It’s really tough to find anyone these days capable of turning a novelty song in to a great film. Not that there’s a need for it, mind you. But still, back in the days Rankin Bass took some great Christmas music and turned them in to classic movies that are still watched today. The last movie we had was “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” And somehow a beloved matriarch being trampled to death by an animal doesn’t inspire the jollies in me.
You wouldn’t expect much from a short movie about the famous Christmas novelty song, but lo and behold Rankin Bass manage to pull off an impressive feat. “Frosty the Snowman” is a great short fantasy film that knows when to call it quits and is never a cloying over abundance of cute and obnoxious.
It’s rare that a film targeted toward the Christmas holiday can manage to not only capture the magic of the holiday spirit and its intent, but the beauty of the human spirit. George Seaton’s iconic “Miracle on 34th Street” isn’t just about Christmas and the spirit of the yearly event, but the kindness of the human soul and the remarkable things we’re capable of when our hearts are in the right place. It’s interesting to note that though “Miracle on 34th Street” lives on as a family film and a holiday movie, George Seaton’s picture stands on its own as a raucous comedy, and one that will draw laughs thanks to some great slapstick and hilarious one-liners that still manage to hit their marks.
“That’s what you’re all becoming… Martianmallows.”
So the Martians of this piece have no idea what television is, despite watching it often. They have no idea what dolls are. They have no comprehension of the idea of tender loving care, but they’re fans of hamburgers and chocolate cake in pill form? How does that work? I have a feeling even with the notorious “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” being touted to children in its original release, the kids in the audience sat through about twenty minutes, and thought this experience would be much better with some acid at hand. It’s not so much that “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is a bad movie, it’s that it’s so terribly put together and written that it ends up watching as a slow and painful death that you can’t help to look at with sheer disbelief.
What ultimately turns “Elf” from an okay movie to a good movie, is Will Ferrell. Will Ferrell gives such a good performance here and is both laugh out loud funny and endearing presenting such a conviction with his role and commits to this character giving a wide eyed exuberance throughout the entirety of the film, even when facing adversity and hardship. What “Elf” essentially has going for it in the long run is its sense of innocence approaching family and Buddy approaching the real world. The film, while a story about an man who thinks he’s an elf discovering the real world, it’s also about losing ones innocence and grasp on their inner-child.