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A 2003 Christmas film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrell. Ferrell stars as Buddy, a human who is raised by Santa Claus (Ed Asner) and the elves at the North Pole after accidentally crawling into Santa's sack. Realizing that he is not competent as an elf and discovering his true lineage, he decides to head to New York City, where he meets his deadbeat corporate father, Walter (James Caan). His father initially doesn't believe he is his son, but is introduced to his family, who is won over by his innocent charm. Buddy's adventures in the city include an encounter with a fake Santa at Gimbel's and falling in love for the first time with an employee dressed as an elf (Zooey Deschanel). His own father begins to warm up to him but yells at him after Buddy screws up a deal with a famous children's book author. Buddy runs away, feeling he never belonged in New York.
Santa's sleigh then crashes in Central Park, where the big man himself tells Buddy that a lack of Christmas spirit has caused the engines to fail. Now it's up to Buddy to repair the sleigh and get everyone to believe in Santa before Christmas is ruined. Manages to be a funny, charming and (mostly) family-safe Christmas movie.
- Adult Child: Buddy.
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny
- Berserk Button: Call Miles Finch an elf, one...more..time.
- Big Applesauce: Buddy goes to NYC. The network that catches Buddy on camera is real.
- Big No: Buddy's reaction to finding that his father is on the naughty list.
- Big Yes: Miles Finch lets one fly while discussing ideas for his next book.
- Brick Joke: One of the jack-in-the-boxes that Buddy had been in charge of testing makes a surprise reappearance late in the film.
- Buffy-Speak: Buddy, after seeing a lady at his father's workplace: "That's a nice, purple dress. It's very purple-y."
- Casting Gag: Edward Asner as Santa Claus, a role he's voiced in numerous other productions.
- The Cast Showoff: Zooey Deschanel, the "She" of musical duo She & Him, gets to show off her chops.
- Christmas Elves: Duh.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: People's belief in Santa is what powers his sleigh.
- Recently, Christmas spirit hasn't been enough, so he adds a jet engine.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Walter and most of his staff.
- Well, they're not really that corrupt. It's just that they tend to be cotton-headed ninny muggins.
- Such as shipping an order of books with the pages out of order. No wonder the company is failing.
- Crazy Consumption: In one memorable scene, Buddy eats a plate of spaghetti topped with maple syrup, several fistfuls of candy, and a crumbled Pop-Tart.
- Creator Cameo: Jon Favreau appears as both the doctor Buddy visits and as the voice of Mr. Narwhal.
- Defrosting Ice King: Walter softens up considerably towards the end of the movie.
- Expy: See "Snowlems" below.
- Fish Out of Water: The man-child-ish Buddy in his elf outfit.
- Gasshole: Buddy swigs a 2-liter of Coca-Cola in one gulp and then lets out a very loud burp (provided by Maurice LaMarche).
- The Grinch: Walter is sort of a mild one.
- Historical In-Joke: A Macy's store is used as a stand-in for Gimbels. In reality, Macy's bought out the Gimbels chain in 1986.
- Homage Shot: Like George Bailey from Its a Wonderful Life, Buddy finds himself standing on the edge of a bridge one night, suffering feelings of worthlessness, until he notices a falling ethereal being in need of his rescue.
- I Should Write a Book About This: Buddy writes a children's book about his adventure as the first book released through Walter's new publishing company.
- Keet: Buddy, to an extent.
- Interspecies Adoption: A human raised by Christmas elves? Stranger things have happened.
- Mall Santa: Department store Santa, actually. Buddy is not fooled:
Buddy: You smell like beef and cheese. You don't smell like Santa.
- Man Child: Buddy.
- Medium Blending: When Buddy leaves the North Pole, he meets pastiches of stop-motion Christmas characters.
- More Dakka: with snowballs!
- The Narrator: Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), Buddy's mentor, narrates the story at either end.
- Oblivious Adoption
- 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!
- Parent Service: Zooey Deschanel in the shower. A lot of dads (and maybe a few moms) likely had a new favorite movie after this scene.
- Playing Against Type: One of Will Ferrell's few roles that isn't a lecherous, Jerkass Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. Also, one of Zooey Deschanel's few roles where she isn't a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Or brunette.
- Rascally Raccoon: Buddy meets a rather nasty one in a forest.
- Santa Claus: Duh.
- Shower Scene: We don't see much, but still, Zooey Deschanel wet...
- Skip of Innocence: Buddy does this at one point.
- Snowball Fight: Buddy befriends Michael after proving incredibly competent at one.
- Snowlems: An expy of a snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appears during the North Pole scenes.
- Storybook Opening
- Sweet Tooth: Buddy
Buddy: We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.
- It appears that the North Pole is an almost literal Sugar Bowl.
- Unusual Euphemism: At one point Buddy berates himself as a "cotton-headed ninnymuggins". Later on, he exclaims "Son of a nutcracker!" after being hit with a snowball.