Walking into "Elf," I expected just another holiday-themed, mildly funny comedy. Without Will Farrell or usually serious director Jon Favreau, that might have been the fate of "Elf." However, I found it generally amusing and hysterical at times, with just the right amount of sentimentality (i.e. not too much).
After seven years on "Saturday Night Live" and 10 scene stealing supporting roles in the past few years, Will Farrell hits a home run in his first starring role. His obvious delight in playing a naïve, giddy adopted elf shines as he vamps up the conventional fish out of water, guy out of his mind and Santa revealed cliches you’d expect in a Christmas movie. The fresh fun of "Elf" is a nice gift for movie watchers.
[2009: I didn't do my homework on Jon Favreau. He was a director and producer of comedies back then, but maybe I thought of him as serious as I had just seen him acting straight in "Daredevil." He went on to direct "Iron Man," so I doubt he minds that I mischaracterized him here.]