Genre: Holiday, Comedy, Kids and Family; Starring: Will Ferrell, Ed Asner, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen; Director: Jon Favreau; Author: David Berenbaum, Jon Favreau; Release Date Wide: 11/07/2003; Runtime (in minutes): 97; MPAA Rating: PG; Distributor: New Line Cinema

Heavy on Will Ferrell’s little-big-man mannerisms and unapologetic sentimentality, this rascally comedy could easily have suffered from the same seasonal affliction disorder that limits most Christmas-themed comedies. But thanks to director Jon Favreau’s yen for strangeness — including wisecracking stop-motion characters and a hilariously blunt local news anchor — Elf plays well year-round, and Ferrell’s wide-eyed mailroom break-dance sequence is a career highlight.

EXTRAS With videogames, karaoke sing-alongs, and depth-devoid docs such as ”Kids on Christmas,” the two-disc set is a virtual Criterion Collection starter kit for preteens. And while grown-ups won’t find much in Ferrell’s and Favreau’s earnest commentary tracks — though Favreau does point out the hidden cameo from A Christmas Story’s Peter Billingsley — they will get a laugh courtesy of Johnny Grant, ”Honorary Mayor” of Hollywood, who notes that ”in Hollywood, if they want to see snow, they can see it. All they have to do is make a phone call.” Not gonna touch that one.

Originally posted December 20 2004 — 12:00 AM EST

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