerful, well-intentioned, creative, and grateful for what he has. He brings laughter and joy to others and is a loyal and giving friend. After a storybook upbringing in Santa's workshop, Buddy brings his unique and trusting nature to New York City. At first an object of ridicule, he later becomes a stellar example to the people he encounters, even the most jaded and self-involved among them.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence and scariness: Cartoonish action in several instances: Santa wrestles with an elf; park rangers look ominous as they chase Santa and his reindeer-driven sleigh on Christmas Eve; Buddy is hit by a taxi but immediately springs up, uninjured; a near attack by a ferocious-looking raccoon.

  • sex false1

    Sexy stuff: One sweet kiss between main characters. A reference to nakedness in the shower.

  • language false1

    Language: Infrequent swearing/potty language includes "pissed," "pee," "hell," "damn," "crap," and "up yours." Comedy at the expense of a little person who is called an elf and takes offense.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Lots of product placement, including numerous toys in Santa's workshop and the store where Buddy works: Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch, Lego, etc. Other scenes feature Chanel, Kodak, Clinque, Pop Tarts, Coca-Cola, Tamiflu, and more.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: In one scene played for laughs, two important characters add whiskey to coffee and later are shown to be quite drunk. Wine is consumed during dinner on more than one occasion. A burping gnome is said to have been drinking.